Our complete wine guide for the:
KARST (KRAS) REGION
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WHERE IS THE KARST?
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 designation of the 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 Škocjan caves. Lipica Stud Farm is another big tourist attraction. The main towns are Štanjel to the north, stretching down to Škocjan Caves/Kozina in the south, Lipica/Trieste/Kostanjevica out west. Sežana is at its centre and is the largest town.
WHERE TO START?
A car is really a necessity to travel the wine route and the
Kras wine roads connects almost 170 different wine producers across the Karst 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.
Its famous for its wine cellars called “hrami” which are fascinating places. Some of them are cut into the stone and some have been carved into caves by nature itself, whereas others captivate the interest of visitors merely due to their size. Dry-cured hams or pršut, gradually maturing in the wine room, gave the hrami a special note.
Make your way to the Sežana Tourist Office at Partizanska cesta 63 to get more information on the wine roads. Vinokras is also found in Sežana at 1a Sejmiska Pot. Tell them Sloveniaforyou sent you!
HOW TO GET TO THE KARST REGION?
From Ljubljana by car, 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.
Busses and trains also stop in Sezana so access is fairly easy by public transport.
Another option is Goopti for a shared or private transfer.
You can of course book a day tour to the Karst with our partners.
Ask Sloveniaforyou at firstname.lastname@example.org for the best way to travel to and from the Karst.
WHAT WINE VARIETIES IS THE KARST FAMOUS FOR?
Teran is the reason you are coming to the Karst. The famous 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 (and designated as 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 meats. 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 Refošk 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. High-quality Teran represents the most important product of the farm Rebula. It has been successfully placed on the Slovene and foreign markets.
True Teran is something of an acquired taste. Appealing to those who delight in the spicy, the sour and the herbal. Easy going, fruity, softer 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
KARST WINE TOURS
A typical Karst Wine Tour
ONE or TWO WINERIES + SIGHTSEEING
The Karst Region is more famous for whats going on underground rather than above ground (like gigantic caves!), but it is also famous for the infamous "Teran" wine and the melt in your mouth pršut (proscuitto) ham.
A fascinating and unique region, enjoy visiting a winery plus taking in the local sights. Get to the Karst fast! Book today.
What is the cost?
Private tour - email for a quote. Can be booked for any day with our partner depending on availability.
8 people per van.
What can be included?
- Pick up and drop off from Ljubljana or Karst/Vipava/Brda/Coast
- Modern Van
- English speaking driver (no guide)
- Visit a hand picked winery for tastings of local varieties like Teran
- Also accompanied by local cuisine like pršut and cheese.
- Listen as the winemaker describes the process of making wine in the Karst
- Visit the cellar and vineyards.
- Visit 2 local sightseeing spots like Škocjan Caves, Lipica or Štanjel.
- Local lunch is optional and can be included.
* If you staying in another location, please email for a quote!
* A guide can be hired to enhance the experience further, enquire for a quote!
* Winery to be confirmed depending on availability
* Tastings 25 - 35€ pp depending on winery
* Optional lunch from 25 - 45€ pp depending on restaurant.
* Entry fees for sights like Caves, Lipica etc. not included.
How do we book?
Simply email us your details:
tourname (Karst1), name, date, number of people, location, mobile number, any sightseeing preferences.
We will get back to you quickly with a quote!
WHERE TO STAY?
Set in a beautiful semi-remote location near Štanjel, the stylish Hotel St Daniel features a restaurant and outdoor swimming pool. Guests love the spotlessly clean rooms, comfortable beds, delicious food and friendly owners. Join them on the terrace for a sunset drink. Book today!
Dreamy setting, with the pool facing the wineyards. Perfect for a relaxing and quite holiday, but also well located to visit the caves, castle etc. It's such a beautiful place. Authentic and with a great view over the vineyards. Breakfast is also really good.”
Located in the heart of Karst region, Guest house Apolonija is a family run establishment with a long tradition. There are six double outstanding rooms and a la carte restaurant available for guests.
Guests can enjoy a private garden, a terrace and a bar. Enjoy an excellent breakfast made from local ingredients that will set you nicely for the day. Book now!
Whether you're a tourist or traveling on business, the Hotel Malovec is a great choice for accommodation when visiting Divača and the Karst.
With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to nearby must-see destinations like the Škocjan Caves, Lipica and the Karst vineyards. This hotel offers beautiful rooms and a great restaurant.
Set in a beautiful location with very friendly staff and amazing food from their restaurant. The patio is beautiful for relaxing and enjoying a drink or meal. An ample fresh breakfast has lots of variety.
Enjoy mountain views from your room. Book today.
Located in Sežana, the Bed & Breakfast Nataly is the perfect choice for staying in the Karst on a budget. Providing air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and a tour desk, The motel features family rooms
and a buffet or Italian breakfast option. Let's book!
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 region is of course distinguished by the limestone Karst with a thin red brown soil layer called terra rossa or jerina, a constant drought due to the lack of surface water, the wind bora, and the abundance of sun.
Due to all these natural advantages, the vines of the Karst region are full of delicious grapes, from which the Karst people have been making excellent wines for centuries.
But 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 redish-brownish soil (called terra rossa or jerina) 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.
