Find Eat Local joined together with Savor the Experience Tours and JetSetting Fools on an epic one-day, three-winery expedition on a trail that we dubbed the Slovenian Wine Highway, or SLO Wine Highway for short.

Slovenia – shaped like a chicken facing east – is not a big country, but it certainly has diverse landscapes: mountains, lakes, cities, coastline, caves and hundreds of vineyards. The country’s small size coupled with ample wineries inspired a journey; a cross-country wine tasting adventure.

Vipava Valley Tasting Tours

Slovenia Wine Roads in a day - SloWineHighway

Wine Tasting at Wine House Cuk – Hisa Vina Cuk 

It was barely past 8:00 in the morning when we stood on the lawn at Hisa Vina Cuk. Eva was welcoming us to her family’s home with a bottle of sparkling wine that she sliced open with a saber. As its bubbly contents spilled from the top, it marked the official beginning of our Slovenian Wine Highway.

Wine Tasting at Wine House Cuk – Hisa Vina Cuk

The Slovenian-Hungarian family at Hisa Vina Cuk

Eva welcoming us with a bottle of sparkling wine that she sliced open with a saber.

Eva welcoming us with a bottle of sparkling wine that she sliced open with a saber.

The Slovenian-Hungarian family at Hisa Vina Cuk has been producing wines on the Lendava Hills in the Prekmurje region for several generations, but the history of the land involves stories of heroes, enemies and lovers from the early 1600s. Cuk wines are named after the characters in the stories creating a deep connection between the history of the land and the winery.

Vineyards House Wine Cuk Lendava Slovenia

Vineyards House Wine Cuk Lendava Slovenia

Hisa Vina Cuk has been producing wines for generations.

While wine is the focus of the Cuk family, it’s not their only product. Homemade is their mission and nearly everything they serve – from meat to vegetables to breads and spreads – are created in-house. We tasted their homegrown ‘100-year-old’ ham, meso iz tunke (meat baked in lard) and beef sausage from Cuk-raised Scottish Highland cattle. Accompanying the meat was fresh-baked perec, a white bread popular in Prekmurje, that we smothered in ajvar (red pepper relish) and zaseka (minced lard), a spread much better than butter.

Hisa vina cold plate

Homegrown ‘100-year-old’ ham, meso iz tunke and beef sausage.

Wine tasting at House Wine Doppler – Hisa Vina Doppler

From Hisa Vina Cuk, our Slovenian Wine Highway was taking us 50 miles northwest in the direction of Maribor to Hisa Vina Doppler in the Styria region, an area with a long history of prosperous winemaking. In a place where the past is so well-preserved, however, we were visiting a winery that is breaking from tradition – both in style and in management.

House Wine Doppler

House Wine Doppler’s contemporary establishment felt supremely urban amidst the green.

House Wine Doppler - Chic design meets idyllic charm.

Hisa Vina Doppler’s contemporary establishment felt supremely urban amidst the green, rolling hills; the juxtaposition a true introduction of chic design meets idyllic charm. But what truly captured our attention were the 360˚ views of forest-covered hills and deep valleys dotted with church steeples.

Not only is Hisa Vina Doppler progressive in their state-of-the-art facility, but also in their ownership. For the past two generations, women have been running the winery; a role traditionally held by men. The owner, Mihaela, greeted us on the patio with a glass of Diona.

Diona Sparkling Wine Doppler

The sophisticated sparkling wine paired perfectly with the classy location and was enhanced by the extraordinary combination of parmesan cheese and fresh raspberries drizzled with honey.

Diona Sparkling Wine Doppler

For the past two generations, women have been running the winery Doppler

Appetizer Parmeggiano and Honey

Appetizer Parmeggiano and Honey - Extraordinary combination of parmesan cheese and fresh raspberries drizzled with honey.

Excel at making white wine

At Hisa Vina Doppler, they excel at making white wine, particularly sipon. The regional varietal, which was named after a Frenchman proclaimed, “C’est si bon,” meaning “It is so good,” is known to be light and refreshing. Doppler’s signature wine, 360˚, is aged for 18 months and is made each year in limited quantities from the finest grapes of the harvest.

Doppler’s signature wine, 360˚

Doppler’s signature wine, 360˚

Fermenting wine in bottles, Hisa Vina Doppler, Styria, Slovenia

Fermenting wine in bottles, Hisa Vina Doppler, Styria, Slovenia - We couldn’t help but ask for a second glass

The bottle we were tasting was made exclusively from sipon grapes. Full and rich with a smooth buttery taste, we couldn’t help but ask for a second glass before our departure.

Wine Tasting at House Wine Rondic – Hiša Vin RondičFrom the Styria region, our Slovenian Wine Highway headed west 135 miles toward Vipava Valley to the town of Slap and Hisa Vin Rondic. 27 acres of vineyards where they primarily grow white varietals.

27 acres of vineyards where they primarily grow white varietals.

27 acres of vineyards where they primarily grow white varietals.

27 acres of vineyards where they primarily grow white varietals.

As we stepped into the winery, we were greeted with the pungent scent of fermenting grapes – an indication that the harvest was well underway.

Fermenting grapes, Hisa Vin Rondic, Slap, Slovenia

Have to taste Pinela

We set off for a stroll in Hisa Vin Rondic’s 27 acres of vineyards where they primarily grow white varietals, including malvazija and pinela, a rare and indigenous grape. Pinela grapes are used to make a fresh wine with a slight copper taste and, at Hisa Vin Rondic, it is bottled unfiltered.

The vineyards are subjected to the Burja wind, both a blessing and curse to winemakers in the region. On our visit, the wind was still – and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds just in time for sunset when we sipped our first glass of pinela wine.

Malvazija house wine rondic

Malvazija house wine rondic

Sun peeked out from behind the clouds just in time for sunset.
Back inside the family’s home, glasses of malvazija were poured as we feasted on homemade specialties of jota (soup of cabbage, pork and beans), frtalja (baked egg with sage), local sausage and bread. With gloved hands, Matej presented an original copy of Vinoreja, a winemaking book written in 1844 by Slovenian Matija Vertovec that was discovered in the home and includes the author’s personal inscription.

Jota Local Slovenia Dish

Jota Local Slovenia Dish – soup of cabbage, pork and beans

Frtalja Local Slovenia Dish

Frtalja (baked egg with sage), local sausage and bread

Taste Cabernet sauvignon at Wine House Rondič

In the dimly lit, rustic cellar, we gathered around old wooden barrels to taste a special wine that Matej retrieved from behind an iron gate. The dusty bottle contained a nine-year-old cabernet, which was decanted and swirled – and can best be described as tasting like Christmas in a bottle.

We had one final glass of label-less, homemade brandy and then our Slovenian Wine Highway had officially come to an end.

Taste Cabernet sauvignon at Wine House Rondič

9 year old cabernet, which was decanted and swirled. Taste Cabernet sauvignon at Wine House Rondič

For a more in-depth story, read Slovenian Wine Highway on JetSettingFools.com


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