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Why Goriška Brda Is Such A Great Place For Wine Lovers

Thanks to a diverse, varied and inviting range of wines, Slovenian wines are now recognized as some of Europe’s best wines. Yet only a few insiders know Slovenia’s Goriška Brda wine region.

Goriška Brda is a paradise for wine lovers.

Rich in vineyards and charming white churches, Goriška Brda is located close to the Italian border between the Adriatic sea and the Alps. But there’s a lot more to this beautiful place than meets the eye.

In this post, we will help you navigate the surrounding vineyards, discover the delicious wines, and point out some must-see wine tastings and local events where you can try out the most famous Slovenian wines and local cuisine.

Let’s go.

Slovenian wine region: Goriška Brda/ Photo: Kristančič Winery
Slovenian wine region: Goriška Brda/ Photo: Kristančič Winery

Where is Goriška Brda in Slovenia?

When most people taste Slovenian wine, their thoughts drift to the rolling green hills found in Goriška Brda.

Goriška Brda is in a wine region in Western Slovenia called Primorska, which is on the border of Italy. This hilly region has 16,040 acres of vineyards (6,490ha) and renowned for its dynamic and diverse wine production.

Goriška Brda is named after the towns of Brda and Goriška.

During the early 20th century, it fell on the Italian side of the border, now known as Gorizia.

Although the border between Italy and Slovenia technically separates the town of Gorizia from the rest of the country, the wine production is also across the Italian border.

To get to Goriska Brda from Ljubljana, you will take a train and transfer to a bus in Nova Gorica. It should take you just under an hour to get there by public transportation.

The Goriška Brda region is also close to other wine districts in Primorska, such as Vipava Valley and Collio.

Why is Goriška Brda called a wine capital in Slovenia?

Known as Slovene Tuscany, I think this is a disservice to the region. Goriška Brda can standalone. Slovenia is a wine-producing country that began with the Celt period and before Roman times.

Let’s go through the five factors of quality wine to show how this place became a wine capital in Slovenia today, as much as in Roman times:

1. Climate in the Goriška Brda wine region

The Alps to the north, and the sea in the south, influence the climate here. The northwest of Slovenia is one of the wettest regions in Europe.

This may explain those greenest of green hills when we think of Slovenia.

At the foot of Italy’s Julian Alps, Brda has a distinct sub-alpine world feel to it, and the name Brda means “hills.”

Because of its location, the region experiences both the sun-baked Adriatic coastline and the various climate effects of the Alps.

Goriška Brda wine cellars border Italy’s Friuli and the Julian Alps, and the region experiences hot summers and cool autumns.

The result is aromatic and powerful wines.

Only 45 miles away from the Alps’ highest peak is the Montefalco. The Bora winds blow from the mountains from November to April. Powerful gusts roll down from the northeast.

This windy season can cause havoc to the vineyards. Fortunately, this does not happen all the time.

The winds can also be beneficial.

In particular, for the local specialities of prosciutto (ham). In fact, the air-dried hams found in this region are a brilliant match for the Teran wine from Refošk grapes!

2. Soil in the Goriška Brda wine region

The rolling hills are a mixture of red and grey marl, sandstone, and flint gravel. The soil provides the wine from this area with its distinct character.

The geology here is also found in the rugged landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage Site around Skocjan, and is the remnants of geological erosion.

The type of soil here commonly forms loosely knit patches and is well-drained. Perfect for the wine produced in these quality vineyards.

Given how close we are to Italy’s Friuli region, Primorska favours the style of wine recognized as Friulian.

The beautiful countryside here is a continuation of Collio region in Italy.

3. Goriška Brda white wines

Rebula is a medium-bodied white grape with a pronounced aroma of apples and pears. Found throughout Slovenia, it is most planted here.

The Rebula wine goes well with appetizers like olives or chicken liver pate with apple chutney.

Across the border in Italy, the Rebula growing in the vineyard is called Ribolla Gialla.

Winemakers can make Rebula in various styles, such as being raised in stainless steel until razor sharp. Like this, Rebula gives local sparkling wines and premium sparkling blends a bit of depth and freshness.

While other blends made from the Rebula grape are defiantly “natural.” In this way, the ferment in the wine cellar moves to traditional amphorae.