Please read this first!
Wine is serious business in Slovenia. The winemakers are passionate and genuine about their craft and love to convey this energy to all those who visit. Wine tasting is a fun, socialable and often educational activity and well worth the cost. For those who want a memorable private tour (note the emphasis on memorable, these are not meant to be drinking sessions!), we at sloveniaforyou only work with the most knowlegeble partners who can offer an above par Wine Experience.
We and our partners do not offer "pub crawl" type experiences as we feel this takes away from the true aspect of what Slovenian vinters work so hard to achieve. Our aim is to offer an opporunity for our guests to encounter Slovenian wine culture at its finest.
Ok, I'm staying in Ljubljana or Bled and want a great day out in the Karst, what do I do?
Take one of partners amazing private wine tours of course!
Scroll up to the tours section to see the tours on offer. A total wine experience or some wine tasting combined with local sights. Either way its a great day out with an experienced tour partner who knows their stuff and are eager to show you this great region!
Email us to organise a private tour.
What if I'm staying in the Karst region and I don't want to drive or don't have a car?
Not a problem. If you are staying in the Karst then we would assume you have a car but even if you don't, Karst is an excellent choice because the area is small and easily managed.
KARST WINE ROAD
The Karst might not have the razzle and dazzle of Brda or a Lake Bled, but if want a relaxing wine holiday on level ground (the Karst is fairly flat), then a week here will be invigorating! The Karst wine road connects almost 170 different wine producers across the Karst plateau with the altitude ranging from 50 to 500 m.
It stretches from Sežana-Tomaj-Dutovlje-Pliskovica-Komen-Štanjel and along and across the border to Opatje Selo down the Italian side to Zgonika and circling back to Sežana.
Make sure if you're visiting the Karst wine region you check these off your itinerary!
> Visit Vinokras and Info centre in Sežana
> Drive the Karst wine road
> Visit a winery or two and buy some local product
> Try the famous local pršut and wild asparagus.
> Visit Lipica stud farm and Škocjan caves
> Try local Varieties Teran, Vitovska and Malvazija
> Drive through local villages of the Karst
> Explore hillside town of Štanjel
> Take in the views from Cerje Peace Memorial
> Explore the Brkini region, famous for its fruit!
> Take a relaxing hike/cycle through local villages & vineyards
> Take in a local festival or osmica - see below
Thanks for visiting the Karst!
Pustovanje (Carnival) – hosted by all villages. Some even organize parades of masks and costumes.
Green vineyards, blossoming fruit trees and meadows.....
Dan odprtih borjačev (Open courtyards day) - in Pliskovica. On this day, visitors are invited to visit Karst homesteads, get to know the traditional handicrafts and taste the delicacies made on various farms.
Br’stovska kolosmica - in Brestovica near the village of Komen is a typical Karst “osmica” or festival and a cycling event.
The Karst hosts the Mesec špargljev (Asparagus Month) - during this event, you will be offered different kinds of wild asparagus menus by friendly local caterers. In spring, numerous osmice open their doors and welcome visitors.
V osrčju dežele terana (In the heart of the land of Teran) – an event hosted by the village of Tomaj where visitors are offered different delicacies and are invited to taste local wines from different farms. The festival is usually accompanied by live music and other forms of entertainment.
1 Kras, 1000 Okusov - Festival vin (One Karst, A Thousand Tastes) - Wine Festival in the village of Štanjel – tasting of wine and traditional home-made dishes.
Mladifest festival Sežana - concerts, games, sports, and workshops are organized.
Poletje pr’ Slamčevih in the village of Pliskovica – a festival of ethno music, theatre comedies, ethnological and children’s workshops.
Praznik pršuta in Teranav (Festival of prosciutto and Teran) - the biggest festival in the region!
St Martins Day Festival - November 8-11
It is a time when the must turns into wine and when tasters, connoisseurs and lovers of autumn delights, especially wine, are united in lively company. An excellent glass of wine, good music, a rich cultural programme and excellent company. St. Martin’s Festival is known for entertainment, culinary exploits and, of course, tasting of Karst wine varieties. Take the hop-on-hop-off bus service that takes you from one open wine cellar to another.
The tasting of young wine and excellent Karst dishes will surely amaze every visitor to this special culinary event. During St. Martin’s Festival, you can find a rich culinary offer in many farms along the Karst Wine Route and an interesting programme is also awaiting you in Sežana and Štanjel.
VIEW SLOVENIA'S OTHER WINE REGIONS
BIZELJSKO/DOLENJSKA - Famous for their repnice (underground wine cellars) and for the variety Cviček
GORISKA BRDA - Famous for their Rebula and Orange wines plus the local fruit.
ISTRA - Famous for their reds in particular Refošk and also try the olive oil!
JERUZALEM - Famous for its breathtaking hillside vines and fine whites!
KARST - Famous for the firey Teran and of course Pršut or Slovenian proscuitto.
MARIBOR - Famous for the Oldest Vine and beautiful local whites.
SLOVENSKE KONJICE - Beautiful vineyards and beautiful wines!
VIPAVA VALLEY - Famous for their Zelen and Pinela and beautiful countryside!
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