GORIŠKA BRDA: THE WINE WONDER
Situated on the western Slovenian border, the region of Goriška Brda resembles Tuscany. The hilly landscape, which descends towards the Friulian plain in Italy, is covered with vineyards and orchards, while villages nesting on hills and the distinct architecture also remind of its Italian doppelganger. Geographically, the area is part of the Posočje region, with a high ridge actually separating it from the Soča river and protecting the area from cold winds. This way, the climate is affected by the nearby Adriatic Sea with humid south-western winds, and the abundance of surface water is nicely complemented by ideal conditions, with the landscape truly resembling the garden of Eden. In addition to the developed viticulture, the Goriška Brda area supplies the entire hinterland with the early summer cherries peaches, which are most frequently grown plants, with olive trees also being cultivated in high numbers.
The hills were inhabited during the Roman era, and in the Middle Ages the area was a border between the Austrian provinces and the Venetians, which is why there are many castles and fortifications, including some fortified villages.
The demarcation line designated after World War II left part of the Brda area, which descends into the Friulian plain, on the Italian side. Collio is one of the famous Italian wine regions, with many Slovenians, who are among the best winemakers, having remained on the Italian side of the border. In Yugoslavia, private economic initiatives were not supported by the government, so Goriška Brda, despite the equally good conditions for viticulture as its Italian part, fell backwards in this field, as wine was produced in large quantities without particular focus on the quality, i.e. for mass consumption. However, since the end of the 1980s many private growers have developed production, having achieved great success with their wines on the global scale. Joško Gravner, a Slovenian from Collio, is credited with reviving the almost forgotten, 6000-year-old Georgian technology of wine production in amphoras, and perhaps also for starting the currently increasingly popular trend of producing orange and biodynamic wines.
Biking through the flowering and fertile landscape with wonderful views is in itself a pleasant experience. The tour runs past the best Goriška Brda winemakers, symbolically connecting two parts of the route leading towards Colli with what is a unified area in geographical sense. A short leap into history and visits to some of the scenic spots are added every now and again. Most winegrowers manage their own open-air estates, where the bikers, besides tasting wines, can try some of the homemade delicacies. There is certainly no shortage of treats for lovers of fine wine and hospitality!