If you slip over the Italian border heading east through Friuli to Slovenia, and hug the Mediterranean, you end up in the region known locally as Kras.
The region straddles northeastern Italy and southwestern Slovenia, one of the few wine regions to share countries, and indeed share parts of towns (like Trieste, as an example).
It’s readily identifiable for its karst limestone cliffs – in fact, the region Kras gave birth to the nomenclature of karst topography.
One third of Slovenia’s surface area is composed of limestone where dolines, sinkholes, blind valleys
dry valleys and various other karst phenomena can be found. Underground, there are innumerable karst caves and abysses including the famous Postojna and Skocjan caves.
Lipica Stud Farm is another big tourist attraction. The main towns are Stanjel to the north, stretching down to Skocjan Caves/Kozina in the south, Lipica/Trieste/Kostanjevica out west.
Sezana is at its centre and is the largest town.
The land is predominately toiled by farmers, and the winemakers aren’t renowned for their capitalistic tendencies with wine production, generally preferring to keep things local.
The wines of the region are typically affected by the heavy limestone content in the "terra rosa" soils,
though some dirt is rich and red.Likewise, the proximity to the sea can add a lick of briny tang to the wines!
WHERE TO START?
A car is really a necessity to travel the wine route and the
Kras wine road connects almost 170 different producers and stretches above the Trieste bay, on a plateau with the altitude ranging from 50 to 500 m.
Due to the Bora wind, the sun and a lack of surface water, the vines of Karst region are full of delicious grapes, from which the Karst people
have been making excellent wines for centuries.
Typical wine cellars called “hrami” are fascinating places: some of them are cut into stone and some have
been carved into caves by nature itself, whereas others captivate the interest of visitors merely due to their size or their stone walls. Dry-cured hams,
gradually maturing in the wine room, give the latter a special note.
Make your way to the Sezana Tourist Office at Partizanska cesta 63 to get more information on the wine roads.
Vinokras is also found in Sezana at 1a Sejmiska Pot.!
HOW TO GET TO THE KARST?
From Ljubljana, you take the main freeway (A1) towards Koper and the coast. Near Divaca turn right heading for Sezana (E61). Turn off at Sezana!
You can also enter from Italy from Trieste/Villa Opcina (E61) and (E70) from the north.
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THE MIGHTY TERAN (red)
Teran, the fiery red thick wine, is one of the most important products of the Karst soil, also known as “terra rossa” or “jerina”.
Teran is a genuine Slovenian wine and is produced from Refosco vine grapes.
The medicinal features of teran are the result of its numerous mineral substances and lactic acids,
but it is also known for its distinctive aroma which resembles the scent of wild berries. Teran is a young wine of full taste; with maturing,
its characteristics are completely changed and gradually become more similar to red wines from around the world - such wine is called TERANTON.
The kind of teran that is made from the best grapes, suitable for wine of superior quality, is known as the “izbrani teran PTP” (selected teran PTP).
TERAN PTP is dry wine, served at room temperature together with prosciutto, spicy cheese, venison meat, dry-smoked meat products and red meat.
The people of the Karst learned how to turn teran into a delicious liqueur, red with an intense violet hue, tasting of orange, vanilla, cloves and wild berries ...
Teran liqueur goes hand in hand with desserts, wild berries and plum gnocchi ... Teran liqueur PTP is produced according to tradition and marked by superb quality.
The mineral-rich valley of Brestovica, where Teran is made from a variety of Refosk grapes, gives excellent conditions for its growth. Teran PTP is an autochthonous,
red – almost black colour wine. It is a dry, full-bodied, thick wine, with a special wild fruit bouquet with the hints of raspberries.
It is the essence of the Karst red soil, the north-east wind - burja, the sun, stamina and spirit of the farm Rebula and the region, where it lies.
Teran PTP, containing slightly higher concentration of all acids, characteristic lactic acid and a moderate alcohol content, is traditionally served with the Karst air-dried ham –
pršut, salami, bacon, red meat, but also with strong and flavoured cheeses. Teran PTP - High-quality Teran represents the most important product of the farm Rebula.
It has been successfully placed on the Slovene and foreign market. .
