Primorska is a wine region of Slovenia that is known in English as The Slovenian Littoral. The wine region is one of the oldest in Slovenia and in recent years has become increasingly popular for its excellent and high-quality wines. Although the wines of Primorska have gained significant attention locally and internationally, the high cost of the wines means that they are not known for their everyday casual drinking. The most important grape varietals of the Primorska region are the local, traditional grapes such as Refosco, Tokaj, and Rebula. The proximity of Italy has had a strong influence on Primorska, making it one of the best wine tourism and gastronomy destinations in Slovenia.
The Primorska wine region is one of the older wine regions of Slovenia and is best known for its high-quality wines that are associated with high prices.
Within the region, local and traditional grapes still dominate the varietals grown, including Refosco, Tokaj and Rebula. Rebula has been as successful in this wine region as it has been in its homeland in Italy, just across the border. Despite this, the reputation of Primorska remains for growing international grape varietals. One of the most successful international varietals grown in Primorska is Bordeaux. Others that are grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmener which are used to make high quality Primorska red wines. Other popular varietals include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.
The location of the Primorska region has had a major influence on viticulture in the region. Its proximity to Italy is evident in the style of wines produced and in the local architecture. The people of the region are officially bilingual in both Slovene and Italian.
The terroir of Primorska is comprised of flysch, limestone and dolomite – the combination of which makes a famous brown soil known as terra ross. This soil is noteworthy as it requires human deep ploughing with special plods that are a tradition in this part of Slovenia. The region receives an annual average rainfall of 1460 mm, with hot summers and rare snowfall in the winter months.
The Winemaking Districts of Primorska
Within Primorska there are no appellations but there are various districts where winemaking techniques and the wine produced differs. The winemaking districts of Primorska are Vipava (3005 ha), Slovenian Istra (2331 ha), Goriska Brda (1992 ha), and Karts (753 ha). Karst is a flat plateau district that is located near the Italian city of Triest. It is known for the Teran wine which is very dark in colour with a high level of acidity. This red wine is made from Refosco grapes planted in the red, iron-rich soils of the area. The Brda area is best known for its Rebula white wine and red blends of Merlot and Cabernet. The Merlot wines have a gentle and pleasant taste with aromas of raspberry. In the Viapava area, the most commonly produced wines are light and crisp white wines made from Pinela and Zelen grapes.
Red Grape Varieties: Refosk, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignonm, Pinot Noir
The Merlot wines of the Primorska region have a gentle and pleasant taste with wonderful aromas of raspberries. These wines can be enjoyed both young and mature, but when aged, they develop excellent noble qualities and more of an aromatic bouquet. Primorska Merlots are perfect for those who prefer a woody wine with strong tannins – characteristics which are achieved through barrique ageing. This ageing process allows the wine to absorb the aromas of the wood to produce a strong taste.
Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Primorska have distinct scents of blueberries and raspberries with hints of drying hey. These wines can be enjoyed young but reach their full potential when they are aged. This ageing allows them to develop a more complex bouquet that includes nutmeg and cinnamon.
Refosk wine is a very dark ruby coloured red wine with strong tannins and flavours of wild berries and plums. This wine can be enjoyed young when it is lively and fruit. This wine does not benefit greatly from ageing.
In terms of Primorska white wines, Rebula wine has a firm acidity with apple, peach and citrus notes. Pinela wine white wine has a lemon-yellow colour with a peachy and floral bouquet, this wine has citrus notes and a medium finish. Pinela is a dry wine with moderate alcohol levels that is generally crisp and fresh.
The The Petric Winery is a unique urban winery in the Vipava Valley of Primorska. The tradition of wine making in the Petric family extends back to 1778 and today the Petric vineyards cover 8 hectares of land, producing special and high-quality wines. The Petric Winery welcomes visitors for wine tasting at the cellar door, paired with the best in local produce. Winery tours are hosted by prior arrangement.
Domacija Razman is a winery, estate and Inn on the Istrian Wine Road in Primorska. This winery sits on 5 hectares of land and is famous not only for their excellent quality wines but also for their excellent Istrian cuisine. On the estate there is also an Inn for those who would like to extend their stay. Domacija Razman opens their doors for wine tasting and tours and also for wine holidays at any time of the year.
Vina Bordon is a family run winery that was established in 1985 by Ivan Bordon – the first private winemaker in the Slovene Istria. Today, Vina Bordon produces award winning wines in their strive for perfection and innovation. Vina Bordon is open for wine tasting and visits to the old mill where visitors can see the rich history of wine making in the area and learn more from the farm wine experts.
The Places that Should not be Missed when Visiting Primorska
Stanjel – The Old Roman Fort of Stanjel
Stanjel was once a Roman fort but is today a quaint village that sounds proudly on top of a hill. Its geographic location has made it an important settlement of the region since the iron age. The walls surrounding the village of Stanjel were built in the 15th century and fortified during the 17th century to defend the village from Turkish raids. One of the biggest attractions in Stanjel is The Ferrari Garden. Other things to see in Stanjel include the Stanjel Castle, the Church of St. Daniel and the Church of St. Gregory.
