Discover the region's venerable orange and natural wine traditions as we explore the dramatic hillside vistas and bucolic vineyards of the Italian Friuli-Collio and Slovenian Brda areas with renowned orange/natural wine expert Simon J Woolf, author of Amber Revolution. Extended visits and tastings at the home of small artisan winemakers gives you the chance to get close-up and personal to the families and winemakers who have helped define the region.
Each day on the tour presents a special opportunity for guests to sit down, talk with and learn from a myriad of friendly local food producers and wine makers in their cellars, vineyards and gardens. Our focus is on winemakers and their creations, divine culinary experiences with local food producers of olive oils, prosciutto, vinegar, cheeses and truffles.
Day 1: Welcome to Slovenia: five-course dinner with wine pairings -- Pick up from Ljubljana airport. Head to Goriska Brda, Slovenia’s gorgeous wine region area. Nothing says welcome to Slovenia like a five-course dinner paired with wines from Kabaj winery, known for their orange wines and listed by Wine & Spirits as Top 100 Winery in the World.
Day 2: Winemakers of Goriska Brda -- Visit to the country’s best sparkling wine producer Bjana with tour of their cellar, the oldest in Brda dating back to early 13th century, and tastings of 4 dry sparklings. Lunch in Brda’s most picturesque medieval hill town of Smartno. Afternoon taking part in Slovenia’s biggest wine celebration – Saint Martin’s day (Sveti Martin in Slovene). Dinner and wine tasting at Klinec winery, situated in the gorgeous hilltop village of Medana, known as a “Grand Cru” area for wine since 1787, and destined to remain that way considering the vitality and purity of Aleks Klinec’s wonderful orange wines.
Day 3: A taste of Italy’s Collio region -- Hop across the border to Italy’s Collio region. Tasting at Francesco Miklus winery, where one of the region’s most promising young winemakers will let us taste his traditionally macerated Ribolla Gialla and Malvasia. Then visit a family to learn the art of prosciutto making using their specific air dried technique with slight smoke from cherry wood. We’ll get a fascinating insight into unfiltered vinegar production (made from Ribolla Gialla grapes) at Walter Sirk’s Aceteria, before dining at his family-run One Michelin star trattoria, La Subida.
Day 4: Winemakers of Italian Friuli region -- All day in Friuli. Visits to Ronchi di Cialla (situated in a valley so unique, it has its own wine classification) and La Viarte wineries to sample the region’s red wines made from the indigenous Schioppettino, Refosco and Tazzalenghe varieties. Visit to Cividale, an historic, picturesque Italian town straddling the banks of the Isonzo river, founded by Julius Caesar in 50 BC. Dinner at L’Osteria della Ribolla winery that was first in the region to create a sparkling rebula wine which we’ll enjoy with their melt-in-your-mouth house sausages and frico, a cheesy fried delight.
Day 5: Wines of Italy’s Carso and Slovenia’s Karst region -- Depart Brda, head to Italy’s Carso region. Wine tasting at Benjamin Zidarich winery whose dramatic five floor, 20m deep rock cellar underneath the vineyards provides a great intro to the stony karst and a memorable place to sample the region’s most distinguished varietals, the fragrant Vitovska and lipsmacking Teran. Back over the border to tour the Slovenian karst hill town of Stanjel with lunch in the town’s castle courtyard. Visit Renčel winery and experience ultra-traditional, natural Slovenian winemaking with tastings of Vitovska (regional white) and Teran. Dinner at restaurant overlooking Vipava Valley.
Day 6: Vipava Valley winemakers -- Full day wine tasting and exploring the family stories of winemakers in the Vipava Valley, a micro-climate region where the burja wind can blow 200km/hr and make wine growing a bit challenging. Tasting at Burja, where Primož Lavrenčič uses the latest concrete eggs to make one of Slovenia’s oldest, most traditional styles of white wine. Visit with Batič family, known for their award-winning biodynamic. wines, to try Vipava’s autochthonous whites Zelen and Pinela, and the much-awarded orange wine “Zaria”. Dinner at the much celebrated Zemono restaurant housed in a converted château with wildly creative, colorful and modern dishes.
Day 7: Olive groves, truffles and Istrian wines -- Wine tasting at Gordia, where chef Andrej Cep has turned his hand to making excellent skin macerated Malvazija and joyful pet nats. We will also see his latest project – a new cellar with a clutch of Georgian qvevri. Cross into Croatia’s Istria region, known for its Malvazija white wines, abundance of truffles and olive oils (recognized as the top olive oil region in the world for the past two years). Dig into delicious beef steak cooked with fresh white truffles in the iconic hill town of Motovun. Tasting at Benvenuti winery in a small Istrian village of Kaldir overlooking Motovun. Istrian specialities of kobasice (spiced sausages), ombolo (pork loin) and gnocchi with Boskarin (a ragu made from local Istrian ox) for our farewell dinner before returning to our lodging in Slovenia.
Day 8: Transfer to airport / End of Tour -- If you’d like to continue your journey of Slovenia to the charming capital of Ljubljana or the pristine nature of Lake Bled and Julian Alps, we can offer an add-on package customized to your wishes.