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Slovenia

Travel, drink and eat well in Slovenia!

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Travel, drink and eat well in Slovenia. From Underdog to a Recognized Natural Wine Producing Country in Europe

A WORD FROM THE NATURAL WINE EXPERT: Alen Audic - DrinkSloWine Founder

The small country nestled between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea boasts a vibrant natural wine scene and a wealth of discoveries awaiting visitors. Wine holds a pivotal role in Slovenian identity, with over 20,000 wine producers—ranging from micro-scale home operations to large cellars releasing millions of bottles annually—in a country of roughly two million inhabitants. Even the national anthem is a poetic ode crafted in the likeness of a wine glass. The natural wine movement emerged in the late 1990s.

Urbajs, Slovenian Natural Winemaker
Urbajs, Slovenian Natural Winemaker

Small independent winemakers, such as Urbajs (Organic Anarchy), Zorjan, Šuman, Klinec, Nando, Čotar, Mlečnik, and others, began embracing the principles of natural winemaking, mirroring the spirit of their Italian-Slovenian neighbors Radikon and Gravner across the border in Collio. They rediscovered traditional methods of crafting macerated amber wines with minimal intervention, prioritizing the expression of terroir and allowing grapes to ferment with minimal human interference.

Šuman, Slovenian Natural Winemaker
Šuman, Slovenian Natural Winemaker

An increasing number of producers are joining this movement, showcasing the tremendous potential of the Slovenian climate for viticulture. The flavor profile of Slovenian natural wines varies depending on grape variety, winemaking philosophy, and region, offering freshness, vibrant acidity, complex aromas, mineral notes, textured amber wines, and some more unconventional bottles. The plethora of flavors and indigenous grapes invites exploration.

 

But where can one find these wines in Slovenia? Let's embark on a journey from west to east.

Soča, Slovenia
Soča, Slovenia

Our first destination is the Soča Valley. Surprisingly, the small mountain village of Kobarid in the northwest corner of Slovenia stands out as a leading hub for natural wines in the country. Pioneering establishments like the now three-star restaurant Hiša Franko were among the first to offer a diverse selection of Slovenian and Collio natural wines. For a taste of local cuisine, don't miss Hiša Polonka, renowned for traditional dishes like Štruklji dumplings and their signature Roast Beef. At DrinkSloWine, indulge in a tasting session and discover your favorite bottles. And be sure to take a dip in the emerald waters of the Soča and Nadiža rivers.

Kobarid, Slovenia
Kobarid, Slovenia

From Kobarid, day trips to the wine regions of Brda, Karst, and Vipava Valley are easily arranged.

Bohinj, Slovenia
Bohinj, Slovenia

Another delightful way to explore Slovenia is by taking the car train from Most na Soči to Lake Bohinj, Slovenia's deepest lake ensconced by mountains. From there, a short journey leads to Milka restaurant in the mountain village of Kranjska Gora, recently awarded two Michelin stars.

Belvedere of Villa Bled
Belvedere of Villa Bled

Continuing eastward towards Ljubljana, be sure to pause and admire the postcard-perfect view of Lake Bled. For the ultimate vista, hike up to the Belvedere of Villa Bled, once the residence of Tito.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Now, let's venture into the capital: Ljubljana.
Here, a diverse selection of natural wines awaits at Tabar, accompanied by delectable small dishes. A recent addition to Ljubljana's bustling gastronomic scene is Georgie Bistro, perfect for a light lunch paired with a fine glass of wine. Come evening, explore Ana Roš' new venture, Jaz, offering uncomplicated fare and exceptional drinks. For those seeking to take a bottle home, Vino Štorija, Ljubljana's first natural wine shop, is a must-visit. All these establishments are conveniently located in the city center, offering panoramic views from the castle hill.

Heading eastward, Maribor serves as the focal point of the Štajerska wine region in eastern Slovenia. With its picturesque city center and rich winemaking heritage, Maribor boasts the oldest vine plant in Europe along the Drava River. Stop by Fudo, a bistro-style eatery at the main square, for a casual bite accompanied by a glass of local natural wine.

For those with more time to spare, a journey to the Slovenian seaside is highly recommended. In the Venetian town of Piran, savor the delights of fresh seafood at Pri Mari restaurant, where a modest selection of natural wines awaits.

Throughout the year, keep an eye out for local markets and food and wine festivals, mostly held from May to October.

Zorjan, Slovenian Natural Winemaker
Zorjan, Slovenian Natural Winemaker

Slovenia beckons natural wine enthusiasts with its abundance of small, independent winemakers crafting exceptional wines in diverse styles. While the Soča Valley is an excellent starting point, outstanding natural wines can also be found in the Vipava Valley, Karst, and Štajerska regions. In Ljubljana, don't miss Tabar, Georgie Bistro, and Vino Štorija. And for a deeper dive into Slovenian natural wines, consider a trip to Maribor or Piran in the east.

When in doubt about which winemaker to visit, consult the Raisin app for valuable insights on authentic wine producers, alongside culinary and retail experiences.



 

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