Slovenia Wine Country Getaway: Our Favorite Wine Regions & Wineries to Visit
My husband and I love to plan getaways to wine destinations around the world. We have been to Willamette Valley in Oregon, Central Otago in New Zealand, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa, and Douro Valley in Portugal to name a few. We had heard Slovenia wine country might be the next great wine destination, so we had to check it out. We knew nothing about Slovenian wine, so we had so many questions. Which wine regions are best? What wineries to visit? What’s the best place to base yourself to explore the region? I hope our guide helps you plan your next winecation!
Best Slovenian Wine Regions
Slovenia is not new to wine. Wine production dates back to the 5th century BCE before Roman rule. Prior to gaining its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia’s wine industry was governed by large cooperatives that emphasized high quantities of low-quality wine. This situation was similar to what happened in South Africa’s wine industry during the Apartheid. Once Slovenia gained its independence, winemakers started to focus again on producing high-quality wine by using both ancient traditions and modern winemaking techniques.
Before you go to Slovenia, you have to watch the documentary Terra Magica on Amazon Prime!
Slovenia wine country is uniquely sandwiched between Italy, Croatia, Austria, and Hungary with the Julian Alps on one side and the Adriatic coast on the other. Its geographical location allows for a lot of cultural influences on its food and wine, making this an exciting wine region!
All the wine regions with its 28,000 wineries are easily accessible within a few hours’ drive from the capital of Ljubljana. There are three main regions you can choose from as you plan out your getaway: Posavska, Primorska, and Podravska.
Posavska is Slovenia’s smallest wine region and is well known for Cvicek, which is a unique blend of red and white wine that is light and slightly sour with low alcohol content.
Adjacent to Italy, Primorska is the most developed of all the three wine regions and is known for strong, dry wines. You will find white varietals such as Zelen and Rebula and red varietals such as Barbera, Refosco, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We visited this region and loved it!
If you love sparkling and dessert wines, this is the region to visit! This is Slovenia’s largest wine region that produces mostly white wines. It also is home to the oldest vine in the WORLD, Stara Trta, which is located in the center of Maribor’s old town. This vine even has its own museum and festival!
Why We Chose Primorska for Our Slovenia Wine Country Getaway
Goriska Brda in Slovenia wine country
We love red wine, particularly Pinot Noir, so it was a no-brainer for us to focus our time on the Primorska wine region which is known for its red wine varietals. There are four subregions within the Primorska wine region to explore. Here’s a quick rundown.
01- GORISKA BRDA
Known as the “Tuscany of Slovenia,” this region is situated between the Alps and the Mediterranean and is drop-dead gorgeous! As we made the drive through Goriska Brda, you actually drive through parts of Italy.
At times, you will forget … am I in Italy or Slovenia?
Rolling hillsides dotted with vineyards, orchards, and cypress trees surround you as you navigate the roads through this idyllic location.
There are many notable wine varieties Goriska Brda is known for including the dry white Rebula, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and … Orange wine!
Yep, orange wine. This natural wine is made from white grapes that are macerated with their skins and seeds. They are bold and dry with red wine characteristics and have a yeasty nutty flavor from oxidation.
Karst = Teran. The Karst wine region is known for its limestone cliffs, special red soil (terra rosa), and strong Bora winds. These conditions are perfect for producing its signature wine from the Refosco grapes, Teran.
Look for Teran PTP, which is made from the best grapes. This full-bodied, ruby-red, dry wine is highly acidic and pairs perfectly with another well-known favorite of the region, Karst prosciutto. Ah, delicious!
We did not have time to visit a winery in this region, but we did pick up a Lisjak Teran PTP when we were at Wine Bar Suklje in Ljubljana. This wine bar was definitely worth a stop. Great selections of wine and super friendly, attentive service.
2017 Lisjak Kras Teran Wine
03- VIPAVA VALLEY
There are a lot of big-name producers here but also quite a few smaller boutique wineries. This wine subregion is known for its dry whites like the Zelen and Pinela, but it is also well regarded for its high-quality reds such as Barbera, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
This district is located by the Adriatic Sea and has a mild Mediterranean climate. The two wine varietals that thrive in this region are the red varietal Refosco and the mineral-rich, white varietal Malvasia which perfectly pairs with the local seafood.
We visited 1 winery in Goriska Brda and 3 wineries in Vipava Valley, which were all phenomenal.
Best Slovenian Wineries to Visit
Guerila Wines entrance
Great name, right? The winemaker decided on the name to symbolize the fight and effort put in to maintain a vineyard and sell the final product.