True Teran is something of an acquired taste. Appealing to those who delight in the spicy, the sour and the herbal. Easy going, fruity, soft examples exist,
but some would argue these are not Teran. If you don’t like high acid, highly mineral reds then Teran is not your wine.
Above the barrels of aging Teran hang legs of aging pršut, what the Italians call prosciutto.
Traditionally Teran is enjoyed with pršut. The fat and salt make for an exciting contrast to the bracing red.
It is similarly perfect with charred rare beef. In addition to Teran they grow a rare local white variety called Vitovska Grganja,
only 150 acres or so of the variety exist globally. Handled carefully it produces lovely wines that capture the scent of the sea and the forest.
They macerated part of the grapes making it a “half orange wine” or “partially macerated white wine”. Reaping the benefits of the technique without overwhelming the subtleties of the grape.
The surprise specialty of Štoka Wines are the traditional method sparkling wines they age in a natural Karstic cave which provides the perfect conditions for such wines.
Made from both white and red grapes they manage to give new expression to the specific sorts and are adding to a modern redefinition of what is possible in Kras.
The frothy purple sparkling Teran makes an unexpectedly good introduction to the region and grape variety.
It has all the verve of its still equivalent, while the bubbles softening its acids and give further expression to the aromas of raspberries pepper and iron.
WHAT OTHER VARIETIES ARE PRODUCED?
VITOVSKA GRGANJA or VITOVSKA WINE
Vitovska is a variety indigenous to Kras,
but is also found in Friuli-Venezia Giulia of Italy.The grape has been identified as a cross of malvasia bianca lunga and prosecco tondo and is generally used to make dry white wines.
This is an old local vine whose white dry wine with a fresh aroma of fruit and white blossoms has nowadays been gradually filling barrels of Karst cellars again.
It is a refreshing wine that can be drunk alone, not just with meals, and has a mild taste of almonds. The wine is elegant and has a moderate alcohol content.
Vitovska wine should be cooled to 12°C and served with light dishes such as pasta, fish, seafood, white meat or vegetables.
Vitovska is a white traditional wine. On the farm Rebula it is planted out on the ground where warm sunbeams are of utmost importance to achieve its high sugar content.
The wine is dry, gold-yellow-coloured, of surprising freshness and fullness, with a bouquet reminding aroma of almonds. Despite its higher degree of alcohol,
the wine, thanks to its agreeable content of acid which leaves a flavour of freshness and fruit, goes well with homemade products.
This is a variety that has been grown historically in the Mediterranean region and thrives in the Karst soil.
The wine is of straw-like yellow colour with green hue. Its aroma resembles acacia blossoms, exotic fruit or even white pepper.
It is a moderately dry wine with intense taste and a medium alcohol content. Malvasia wine, cooled to 12°C, is served with fish, risotto, white meat and fresh cheese.
Malvazija (also known as Beli Refosk) is a white traditional wine. On the farm it is planted out on the ground where warm sunbeams are of utmost importance to achieve its high sugar content.
The wine is dry, gold-yellow-coloured, of surprising freshness and fullness, with a bouquet reminding aroma of apricots and peaches. Despite its higher degree of alcohol, the wine,
thanks to its agreeable content of acid which leaves a flavour of freshness and fruit, goes well with homemade products.
KRAS WINE ROAD IS ALSO THE HOME OF THE FOLLOWING WINE SORTS:
Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rebula, Malvasia, Italian Riesling, Pinela,
Zelen, Barbera, Green Sauvignon, Muscato Bianco, Prosecco, Pikolit, Poljšakica, Klar- nica, Briška Glera, Blue Pinot Pergolin, Cabernet Franc, Refosco, Syrah
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WINE TASTING IN THE KARST REGION
Through our outstanding partners we can help organise an unforgettable private day tour to the Karst Region.
You could also combine The Karst wineries with visits to nearby Istra, Vipava or Goriska Brda wine regions plus attractions like Skocjan Caves, Lipica Stud Farm, Socerb Castle and even nearby Trieste.
Duration: Full Day Private Tours available on request
Where: The Karst Region from anywhere in Slovenia
(including Ljubljana or Maribor)
Min./max. participants: 1-8. // Payment: TBA
Available year round subject to cellar availability.
