Ten-day Slovenia wine tour: The fun way to learn all about wine and this pretty little country
September 24-October 15, 2020
Price: £1880 per person, no single supplements
Price includes: accommodation, tutored wine tastings, talks by winemakers, winery visits, 3 meals a day, wine with meals (apart from breakfast because that just seems wrong), transport in Slovenia, visits to a thermal spa, a cave complex and Slovenia’s top tourist attraction, Lake Bled.
Not included: Flights, insurance, ice creams and coffees during free time.
Slovenia is only a small country but it offers all styles of wines. There are the classic fresh, aromatic white wines made from international grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio, and Traminer. There are the classic reds and red blends made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. There are also the regional varieties such as Graševina, Furmint, Rebula, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Barbera. And the local varieties such as Zelen and Pinela. There are world-class producers of sparkling wine (classic and Charmat method) and all types of sweet wine (straw, ice, late harvest). And there are several famous orange and natural winemakers with their oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs and extended-skin-contact whites. So Slovenia is the perfect place to learn about the world of wine in all its glorious variety. Plus, Slovenia is a very beautiful country, with friendly people and good food. It has been part of the EU since 2004 and uses the euro for currency.
This 10-day wine tour takes in the country’s three distinctive wine regions. But because the country is small, none is more than a two-hour drive away.
Arrival. Pick up from Ljubljana (airport or train station) or Maribor (airport or train station). Transport to Jeruzalem, about two hours away but a pretty journey through Slovenia. Depending on the time of the inbound flights, we may visit a winery en route to Jeruzalem for the ‘introduction to wine and wine tasting’ session or we will do it over dinner at the guest house where you are staying. This is a historic inn with views over the wine hills that surround the pretty little village of Jeruzalem. It’s a rustic, charming, clean place, with friendly staff, great views and a great location. All the rooms have been modernised fairly recently and have their own showers and balconies. They don’t provide teas and coffees, but we do (we can loan you a kettle and give you some teabags).
After a leisurely breakfast, we will stroll through some vineyards (weather permitting) and learn about how “great wine is made in the vineyard”. We then visit a historic cellar (dating back to the 12th century) and a large winery to learn about the typical process involved in making wine plus tastings and a light lunch. There will be a little free time to wander around Slovenia’s oldest city, Ptuj, and get a coffee. There will also be a chance to rest and get ready for dinner. Dinner will be at a small, traditional family winery where the mum does the cooking and the father and sons work the vineyard and make the wine. They will explain the whole process and you will be able to see the similarities and differences between a large winery and a boutique winery. We’ll probably have our aperitif in the cellar.
After a leisurely breakfast we will head to Slovenia’s oldest sparkling wine producer to learn the difference between Champagne and Prosecco, and to taste Slovenia’s version, Penina. The cellar here is beautiful, as it has a waterfall in it! Afterwards we head for Slovenia’s second city, Maribor, and a look at the world’s oldest living vine (more than 450 years old). Here you will learn how the vine was saved and why its wine tastes disgusting. Afterwards we will visit a Riesling specialist and then head up to a vineyard on top of a hill for a tasting in which we learn about the art of blending (and practise it ourselves), followed by a barbecue with views of the Alps (weather permitting).
After a leisurely breakfast we will visit a biodynamic wine producer to learn the difference between natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Even if you don’t come away thinking biodynamic wines are best, you will be impressed by the passion that drives this winemaker. We will eat some organic food for lunch. We will then visit a modern winery that’s built underground to make sure we really know the difference between all the classic white varieties, and to learn a bit about the classic regional reds — Zweigelt, Blaufrankish and how they differ to Pinot Noir. We then head to Posavje, Slovenia’s smallest wine region, for a relaxing soak in a natural spa, followed by dinner and a tasting in a castle. Overnight accommodation will be at a spa resort.
We’ll spend the morning enjoying the spa, then we’ll visit the region’s top two producers. One makes world-class sweet wine and the other makes world-class sparkling wine. You’ll also be able to try some unusual grape varieties, such as Rumeni Plavac and you’ll be able to try Yellow Muscat in all its glory (as a sweet wine, semi-sweet, dry, sparkling — classic and Charmat method). We’ll also visit a sandstone cave dug out by hand, which is now used as the traditional place to store wine. Dinner will be at an eco-friendly fish restaurant which breeds its own fish in the local stream.
