We know so many wine regions of Europe. My mind often thinks of the Chianti region of Italy, Bordeaux in France, or even the Duoro Valley of Portugal. But what about Slovenia? Have you heard of their wine? On my first trip to Slovenia, this was one of my biggest takeaways from the county. Slovenian wine is a hidden gem, completely delicious, and rooted in a long history of Europe’s wine culture.
Dating back to the Celts and Illyrians, vineyards have always been part of Slovenia’s landscape. It’s a large part of their cultural heritage and you’ll find that as you travel through Slovenia, their wine is served everywhere. With more than 28,000 wineries producing 80 million liters of wine, there is no shortage of varieties and styles of wine.
You’ll find that more than 70% is white wine, with different varietals often not found anywhere else in the world. The three predominant regions of wine growing in Slovenia are Primorska, Podravska, and Posavska and have 14 distinct wine tasting districts. It’s wine-lovers heaven.
On this trip to Slovenia, I spent some time just scratching the surface of the Goriška Brda district of wine. I visited a few wineries, saw the incredible landscape, and got a taste of how great the wine is. So with a little digging and asking the locals what makes this wine so good, here’s what I found.
A look at Slovenian Wine
Quick facts on Slovenian Wine
1. There are quality ranges for their wine:
- Namizno vino – Table wine
- Deželno vino PGO – Country wine
- Kakovostno vino ZGP – Quality wine
- Vrhunsko vino ZGP – Premium quality wine
2. On the wine labels, notations for sweetness is denoted:
- suho (dry)
- polsuho (medium-dry)
- polsladko (medium-sweet)
- sladko (sweet)
3. Wines were historically aged in Slovenian wood casks but now have started using French oak barrels.
4. It’s the intersecting climates that make these wines so special. Take Goriška Brda for example. The Mediterranean climate comes from one side and the alpine climate meets from the other. The intermixing of the two, cold winds from the alps (creates crispness) and the warm wind from the sea (creates sweetness) make an ideal climate for growing grapes.
5. In some regions, like Goriška Brda, they don’t even have to water the vineyards as the roots grow so deep. There is enough moisture in the soil here that even in the warm summer it’s not necessary.
6. You can drink a wine that is from a 400-year-old winery, still produced today called the Žametna Črnina (Black Velvet) wine.
7. The saying goes that there’s a winery for every 70 people!
A Few Favorite Wines Varietals in Slovenia
Malvazija: a bright, white wine that is both fruity and mineral. One of my favorites from the trip.
Chardonnay: I normally do not drink chardonnay as I find it quite buttery but in Slovenia, their chardonnay was just perfect. This is a great wine to start with to get an introduction to the flavor notes found here.
Pinot Gris: A carefully harvested white wine, this can often have spicier notes and more full-bodied.
Ribolla Gialla: Has almost a saltiness to it but full of flavor to balance it and often will show more minerality.
Sauvignon: One of the more predominant varietals found throughout Slovenia and this dry white varies depending on the region and soil.
Riesling: Slovenian Riesling sits well — almost has more of a citrusy flavor to it and is not always sweet.
Where to buy Slovenian Wine in the States
If you can’t get to Slovenia and you’re wanting to try these at home. Or you didn’t bring a big enough suitcase like me… there is luck to find these. Even though the majority of Slovenian wine is consumed in Slovenia there are a few wineries who are exporting. A few major retailers that I have found who are selling Slovenian wine are Total Wine, Wine.com, and 1000corks.com.
Head to this site to find out more about Slovenian wine, the regions to visit in Slovenia, and more.