According to Plinius, the Roman historian, the Roman empress Julia (Giulia), wife of Augustus, supposedly reached a respectable age of 82 years because she used to drink wine from Karst
(known as “vino puccinum”), particularly valued by the ancient Greeks who called it “Praetorian wine”.
The karst surface of the Kras area seems quite inhospitable: clean white limestone rocks can be seen everywhere, with vegetation struggling for survival.
The soil of this area is terra rossa, the characteristic red earth that is a product of limestone decay - in geological terms, brand new. On exposed sites, the layer of soil is very thin,
but it does collect in the characteristic karst valleys or vrtace. The soil has a high content of aluminum oxide, and the characteristic red colour comes from its high content of iron oxides (hematite).
The climate is harsh: scorching summers with frequent lasting droughts and cold winters aggravated by the burja which dries the land. Rainfall is not slight,
but rains tend to come in late spring during the grapevine's flowering season and in the autumn when the grapes are maturing. Rainwater quickly disappears in the porous bedrock.
Some 560 hectares (1384 acres) of Kras vineyards are situated on flat terrain or very lightly inclined slopes: on more variegated relief,
the layer of soil is too thin. The vineyards are carefully weeded to save all the nutrients and water for the vine; the grapevine is grown (or "trained," the term that experts use to denote the initial shaping of a grapevine)
in the form of an arbour (with supporting latticework) so the leaves create shade to protect the soil from the desiccating rays of the sun.
This makes harvest work exceedingly hard and tiring since all the grapes must be cut with harvester's hands above his head.
The western edge of the Kras area bordering on the Koper area has a more submediterranean climate, and the soils are less pure terra rossa.
These sites produce gentler wines such as Refosk, a rich and aromatic Malvazija, and Prosecco.
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and be inspired and amazed by the stunning emerald waters of the Soca River.
The Soca starts in the Julian Alps so this makes a perfect day trip where you can drink in the alpine freshness!
Your first destination is Bovec, the home of adventure sports in Slovenia.
From here you can plan some adventure activities like rafting etc (email us for details)
or plan a hiking trip on the mountain trails.
You can also drive to the top of the Vrsic Pass, for some great views of the Alps.
Kluze Fotress and Boka Falls are notable attractions and if you pop over the border, the Predel Lake is quite beautiful.
Coming back, stop in Kobarid and visit the fine WW1 Museum dedicated to the fierce battle fought in this region. Moving stuff.
Kobarid is also home to Kozjak Falls and many fine walks along the historical trail. Kobarid is also noted as having some of the finest restaurants in Slovenia.
Further south and Tolmin Gorges is another worthy natural attraction plus Most Na Soci is a very picturesque village on the Soca.
Stop in Nova Gorica and visit the peak at Sveta Gora to watch the sunset. Another great day!
Return to the Karst and a long and thoroughly enjoyable day is done!
and visit the famous Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle, a great double combination.
Combine this with visting some wineries in the Vipava Valley along the way. See our Vipava page. The town of Vipava
has a great Vinoteka which will give you an idea of where to go in the region.
Towns like Vipavski Kriz and Stanjel will enchant and delight!
Also east is the cosmopolitan and relaxed capital Ljubljana!
Enjoy the castle and a drink by the river and have dinner at Ljubljana's fine restaurants.
to the coast and enjoy a day in venetian like Piran and the ritz of Portoroz. Head inland for some tastings (check our Istra page)
Izola has some fine restaurants as well. A whole day can be enjoyed on the coast before heading back.
Also south within the Karst are Skocjan Caves, Lipica and Socerb castle. Another great option for a day trip.
As for Italy, Trieste
(home of Illy coffee) is a lively port town with some roman remains and Miramare is everyones favourite castle. Further up is another great castle at Duino.
A trip to down to Trieste is another fantastic day.
Head west to the historical cities of Udine and Cividale, even head north to the peaks of the Dolomites, some stunning scenery awaits!
Of course Venice
is only 2 hours away as well but plan in advance if driving (where to park?) or take the train.
As you can see the Karst makes a great base for day trips.
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