Duration: 11 days/nights
Price: $4100 USD
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Wines and Culinary Traditions Tour: Budapest to Slovenia

Experience, taste and discover the wine and culinary traditions from Budapest Hungary to Slovenia. We invite you to join us on a fabulous journey which we are organizing with Taste Hungary, our trusted partner in Budapest. This is 11-day small-group tour starts in Hungary (we’ll spend time in Budapest, Eger, and Tokaj), and then heads to Slovenia. Along the way we will experience a variety of terroirs, taste dozens of different wines (many of which are not available in the US), experience an array of flavors, and meet the hospitable and passionate people who make all of this happen.

In Hungary, the culinary culture has many layers to discover—from the hearty home-cooking in the countryside and the Jewish kitchen (which has contributed so much to the flavor of the country’s cuisine), to the decadent baking traditions, and more recently, the contemporary Hungarian restaurants which are spicing up the dining scene in Budapest. There’s definitely lots more to Hungarian cuisine than paprika (though we will also taste plenty of dishes which rely on this quintessential Hungarian spice), and the excellent hand-crafted wines are still under-appreciated outside of the country.

We’ll spend a few days in Tokaj, where we will meet winemakers, tour their labyrinth-like cellars, and taste their wines—both sweet and dry. Sample dry furmints (the region’s signature grape), hárslevelű (another indigenous varietal), and aszú, the sweet wine for which the region is most famous. It’s an exceedingly special wine with a long-lingering finish and the potential to age for decades, even centuries.

In Slovenia, another under-the-radar region, we will visit several regions and experience some fabulous home-cooking, local products, wines and brandies. We’ll try unique whites such as Zelen, Pinela and Rebula in the beautiful Goriska Brda and Vipava Valley regions and sample the quintessential Slovenian red wine, Teran, in the Karst region. We’ll explore the charming capital city with a foodie and discover what and where the locals eat. We invite you to join us on this intimate travel experience, which we hope will inspire you to delve even deeper into this fascinating region filled with thousand-year-old traditions, delicious food and wine, scenic vistas and charming towns.

This tour is more than just a fabulous collection of wine tastings and dining on delicious local culinary delights. Each day  presents a special opportunity for guests to sit down, talk with and learn from a myriad of friendly local producers, wine makers and chefs in their cellars, houses, kitchens and vineyards.

Tour starts in Budapest, Hungary and ends at Ljubljana, Slovenia.

 

    • • Savor five courses of regional specialties over lunch in Goriska Brda, Slovenia’s premier wine region

      • Get a taste of the the Budapest’s Jewish culture with a visit to the Great Synagogue, home-cooked Hungarian-Jewish dinner and a culinary walking tour of the city’s Jewish quarter

      • Enjoy an evening of sparkling wine tastings and dinner at a converted 13th century chateau

      • Discover the secrets of barrel-making and bacon roasting as you enjoy wine from the famous Tokaj region

      • Spend a day with a local vintner as he guides you around the wine cellars and wine makers of the Vipava Valley

      • Soak in the traditions of family recipes, prosciutto tasting, unique orange wines and local Teran wines at rustic cellar in the Karst region

      • Experience Romani cuisine and culture with live Gypsy music

      • Visit to Blue Danube wineries: BaticKabajBott Pince and Tokaji Nobilis

       

  • Upon Request for groups of 4 or more people. Please contact us for scheduling availability

  • $4100 per person (based on double occupancy)

    11 dinners (wine included), 8 lunches, 11 nights lodging at B&B and boutique hotels (en-suite), cheese tasings, olive oil tastings, 10 wine tastings, transport, private guide, transfers to/from airports (BUD and LJU).

Itinerary

Day 1: Introduction to Budapest and Contemporary Hungarian Cuisine

Overnight: Budapest, Hungary

Transfer from airport. Meet in the hotel lobby to get to know each other over coffee. Carolyn and Gábor from Taste Hungary will be here to greet you. Danube Sightseeing Cruise. During the cruise we will toast to the beginning of our trip with a few types of Hungarian sparkling wine. Welcome dinner (with wine pairings) at Borkonyha, a restaurant which specializes in contemporary Hungarian cuisine.

Day 2: Market Hall, Coffeehouse culture and Jewish Cooking

Overnight: Budapest, Hungary 

After breakfast a tour the Central Market Hall. At the market we will taste the following: Unicum (a traditional Hungarian bitter, herbal liquor), lángos (fry bread topped with sour cream and cheese), charcuterie and cracklings, and artisan cheese and körözött. Walk around the neighborhood and visit some specialty shops, including an artisan chocolatier and a “chimney cake” shop before visiting Central Kávéház—one of the few remaining traditional coffee houses, which has now been gorgeously restored—for coffee and cakes. At leisure time in the afternoon. Home-cooked Hungarian-Jewish dinner at a Jewish home. The hostess is the wife of a rabbi, as well as a cookbook author.