Not solely Rebula, but other white grapes, such as Jakot (aka Tokaj Friulano) and Malvasia are made in this way.

After months of skin contact, white wines turn orange (or amber).

As in Friuli, Goriska Brda also has a variety of international and local grapes. At wine tastings, you will find high-quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Some of these include the aromatic and fleshy Sauvignonasse grape, commonly referred to as Friulano when you are in a wine cellar in Friuli.

Pinot Grigio may also be from the same grape as in Italy, but from a Goriska Brda wine cellar, the white wine is more complex and powerful.

While the Malvazija grape can be a light-bodied wine with honeydew melon and sweet lime notes.

Malvazija makes it an ideal pairing at a wine tasting with the ubiquitous local dish struklji – a boiled dough wrapped around various fillings like cheese or spinach and then baked (or sometimes served as a savoury dumpling).

4. Goriška Brda red wines

We know Goriška Brda for its white and orange wines. However, they also have some superb red wine, typically made from Barbera and Teran (local name for Refosco or Refošk grape).

If you have a wine tasting of Slovenian wines, you will often encounter a variety of wines made from French grapes, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

And if you are lucky, your tasting may also include the delicious Pinot Noir emerging from more than a few Goriška Brda wine cellars.

Slovenian wine region: Goriška Brda/ Photo: Kristančič Winery
Slovenian wine region: Goriška Brda/ Photo: Kristančič Winery

5. Are Slovenian wines organic?

Orange and natural wine from Slovenia wine regions are some of the best in the world.

Most of the country’s natural and orange wine producers are international experts in this ancient “new technology” of amphorae in the wine cellar.

The region of Goriska Brda started the pursuit of quality early, back in the 1980s. Today, you can find excellent organic and natural wines from here and all across Primorska, such as the Karst region, Vipava Valley and all along the Slovenian littoral.

Experience Goriška Brda in your way

If you visit Goriška Brda, there are many things to do in this beautiful place besides visiting wineries.

Make sure that you have time for hiking and trekking through these beautiful hills, exploring the medieval town of Dobrovo and its famous castle.

If you visit in Spring, then you can not miss the traditional food and wine tasting festivals throughout the region.

The town of Vinjevik is said to be the origin of Rebula (the hint is in the town’s vinous name). You could find the Rebula grape variety in Brda during the 14th century.

The town celebrates the Rebula grape with a traditional wine and food festival. Revel in a wide range of wine styles made from Rebula here, including orange wines.

The Brda region is superbly located for wine cellar tastings, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the variety of Italian-inspired dishes from any local restaurant.

Good food, best wines, and panoramic views: this is a beautiful place for local cuisine, wine varieties, and wine tastings.

Slovenian wine producer from Goriška Brda you need to know:

Kristančič | Goriška Brda | Primorska

In a secluded region surrounded by mountain ranges to the East and North with only one road in and out of the region from Nova Gorica. In fact, to get there you need to drive a few kilometres through Italy before emerging on the other side of Slovenia again!  Covered by orchids, cypress trees and rolling vineyards, it’s a beautiful place to visit. The main philosophy behind the wines is to preserve the connection with nature and the distinctive peacock design first appeared in 1990, to reflect this modern – traditional approach:

Try this: Kristančič Rebula 2020

Kristančič Rebula 2020

Goriška Brda is a small wine region in western Slovenia, but do not let this fool you.

Its small size provides plenty of quality. Here’s how:

  • Long history of winemaking
  • Location and Geography
  • Climate and soil
  • Revelatory white wines
  • Powerful red wines
  • Organic, Natural & Orange wines, too
  • Beautiful countryside

Brda has many award-winning wineries and the most established Slovenian wine cellars for wine tastings. It is also a beautiful region in central Europe full of small, independent wineries with excellent local food.

My first experience of Goriška Brda and the surrounding countryside made me fall in love with it. But I could not believe this gorgeous Brda region was relatively unknown outside Slovenia.

A journey is born from a spark of inspiration. Brda wine region provided that spark for me. Without it, I may not have discovered this region and the many fantastic wines made here by local winemakers.

If you would like to taste more Slovenian wines, VIDA has you covered.

Have you tried any wines from Goriška Brda? Tweet us! 

Thank you to Marko Kristančič for the images of the winery in Goriška Brda

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