We discovered this winery in Vipava Valley upon the recommendation of the 2-Michelin starred restaurant, Hisa Franko, one of the top restaurants in the world. My husband and I actually planned our vacation to Slovenia because of this incredible restaurant.
How winemaker Petric gets around the property … via motorcycle
Make sure to secure a reservation in advance. Zmagoslav Petric, the owner of Guerila Wines, was incredibly kind and showed us all around the steeply-terraced vineyard and cellar before we sat down for our wine tasting.
Guerila Wines operates under biodynamic principles. There are three lines to try from: classic, selection, and extreme. We tried some incredible varietals across the lines including the Castra Brut Rose, Pinela, Zelen, Barbera, and Rebula. Our wine tastings were accompanied by some mouthwatering prsut (prosciutto) and local cheeses.
Burja Wine Cellar in Vipava Valley, Slovenia
Burja Estate was another solid recommendation by Hisa Franko. This Vipava Valley winery ended up being our favorite!
Of note, Hisa Franko is run by the incredibly gifted Ana Ros. Her husband, Valter Kramar, is a talented sommelier, who has quite an impressive local Slovenian wine collection. I share this because you know when a restaurant of this merit gives recommendations, you know they are going to be amazing.
We had the pleasure of being shown around by winemaker Primoz Lavrencic, who is incredibly talented. He operates under biodynamic principles and works with local varieties that originate in the Vipava Valley like Zelen, Refosco, Rebula, and Malvasia. Winemaker Lavrencic also works with vineyards of Modri Pinot, which is definitely worth trying.
Posing for a picture with winemaker Primoz Lavrencic at Burja Estate
Our wine tasting was one of the best tasting experiences we have had. Very relaxed. Like sitting down with a good friend and sharing a bottle of wine. We were seated at a table next to a huge egg-shaped pizza oven as local Slovenian punk music played on the record player in the background.
Listening to Slovenian punk music on a record player at Burja Estate
Then we were generously offered glass after glass of the delicious and elegant expressions of his wine. Highly recommend!
Wine tasting room at Burja Estate
Wine labels had not come in yet … love the Sharpie improvise
Tilia House of Pinots in Slovenia
Full disclosure: My husband and I really gravitate towards red wine, specifically pinot noir. Our winery choices show that preference.
The next Slovenian winery I recommend visiting is Tilia Estate in Vipava Valley. We had big expectations for this winery considering their slogan is “House in Pinots.”
You will notice all of their wine labels have a linden tree. They state this is a “symbol of Slovene independence and of a period in which our vision of being an independent winegrower was born.” The talented winemaker, Matjaz Lemut, has been making wine since before he was 18. He is very involved in the wine community and even helped start the annual wine festival, Modri les Noirs, which celebrates Pinot Noir wine producers.
We had the pleasure of being guided through three of Tilia’s pinot noir wine selections: Sunshine Tilia Estate, Tilia Estate Black, and Tilia Estate White. The wine choices were accompanied by some delicious local Slovenian cheese and bread.
Tilia Estate White Label Pinot Noir 2016
Tilia Black Label Pinot Noir Estate
As we have traveled around the world, we have noticed winemakers are starting to experiment with local spirit production. For example, when we were in South Africa, we tried gin made from triple-distilled Chardonnay from Moreson Wine Farm.
After our wine tasting, Tilia Estate offered a tasting of their grappa, which is made from a blend of grape seeds, stems, and stalks). Their grappa bottles have some cool-looking artistic labels.
Grappa at Tilia Estate in Slovenia wine country
Edi Simcic winery in Slovenia
Hisa Franko also recommended Edi Simcic, which is located in the drop-dead gorgeous Goriska Brda region. This is the wine region that is known as the Tuscany of Slovenia, where the Mediterranean meets the Alps. Their wine tasting room is stunning and offers an incredible panoramic view of the Goriska Brda region.
Stunning view from Edi Simcic Terrace
This experience was the least personal of the four wineries we visited while in Slovenia wine country. A young gentleman gave us a brief overview of the wines we tasted. I will say their wine tasting room is absolutely gorgeous, and it has a sweeping panoramic view of Goriska Brda.
Where to Stay in Slovenia Wine Country
We chose the Dvor Hotel, which is a charming accommodation run by two sisters. They have lovingly restored an old medieval estate into a cute boutique hotel. I love how they have incorporated the old architecture with new modern touches. Their deck overlooks the countryside. The views at sunset are worth booking this hotel alone!