Day 3: Jewish Quarter, Baking and desserts, Traditional cooking

Overnight: Budapest, Hungary 

Meet in the lobby to depart for a cultural and culinary walking tour of the nearby Jewish quarter. The walk will include visiting the Great Synagogue (the second largest in the world), seeing the other two synagogues in the neighborhood, walking along Kazincy utca (a street lined with tiny restaurants and bars), seeing Gozsdu udvar (a complex of buildings connected to each other by six courtyards), and visiting a local design shop. Tour the Great Synagogue, which is the largest in the world followed by lunch at Kádár Étkezde, a Jewish-style lunch room. Late afternoon baking demonstration at Auguszt Cukrászda, Budapest’s finest family-run patisserie. We will learn how to make Dobos torta and pogácsa (with volunteer participation!). Dinner at Kéhli, a traditional Hungarian restaurant located in the Óbuda neighborhood, accompanied by Gypsy music.

Day 4: Eger and Tokaj Wine Regions

Overnight: Tokaj, Hungary

Depart Budapest for Eger and Tokaj and arrive in Egerszalok at the Thummerer Winery, one of the region’s largest family-run wineries. We will begin with some hand-on group cooking at the winery, using their brick oven. At some point we will leave the kitchen to take a tour of the underground wine cellars and the winery. We will enjoy the lunch that we  prepared together, along with a tasting of Thummerer’s wines. Visit the center of the historic town of Eger for a bit of sightseeing. Arrive in Tokaj, check into the Degenfeld Hotel, enjoy dinner at hotel and get our first taste of wines from Tokaj.

Day 5:  Barrel-making / Traditional Cuisine / Vinegar / Gulyás / Bacon Roasting

Overnight: Tokaj, Hungary

Visit the Oremus Winery, which has one of the most amazing cellar systems in the region, dug deep into the rhyolite tuff, formed from volcanic ash. We will taste a range of Oremus’ wines, which are among the best in the region. Head to Erdöbenye, a lovely village which has a long tradition of cooperage. Visit a cooper in his workshop and have a demonstration of handmade traditional Hungarian oak barrels (the oak comes from the nearby Zemplén forests). Visit the Hudácsko family winery. Here we will feast on a home-cooked lunch accompanied by the family’s wines. Visit a vinegar manufacturer which makes vinegar from the local wines. Dinner will be we will prepare a traditional beef goulash (and a chicken version) cooked over a fire. While the gulyás cooks, we can try our hands at a “bacon roasting” (szalonnasütés) — a favorite outdoor activity in Hungary.

Day 6: Roma Cooking, Budapest Castle and Sightseeing.

Overnight: Budapest, Hungary

Depart for Budapest. Home cooked lunch made by a Roma lady where we will learn about Romani cuisine and culture. There will be live Gypsy music, and a demonstration on preparing Bodag, Romani bread. Spend the rest of the day on your own exploring Budapest or join one of these options: Budapest by bike (burn some energy while exploring Budapest on two wheels) or explore a few of the “ruin pubs” in the nearby 7th district. The quirky ruin pubs, a Budapest phenomenon, are a an essential part of the city’s nightlife! Meet at the hotel and have a guided tour of the Castle district of Buda. Afterwards we’ll have dinner at a restaurant in the castle.

Day 7: Introduction to Slovenia: Prekmurje treats and charming capital of Ljubljana

Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Transfer from Hungary to Slovenia’s eastern most region known as Prekmurje. Lunch in private restaurant situated in low rolling vineyards. Specialities here are a variety of cold cuts, veggies, delicious pumpkin seed oils, local wines and innovate chocolate truffles. After lunch a stop winery’s shop for homemade marmalades and other specialties from the region. Drive to Slovenia’s tiny capital of Ljubljana. A chance to explore the walking tour of the charming old town core followed by a foodie walking tour by our friend Iva, a life-long local. As she likes to say, food tells stories and food is made by people. We will stop and taste at independent, locally owned and non-touristy eateries of Ljubljana downtown and converse with owners, barristas and chefs about what makes them do what they do. From lip-smacking comfort food to high-end hidden gems, Ljubljana has it all, and it’s yours to discover. Overnight in old town.

