Istria is the Mediterranean part of the country, and has long been influenced by its proximity to the sea and Italy, with a tradition of wine-making that goes back to Roman times. While many different wines are produced here, the most typical of the region is Refošk, a red that pairs well with food and shows considerable variations depending on the terroir. Other reds include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The main white wine is Malvazija (Malvasia), which is said to be richer than that from other areas. Its light and lively character make it very popular when served chilled in the summer. Chardonnay grapes also grow here, producing both the namesake wine and one known as Ricorvo, which is made exclusively from grapes that grow no more than 10m above sea level.
THE Slovenia Wine: Top 125 Experiences
Award-winning vintages, eccentric winemakers, charming villages, castle wine tastings, fairy tale vineyard weddings, unforgettable tours and much more.
Situated in the hills south of Koper and Izola, the picture-perfect Istrian village of Gažon was first settled during Roman times and has been home to the Rojac family since the 17th century. Their production methods are governed by the philosophy that wine is created in
the vineyards, meaning that the utmost care is not only taken during the cultivation process, but was also given during the selection of the land on which the vineyards rest.
And stunning land it is! Located on a ridge above the Drnica river, the terraced slopes are protected from Rojac strong winds and instead enjoy warm southerly breezes and ample sunlight throughout the year. This unique micro-climate, coupled with the long-practiced low-yield cultivation technique with only a limited number of vines per hectare, allows Rojac to produce extremely high-quality wines of unconventional character. While their autochthonous Refošk and Malvazija wines are perhaps their best-known, our personal favourites are Stari d’or line of red and white barrique cuvées.
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The establishment of the Vinakoper Wine Cellar dates back to 1947, and it was one of a handful of large wine companies to emerge from Yugoslavia-era cooperatives. Today Vinakoper’s trademark golden sun logo is a ubiquitous sight in supermarkets, wine shops and restaurant across the country, and likely one of the most recognisable Slovene brands domestically. With almost six hundred hectares of their own vineyards, the Vinakoper Wine Cellar is one of the largest Slovenian wine producers.
In various vineyards spread from the Adriatic to the Vinakoper Istrian hinterland, they prodigiously grow the local varieties Refosco, Malvasia and Yellow Muscat, which are all typical of the area. They additionally grow international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris,
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. In their winemaking practices they rely on tradition and in-depth knowledge of local terroir, combining this with advanced technology and state-of-the-art facilities. Guests can visit their House of Refošk in Koper, for a wine tasting, or to purchase some flavours of Istria to take home.
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With winemaking roots dating back to the 16th century, the Batič family is at the forefront of modern organic and biodynamic production, and the resulting wines are prized globally, especially in Japan.
Šempas 130, +386 5 3088 676, Šempas, www.batic-wines.com
Situated in the idyllic hilltop town of Medana, the Belica estate offers sweeping panoramic views from its restaurant terrace, many apartments and glorious swimming pool. A lovely place to visit or stay.
Medana 32, Dobrovo v Brdih, +386 5 30 42 104, www.belica.si
Nestled up against the Rižana river, the peaceful Bordon estate is a world away from the nearby city of Koper. One large apartment is available for up to six guests in a traditional Istrian stone farmhouse.
Dekani 63, Dekani, +386 41 721 228, www.vinabordon.si
Brda Wine Cellar
This cooperative is the region’s largest wine producer and also boasts the country’s largest wine cellar. They offer a variety of highly educational wine tastings and cellar tours.
Zadružna 9, Dobrovo, +386 5 3310 144, www.klet-brda.com
Named after a castle estate from the Middle Ages, winemaking at Čarga has been a family business since at least 1767, continuing uninterrupted in this exceedingly beautiful corner of the continent.
Pristavo 2, Dobrovo v Brdih, +386 5 395 9496, www.carga.si
Widely considered one of the best winemakers in Slovenia, the legendary Edi Simčič and his son Aleks are true masters of their craft. They now also offer luxury accommodation in a modern villa next door.
Vipolže 39a, Dobrovo v Brdih , +386 30 602 564, www.edisimcic.si
A major proponent of Rebula, winemaker Matjaž Četrtič produces some incredible, organic vintages from his breathtaking vineyards located on the steep slopes surrounding Kojsko village in Brda.
Kojsko 5c, Kojsko, +386 5 304 36 00, www.ferdinand.si
A first generation winemaker, Andrej Cep was inspired to turn a plot of seaside forest into a vineyard. Two decades later his ecological, macerated wines are much acclaimed, as is his Istrian cuisine.
Kolomban 13, Ankaran, +386 41 806 645, www.gordia.si
‘Revolutionaries who like to talk to nature’, these certified biodynamic producers also enjoy talking to guests, and the always interesting tasting tours include a short trek up to the estate’s highest vineyard.
Planina 111, Ajdovščina, +386 41 616 091, www.guerila.si
Just your prototypical, multi-generational, family winemaking operation, going back to the mid-1800s. Nowadays the award-winning Jakončič name is found on wine lists at the best restaurants across Slovenia.
Kozana 5, Dobrovo v Brdih, +386 31 676 803, www.jakoncic.eu
There’s no more idyllic village in Slovenia than Medana. A centre of arts and culture, it’s also home to some exceptional winemakers, including the storied Kristaničič family and their iconic peacock logo.
Medana 29, Dobrovo v Brdih, +386 31 333 289, www.kristancic.com
Situated in the hills of the lower Vipava Valley not far from Nova Gorica, the views from this boutique winery’s glass-walled tasting room are indeed a ‘beautiful sight’ (or lepa vida in Slovene).
Osek 4b, Šempas, +386 40 299 662, lepavida.wine
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