Visitors often overlooked rural western winelands in Slovenia as they tucked away between the Adriatic coast and the Julian Alps. However, the region is, in fact, rich in appeal and charm from gastronomic surprises and boutique wine tasting to the picture-perfect backdrop and adrenaline-fuelled adventures. You can also rent an apartment in Vipava in Borea Rooms.
Vipava Valley may only be just a stone throw away from the capital Ljubljana, but its scenes feel a million miles from the city. Their limestone rocks are peeking out over the forests. The great karst mountains edged the region. Spreading across the valley floor are grape-heavy rows of vines with now and then interruption of terracotta-topped hamlets. To save the tiled roof from the fierce bora wind, their roofs weighed down with rocks. Bora wind rattles through the valley in winter. To the south, verdant gorges and white-grey rock stacks litter the limestone Karst area. To the west, micro-region hills of Goriška Brda roll deeper, nudging against the Italian border, pocked with cypress trees, gothic stone towers adorned their brows that call to Tuscan landscapes.
The surroundings are very peaceful, but a 90-minute drive from the area will take you places in any direction. If you decide to go to the east from here, you will reach laid-back Ljubljana. Going south will take you to the Adriatic beauty Piran. Gong west, you will enjoy the glamour of Venice, and of course the mountainous playground of the Julian Alps to the north.
Superb quality wines
Primorska wine region encompasses Vipava, Brda and Karst and most vineyards in these areas are relatively small, family-run estates. Only little of their wine is exported but the local varietals produced in the region are currently experiencing a surged in popularity. In the region’s south is the oxblood-red Teran, made from Karst’s Refosco grapes, which feature fiery flavour and wild berry aroma. Refosco grapes are grown on mineral-heavy limestone soil and in the salty Mediterranean air. To the northeast, you won’t go far before encountering Zelen grapes. The windy conditions of the Vipava Valley help in producing crisp, herbaceous, drinking whites.
Many younger generations of Primoska’s winemakers embrace modern techniques from eschewing oak barrels to organic and pump-free gravitational winemaking instead of concreating egg-shaped tanks. The vineyards are small, but they are fast becoming one of the strongest aces of the region with the growing appetite for boutique wines and localism.
Cycling between cellar doors
Cycling is one of the best ways to explore the region. Cycling tours allow you to travel gravel paths and single-track roads, winding their way between grapevines from village to village. It is incredible to stop off at cellars for wine tastings. Experience the cellar door in western winelands of Slovenia. Forget about fusty wine tastings or guide-led group tours and instead feel relaxed among friends as winemakers meet you and lead tastings. Winemakers themselves show guests around their estates with pride and splash out glugs of their wines.
Pleasant-tasting local specialities such as pasta, gnocchi and strudel are heavily influenced by Slovenia’s neighbours – Italy in the west and Austria in the north. However, Slovenia is no culinary hanger-on. The country uses fresh, local ingredients on producing regional cuisine from the humblest of cafes to the top-end restaurants, such as the Hiša Franko restaurant located in northwestern Kobarid helmed by the world’s best female chef in 2017 Ana Roš.
The western winelands of the country features locally produced, and often homemade bread, nutty cheeses, and cured sausage served up in wine cellars and restaurants. The bora wind contributed the flavours of cured meat like pršut. Made here for centuries is the high-altitude Tolminc cheese with its hint of tang.
Underground and outdoor adventures
Bora wind in the Vipava Valley ripens the grapes and knocks tiles from roofs, but it does more. It also holds paragliders high above the valley floor from the limestone peaks. Cyclists and hikers would surely enjoy trails in the fantastic surroundings and a lack of traffic to bother.
Karst regions are best for their enormous underground caverns, featuring porous limestone terrain. Postojna and Škocjan caves are the biggest. They can be visited on escorted tours. Spelunking tours of the smaller caves at Postojna can be arranged with Underground Adventures.