Day 8: Savor Karst: hill towns, castles, Teran wines and more

Overnight: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Morning visit to Slovenia’s Karst region and tour of Stanjel hill town to see its lovely stone houses, pretty gardens with views over the countryside and art gallery. Lunch served in a the cellars of Renčel winery, located in a small village. Renčel is one of only a few Slovenian winemakers who produces orange wines. Enjoy his orange plus many variations of the traditional Teran Karst wine, plus some other less-typical wines for this region. Our chef for this meal hails from Ruj restaurant, one of the country’s most renowned establishments. On the way back to Ljubljana we will visit the dramatically located Predjama castle, tucked against a limestone cliff and a honeycomb of caves. Leisure time in Ljubljana during the early evening before we meet again with our local resident foodie for a cooking class. Participate in making your own dinner from the fresh ingredients that come local farms and markets and learning some secrets of the Slovenian kitchen.

Day 9: White wines of Vipava Valley by day, five-course dinner and wines of Brda by night

Overnight: Brda, Slovenia

We depart the city for a day in wine regions of Vipava and Brda. First up is a one of a kind opportunity to sit down and talk shop, technique and business with Matjaz, owner of Tilia Wines. We’ll travel around the Vipava Valley, tasting native varietals Zelen and Pinela along with other whites and a few reds including Barbera and Merlot. We’ll also learn about the history of winemaking in this valley and visit some small villages and hilltop churches. All in all, we’ll have tastings at Tilia and two different wineries. Then it is off to Slovenia’s most beautiful wine region of Goriska Brda – draped in vineyards, rolling hills, orchards, olive groves and small winding country roads. A very special five-course ‘slow-food’ dinner paired with wines at Kabaj Morel winery. The variety of culinary traditions (Slovene, Friulian, Venetian, Habsburg) have intertwined on this strip of land, giving Brda cuisine its special touch. Overnight at Kabaj’s guesthouse.

Day 10: Flavors of Goriska Brda

Overnight: Brda, Slovenia

Morning to enjoy a scenic walk through villages and vineyards of Brda. Visits to olive oil producers and lavender makers from Brda. Wine tasting with small plates of food for a light lunch in Collio region of Italy, just a few kilometers from Brda. Of the 2000 hectares of vineyards here in Brda (and Collio), 25% are Rebula. After lunch, we visit the tiny medieval hill town of Smartno and their local house of culture and artisans. After enjoying panoramas over this beautiful countryside at a viewpoint tower we’ll take a walk through the oldest olive tree plantation. This is the northern most point in Europe where olives grow. Dinner will be at Bjana Winery in a chateau built by the counts of Gorizia in the 13th century. It’s now the home to Bjana, one of the finest sparkling wine producers in Slovenia. We’ll tour the wine maker’s cellar, learn about the traditional method of sparkling wine (where secondary fermentation takes place in bottles), taste four sparklings and enjoy his wife’s delicious home cooked meal.

Day 11: Food and spirits from Slovenia’s mountains

Overnight: Radovljica, Slovenia

A scenic drive takes us through the Julian Alps and into Slovenia’s Gorenjska region. Guests will be treated to a stunning view of the area at a 1000 year old castle that overlooks Lake Bled and the mountains. A very special home made lunch awaits us at a local farmhouse. The owner makes her own cheeses, dried meats, Slovenian breads and a walnut cake called potica. Wash it down with herbal & fruit liqueurs, apple cider and the farm’s own craft beer. Late afternoon arrival in the small medieval town of Radovljica where one family’s tradition of decorative gingerbread making has existed for five generations. A farewell dinner of hearty Gorenjska fare (pumpkin soup, stuffed sausages, traditional potato dumplings called zlikrofi) with plenty of strong drinks for all.

Day 12: END OF TOUR

transfer to airport OR add-on Istrian three-day extension and discover Croatia’s magical foodie region on the Adriatic. 

  • Istria is the gourmet lover’s paradise. This small region at the north Adriatic offers a Tuscan in miniature of hill towns, delicious truffles, wines and specialty foods plus beautiful coastal towns built by the Venetian and Roman cultures that date back 2000 years. We’ll meet with a family running Slow Food for Slovenia’s Istria region, hang out with friendly locals to visit the towns of Rovinj and Pula, dine at rustic eateries in hidden villages, sample the region’s famous Malvasia wines and go bonkers with delicious goat cheeses and other surprises at a local farm.
  • Day One: Visit to Mediterranean herbal garden, specially prepared lunch with sampling of home made cheese, marmalades and olive oil. Visit to beautiful seaside town of Piran. Dinner at one of Croatia’s best countryside restaurants.

    Day Two: Visits to two iconic Istrian hill towns – Groznjan and Motovun. Tastings and visits to  Piquentum and Coronica wineries, producing memorable Malvasia (white) and Teran (red).

    Day Three: Tour of the coastal towns of Rovinj and Pula. Wedged in-between is a taste bud extravaganza lunch at an off-the-grid farm specializing in goat cheeses.

  • $900 per person (based on double occupancy)
  • 3 nights lodging, all meals, 3 wine tastings, transport and guide