Duration: 6 days/nights
Price: $2250 USD
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Vipava vineyards

 

This six day tour highlights the food, wine and artisans from Slovenia’s western wine growing regions of Brda, Karst and Vipava Valley. It also focuses on the many gastronomic delights of Croatia’s Istria region and includes the beautiful Venetian seaside town of Rovinj. You could fly in/out of Venice and add time in Venice after this tour finishes (or perhaps beforehand).

This is nearly all inclusive and features fantastic restaurants and culinary experiences alongside shockingly-great wine. If you are considering a trip in 2016, an early-to-mid September tour would be a perfect time to visit and I am available during this time (as of now).

 

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

      • Enjoy the finest sparkling wines of the region and three nights  at a converted 13th century chateau belonging to a wine maker’s family

      • Spend a day in Istria’s interior, sampling Teran and Malvazija wines, and enjoying hill top towns like Hum and Groznjan

      • Indulge in more than a dozen gourmet goat cheeses, plus olive oils and wines in Croatia’s Istria region

  • 15 September – 21 September, 2015 

  • $2250

    6 dinners (wine included), 4 lunches, 6 nights lodging at private winery in Brda and apartment in Rovinj’s old town, 2 olive oil tastings, 5 wine tastings, transport, private guide, transfer from Venice airport and transfer to Trieste train station.

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Goriska Brda’s, Slovenia’s most beautiful wine region

Overnight: Brda, Slovenia

I will pick you up upon arrival at Venice airport. We will drive approximately 1.5 hrs to get to Slovenia’s premier wine region of Goriska Brda (otherwise known as ‘Brda’ to locals). Your home for next 3 nights will be a a chateau built by the counts of Gorizia in the 13th century. It’s now the home to Bjana Winery, 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) and then taste 3 different sparklings. Then get your appetite ready for a gourmet 5-course ‘slow-food’ dinner at Kabaj Morel winery. Each dish is served one of our hosts’ wines. The variety of culinary traditions (Slovene, Friulian, Habsburg) have intertwined on this strip of land, giving Brda cuisine its special touch.

Day 2: Taste your way through Brda and Italy’s Collio

Overnight: Brda, Slovenia

Awake to a breakfast out on the patio overlooking vineyard and hill towns. Then we’ll start on our tasting of Brda specialties in many of the various towns and villages. First a trip to cellars located in Visnajvic, the birthplace of Rebula wine, the quintessential wine of this region. Of the 2000 hectares of vineyards here in Brda, 25% are Rebula.  Erzetič winery works with amphora to produce a line of orange wines. We’ll taste these unique wines as well as wines made in a more traditional manner. Brda is the northern most point in Europe where olive trees grow and we’ll visit a local olive oil producer for tasting of oils. Lunch in the walled medieval hill town of Smartno. After lunch, take a stroll through the oldest olive tree plantation and then up to a viewpoint tower to take in picturesque panoramas of Brda.

Later in the afternoon we will hop over the border into Italy, where the region is known as ‘Collio’. We will taste prosciutto crudo, smoked in cherry wood and laurel before visiting a farm to sample freshly made ricotta and caciotta cheese flavored with wild herbs and flowers. Dinner in Collio.

Day 3:  Italian castles, Karst hill towns and Vipava wines.

Overnight: Brda, Slovenia

After another great breakfast with a view, we’ll sneak back into Italy and head down the Adriatic coast about 45 minutes to the Miramare Castle. This seaside castle  was built in the second half of the 19th century by the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg dynasty. We’ll take a look inside and stroll around its manicured gardens along the Gulf of Trieste.

Then we will head back into Slovenia for a little lunch in the Karst region and take in the medieval hill town built from stone called Stanjel. Cross over into the adjacent valley of Vipava to meet with my friend Matjaz whose Tilia Winery specializes in Pinot Noir and Gris.  Dinner at Majerija House. Fresh herbs and local ingredients create simple traditional cuisine with a contemporary touch served up in a rustic house tucked away in a tiny Vipava village.

Day 4: Experience wines and hill towns of Croatia’s Istria region

Overnight: Rovinj, Croatia

Morning visit in Hrastovlje village in Slovenia to see a 12th century church covered with wall to wall colored frescoes. As we enter into Croatia we will meet Dimitri, a young Frenchmen whose Croatian heritage brought him to start Piquentum Winery. Tasting of his Istrian Teran and classic white Malvasia. Truffle themed lunch at Mondo Konoba on the top of Motovun, Istria’s most famous hill town. Time to enjoy browsing Motovun afterwards. I could also arrange a truffle hunt using dogs with a local woman I know in this area. A late afternoon stop at artists’ hill town of Groznjan. Later afternoon to browse the charming hill-town of Groznjan, packed with artisan shops, art galleries and views down onto the Mirna Valley. Arrival into Croatia’s most charming seaside town of Rovinj. After check into our lodging, the two of you can enjoy a romantic 5-course dinner with a sunset view at Rovinj’s top restaurant – Monte.

Day 5: Relax, Detox and Chill out!

Overnight: Rovinj, Croatia

The only thing on today’s agenda is to relax and enjoy Rovinj. Sea temps at this time of the year should be really good for swimming. There are numerous alleys, side streets and tiny house and museums to investigate in the old town core. Outdoor market is good to visit for local produce, truffle oils, spices and other goodies. By late afternoon we will visit Meneghetti. This beautiful estate is surrounded by the Mediterranean macchia, olive-groves and wine-yardst. We’ll enjoy tastings of olive oils and wines before moving on to a place nearby for dinner that serves up lamb and veal ‘ispod peke’ (cooked under a metal lid covered in embers).

Day 6: Gourmet goat cheeses and all around food bonanza !

Overnight: Rovinj, Croatia

Morning visit to Pula, Istria’s largest city that is loaded with rich history spanning over two millennia. Sights include a visit to Pula Arena, the largest Roman amphitheatre outside of Italy, and temples dating from second century AD. Then it’s time for the tour’s magnum opus – a very special afternoon lunch at a goat farm in a small hamlet off the beaten track. Here we will indulge in gourmet cheeses – both semihard cheeses and fresh cheeses – nearly 20 different kinds! This feast also includes stew, home cooked soup with specialty sausages and local wines. There’s also baked quince, freshly baked bread hot out of the oven and various dairy products too. No one will go away hungry!

We can meander a bit in the medieval town of Bale on the way back, perhaps stop for a drink in the town’s cozy jazz bar. A not-so-gigantic dinner back in Rovinj to say farewell to this tour.

Day 7: Tour Ends

The following morning I will drive you back to Italy so you can catch a train from Trieste to Venice. If you have some extra time, we can squeeze in a visit to Slovenia’s fine, pocket-sized Venetian town of Piran.