Stunning sunset as seen from the Dvor Hotel
Edi Simcic winery has a gorgeous villa you can rent called Alma Vista complete with an outdoor pool, sound system, and your own private wine cellar.
GUERILA GUEST APARTMENTS
Want to stay right in the heart of a winery? Check out the guest apartments at Guerila Wines that overlook the sweeping vineyards below. That view! Wow, just wow.
PETERC VINEYARD ESTATE
Oh my goodness, this property is incredible. I always like to try new places, and when we come back we are staying here. 9.9 on booking.com. Highlights include breathtaking vineyard views, French furnishings, an outdoor swimming pool, and hiking and cycling nearby. All the things that make me happy.
Where to Eat in Slovenia Wine Country
Front entrance of Gostilna Theodosius
If you want traditional Slovenian food, look for a gostilna. We had lunch at an incredible restaurant called Gostilna Theodosius. We were served by the incredibly kind Gregor Lisjak, who was the owner, the host, and the waiter!
You could have ordered off the menu. Or instead, you can go off-menu and Gregor will cook up an incredible meal based on your preferences and in-season ingredients. Kinda like a food sommelier. This was hands down one of our favorite restaurant experiences in Slovenia.
We were served a mouth-watering, juicy Florentine steak with potatoes and fresh garden peppers.
Amazing local cuisine!
Our hotel recommended this charming local restaurant that is perched high on a hill with excellent views of the Alps. Belica function as a winery, restaurant, and a hotel.
The menu is always changing based on what is in season. We had a lovely meal of pea soup, asparagus risotto, and apple strudelj. If you want to explore more of what delicious food Slovenia offers, do not miss my foodie article below.
Asparagus risotto at Belica restaurant in Slovenia
GOSTILNA PRI LOZJET
Unfortunately, Gostilna Pri Lozjet was closed during our time in Slovenia wine country, but this 1-starred Michelin restaurant is definitely on our list when we come back. The head chef, Tomaž Kavčič, is known as the Picasso of Slovenian cuisine.
It is housed in the former stables and kitchens of an old mansion. Incredibly romantic setting with equally amazing local Slovenian dishes according to the gushing reviews. I can’t want to come back and dine here!
What to Bring on a Slovenia Wine Country Trip
We have done enough wine vacations, and we know what to bring now. Wine sleeves are a must! Designed by a pilot, these are my favorite wine protector sleeves. I purchased them on Amazon back in 2016, and they are still working great. I put my bottles of wine in the protected sleeves, seal it up, and then sandwich them in between my clothes in my checked luggage. No spills yet!
Your wine tours may include walking in the vineyards. If you have high heels, they are going to sink right into the soil. My favorite travel shoe that works great in situations like this one is my Rothys pointed toe flats. Super comfortable, and you can even throw them in the washer!
Wine tours make for a long day. You will drink a lot of wine, and if you are going to last, you have to hydrate! I always bring a water bottle.
Slovenia wine is completely underrated. Now that local food and wine has become the focus of Slovenia’s tourism industry, I feel this will quickly begin to change.
Winemaking in Slovenia has been around before Roman rule. Many wineries have several different generations of winemakers in their family. Instead of mass marketing the big-name varietals, a lot of Slovenian winemakers have chosen to focus on local varietals with minimal intervention, allowing the wine to truly be a reflection of its unique terroir.
The end result?
Phenomenal, high-quality unique wine that will satisfy both the casual wine drinker and the experienced connoisseur. Pair that with delicious fresh ingredients indigenous to Slovenia, and you have the setup for a perfect wine getaway.
The gorgeous Goriska Brda wine region in Slovenia
Questions about our stay in Slovenia wine country?
Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for posting this. My wife and I are flying in and out of Vienna May 2-14 and plan on visiting Kobarid, wine country, and Lake Bled area. Hoping to secure a table (and room) at Hisa Franko. We are going to try to do it without a car and will hire a driver. but in case we need a car, how was driving from Kobarid and Hisa Franko and wine country? Thanks again for posting. Trip sounds fantastic.
Thanks for reaching out. You are going to love Slovenia wine country! My husband and I have dined at quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants, and Hisa Franko probably ranks as one of our favorites. We actually planned our vacation around that experience. I hope you are able to secure the reservation. Driving in wine country was very scenic and breathtaking. Certain sections were a little windy, 2-lanes, and higher in the hills but nothing scary or intimidating. We used the local company, Atet, and had a good experience. Happy to answer any other questions. Enjoy your trip!