After breakfast we’ll stop off at one of the impressive caves en route to the third and largest wine region, Primurska. The afternoon will be spent visiting a couple of boutique wineries in the Vipava Valley. Today’s emphasis will be on international grape varieties. Dinner and overnight accommodation will be at an old farmhouse with modern rooms.
After breakfast we’ll take a leisurely stroll through the town of Vipava, sit by the stream and have a mid-morning coffee before touring the co-operative winery and a couple of boutique wineries. The emphasis today will be on the local varieties, Zelen, Pinela and Klarnica. Dinner will be at a family-run restaurant where they dry their own ham and make their own wines from Klarnica. There is an option of going to the country’s best and most expensive restaurant, Zemono Manor, but you will have to pay for this meal yourself (about €120 per person) and it may be fully booked. However, if you like food presented in a theatrical, surprising way, or you want to celebrate a special occasion, we will try to get you a table here. We overnight in the same farmhouse as before.
After breakfast we head to Slovenia’s most famous sub-region, Goriska Brda, which shares the same hills, soil and philosophy as its more famous Italian neighbour, Collio. We start with a sparkling wine brunch, overlooking the hills that lead to Italy. Then we visit a couple of exceptional boutique wineries and get the chance to try some of the best and strangest wines you will ever encounter. There is also a chance to wander around the pretty little town of Dobrovo to get a coffee. Dinner and accommodation is at a modern hotel run by a family in which the sons are trying to make a name for themselves as red winemakers. We will learn all about their struggles and what it takes to succeed in the competitive world of winemaking.
After breakfast we head off to the country’s main tourist attraction, Lake Bled. You’ll have the afternoon free to wander around the lake, sit in a lakeside café, swim in the lake, row to the island, take a boat to the island to ring the church bell or carry your bride up the 90 steps (it’s a tradition for newlyweds). Then, in the evening, we will have a farewell dinner and our final tasting together. Accommodation will be in the town of Bled, which is only about 45mins from Ljubljana airport.
After breakfast, we will take you to the airport or into Ljubljana. If you want to stay on in Lake Bled, let us know and we can give you advice about the accommodation and the shuttle buses that run to the airport.
This gives you a rough idea of what we have planned. The order and accommodation may change slightly so we can make the most of the weather and availability of winemakers. Our goal is to give you a lovely relaxing break where you will learn to appreciate the diverse world of wine, as well as the wines of Slovenia and see some of the country’s main tourist attractions.
To make it as stress-free as possible, we will take care of driving you around, organising the trips to wineries, choosing the restaurants, meals and wines. All you have to worry about is booking your flights and insurance. We want you to have a good time so we will try to help in any way we can. Just send us an email if you want to know about the best flights, trains, or if you have any special requests about places to visit in Slovenia and food to eat. The emphasis will be on traditional, homemade, in-season dishes. They like chicken, turkey, pork, deer, cottage cheese, potatoes, dumplings and salad. Most dinners start with soup and finish with a local dessert, such as gibanica or pancakes. Most lunches feature cured meat, cheese and bread, or soup. If you have any special dietary requests or any questions, please email us: ywine.press(at)outlook(dot)com.
TIP: Arrive early and spend a day and night in Ljubljana.
1. Send us an email at ywine.press(at)outlook(dot)com to register your interest, to check availability, and to ask any questions.
2. Book your flights.
3. Send us details of your flights and a 10% deposit (£180) via PayPal, BACs or bank transfer. . The balance will be required 6 weeks before the holiday begins. There is no single supplement. Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment. Remember also, the earlier you book, the cheaper your flights will be.
STOP PRESS: We are currently working out a way to make it possible for guests going on this tour, or something similar, to take their WSET Level 2 exam at the end. If this interests you, send us an email at ywine.press (at) outlook(dot)com and we will keep you posted. It will be more expensive than this as we will have to compare wines from all around the world and buy the WSET learning materials for guests etc, but it will be more fun than learning in a classroom.