During my recent walking food tour of Ljubljana I was able to try several varieties of local wine. Knowing I was interested in trying more, my guide suggested I visit Vipava and further explore Slovenia’s wine valley.
Vipava, and Slovenian wines in general, may not be well known internationally, but they’re well worth a visit. Slovenia produces some truly excellent wines, and as a bonus, you also get to explore an area that’s far less crowded than many other more famous wine producing areas.
Winestronaut had been recommended to me several times as the best agency to tour Vipava with, as they are regional experts. I excitedly booked my tour and set off by bus for an overnight visit to the western Slovenian Located only about an hour from the capital city, reaching Vipava wasn’t difficult.
The bus dropped me in the town center, which coincidentally was where my guesthouse happened to be located.
I had booked a stay at the Guesthouse Koren and easily recommend it to others. My room was large, clean and comfortable, and the breakfast was delicious.
Also, you know you’ve found a good guesthouse when the owner encourages you to pour yourself something from her selection as she checks you in.
The Vinoteca Wine Museum, housed within the town’s tourist office, was also located near my guesthouse. The museum is a collaboration between all of the villages on Vipava’s wine route and offers tastings from 45 different winemakers. This is a great project because it allows you to taste wines from vineyards not yet set up to receive guests for tastings.
To be honest, if you’re not in town for wine tourism, there isn’t much to do and see in Vipava. I was told the town receives approximately 40 visitors a day during the summer, with most if not all coming for wine tourism and many of that number in groups.
The town is small, with less than 2000 residents, and feels more like a village than a municipality seat. You can easily walk the town and enjoy it’s picturesque views. Vipava was so small, in fact, that I didn’t see another tourist in town during my time walking the city.
After a quick lunch, I met the guys from Winestronaut to set off touring the wine valley.
The first thing that impressed me about the Winestronaut team was their enthusiasm. Their passion seeped through as they excitedly told us about the history of the area and why it is such an ideal place for growing the grapes used in the winemaking process.
During our short drive to the first wine cellar, we learned that Vipava is the oldest winemaking region in all of Slovenia and actually dates back to Roman times. Apparently, nearly every house in the region has its own wine cellar.
We also learned that Vipava is at the same latitude as many world-famous wine making regions, including France’s Bourdeaux and America’s Napa Valley. This fact, combined with the unique climate of Slovenia, helps wineries create some of the best wines in all of Europe.
when we arrived at our first cellar, we met the friendly owner, who seated us at a large table and began instructing us on the unique qualities of his wines. he was also nice enough to pair our samples with a charcuterie platter.
We learned that his business is multi-generational. In fact, his mother was in the kitchen preparing the snacks we were enjoying, and his young son was helping deliver dishes to the table. we were able to really feel what a family establishment it was.
We learned that Vipava is better suited for growing grapes for white wine, which makes up 65% of their production, and that each grape is handpicked- there are no machines.
We tried several varieties of both red and white, and I did have to agree that the white wines were my favorite, although I also enjoyed the reds. We also tried an interesting, almost orange-colored variety.
Although I enjoyed it, as it reminded me of the wines I tried during my wine tour of Budapest, I still prefer the whites the region is famous for.
Many of us chose to buy several bottles to take home before we set off to the second winery.
Along the way, we asked our tour guide how the tour company decided which specific businesses to work with. He explained that they only work with vineyard owners that they know are as passionate about making the wines as Winestronaut is about sharing them with us.
At our next stop, we met another enthusiastic owner who gave us a short tour of his property before leading us down into the cellars, where we would taste wines directly from the casks they were aged in. He had also provided us with local meats and cheeses to accompany the tasting.
Again, he poured generous samples as he explained the production process. It was interesting to see how different the wines tasted from the first vineyard, even though they’re both from the same region.
We enjoyed not only the wine, but also the presentation, so much so that several of us purchased wines to take home with us.
After a quick ride back into town, the guides from Winestronaut returned me to the town square for a much needed nap after all the wine and snacks we had sampled.
Where to eat in Vipava
Other than the wine tour, the other highlight of Vipava was my amazing dinner at Gostilna Podfarovz.
Not only was this the best meal I had in Vipava (maybe you noticed I didn’t mention the name of where I had lunch), but it was also one of the best meals I had during my entire stay in Slovenia.
The restaurant has no set menu- instead they simply tell you what’s available that evening. This night their menu included homemade soups, pasta, fish and steaks.
I’m not joking when I say I would return to Vipava just to eat here again. The meal was amazing, the wines the friendly staff chose to accompany each dish were spot on, and I even ended up sharing a bottle with the friendly owner, whose passion for food and service was contagious.
Reservations are suggested, especially in high season, as it’s a small restaurant with only a few seats. In fact, when I had tried to get in earlier for lunch, I was unable to.
The owner told me he has a second restaurant in town, and I’d like to try it next time I’m in town.
Overall, for such a small town, I really enjoyed my time in Vipava. I would gladly return to spend more time visiting wineries and hopefully crack open another bottle or two with the restaurants’ owners.
What part of Vipava looked best to you? Would you like to visit for yourself? Let me know in the comments section below!
There are multiple daily buses to Vipava from Ljubljana, but I was not able to find a site in English. Have your hotel or guesthouse check times for you, or visit the central bus terminal for the updated schedule.
To book your own tour with Winestronaut, visit their site by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Winestronaut for inviting me as their guest on this tour. All opinions remain my own, as always.