Piran – The Gem of the Adriatic Sea
Piran is famed for being one of the most beautiful Mediterranean towns in Europe. This town filled with narrow streets and colourful houses is located on the Piran Peninsula and is known for its vibrant atmosphere. The best things to do in Piran include visiting the Tartini Square, seeing the Church of St. George, climbing the town bell tower, walking the medieval town walls, wandering through the old town, and dining on some of the freshest seafood in Europe.
Izola – The Picturesque Fishing Town of Izola
Izola is a small fishing port that is located just 7km southwest of the town of Koper in Primorska, Slovenia. Traditionally, Izola was considered one of the poorer of the historical towns along the Slovenian coast and because of this was often overlooked by foreign visitors. Today Izola is the perfect tourist destination that would be included on all itineraries to Primorska. This charming port has a uniquely Venetian feel and a large marine with narrow old winding streets lined with bustling restaurants and bars. Izola has the perfect seaside atmosphere for a beautiful and relaxing Slovenian holiday.
Feel on top of the world in Vogel
Vogel is a family ski resort perfectly located overlooking the magnificent Lake Bohinj. Vogel offers both difficult and long pistes for more experienced skiers and opportunities for beginners. It is one of Slovenia’s highest resorts at 1800m and because of its height, has consistently good snow. The resort is accessed via gondola from the shores of Lake Bohinj. Nearby to the resort, the town of Bohinjska Bistrica has a modern water park and a host of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops for a day of exploring.
The Wonderful Outdoor World of Primorska
The natural environment of Primorska brings a number of different worlds into one location. With its green walking trails, stretches of perfect coast, and rolling hills, Primorska has an environment to suit every nature lover and is the perfect place to slip into the quiet life.
Skocjan Caves – The Underground Karst Wetland
The Skocjan Caves form a unique cave system located in the Skocjan Caves Regional Park on the Kras Plateau of South West Slovenia. The cave system is made up of limestone caves, collapsed dolines and 6 kilometers of underground passages at a depth of more than 200 meters. Inside the caves there are many waterfalls and one of Europe’s largest underground chambers. In 1972 the Skicjan Caves were inscribed on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites as a natural phenomenon of global significance. With visiting the caves, visitors can take guided tours through the caves and also participate in one of the many educational programmes. There are also opportunities to learn more about the projects and research being conducted on the geography of the area.
Vipava Valley – The Green Lands of Primorska
The Vipava Valley is located at the base of the Karst plateaus of Primorska, Slovenia. The valley is perfectly located between the Alpine Karst and the Mediterranean coast, basking in the European sun. This valley is best known for its rolling, endless vineyards, dotted with small, quaint villages. When travelling through the valley the smell of maturing fruit is unmissable thanks for the bora breezes blowing through. The best way to explore the Vipava Valley is by foot or bicycle and it can be visited at any time of the year. Activities to enjoy in the valley include cycling, hiking, paragliding, fishing and mountain climbing – a paradise for outdoor lovers.
Secovlje Salt Pans
The Secovlje Salt Pans are located in the Secovlje Salina Landscape Parkin Primorska, Slovenia. This park covers 1600 acres of land and is home to a network of saltworks the are the largest Slovenian salt evaporation ponds. They are also home to a wide range of plant and animal species. The first record of salt production at the Secovlje Salt Pans is in 804 when the area was made up of several small salt pans owned by the local monasteries. The salt pans here have been active since the 13th century. Today, the salt from these salt pans is still produced using traditional methods and tools, giving the salt its unique taste and special local characteristics.
The Vibrant Flavours of Primorska
The cuisine of Primorska is strongly influenced by its extremely diverse landscape, climate, history, and neighboring cultures. Primorska has become well known as a culinary tourism destination and is lauded for its fresh seafood and vibrant eateries. This region of Slovenia is the perfect location to relax and sample the wonderful local treats.
Kraski Prsut – Slovenian Cured Meat
Perhaps the most famous of all of the cured meats of Slovenia is Kraski Prsut. This meat is also known as Karst ham and is a non-smoked and dry cured ham. The production of this ham goes back hundreds of years and it is considered the gold standard in cured meats. The authentic and unique flavour of Kraski Prsut is thanks to the special climatic conditions of the Karst region that directly influence the drying and ageing of the meat. Despite technological innovations, Kraski Prsut is made using only traditional methods. The meat is rich in minerals and vitamins, with extremely high levels of protein. In making the meat it is salted twice using only coarse salt from the Slovenian coast. It is then left to at approximately 12-16 degrees Celsius.
Sladka Repa – A Side Dish of Sweet Turnips
Sladka Repa is also known as sweet turnip. This dish is made with a mixture of turnips, sugar, lard and flour. This dish is most popular in the Vipava region of Slovenia. In preparing Sladka Repa, turnips are cut into small blocks and boiled in water until they are tender. Following this, the sugar is sauteed in the lard, along with the flour. The cooked turnips are added to this mixture and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Selinka – Slovenian Vegetable Soup
Selinka soup is also known as sjelna and is a celery soup that originates in the Vipava region of Slovenia. Traditionally, Slovenian women would prepare selinka soup for dinner and serve it accompanied by potatoes or polenta. In preparing the soup, celery is sliced and cooked with bacon until it is tender. The mixture is then thickened with flour and lard. To finish the soup, it is seasoned with salt and pepper and served on a large plate.