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For passionate wine lovers

 

Follow the wine route filled with beautiful stories to the oldest grapevine in the world

Maribor–Pohorje Tourist Board, Maribor

Follow one of the most fascinating wine routes in Slovenia and hear the unique stories of winemakers from the Štajerska region, guided by an experienced sommelier. The route leads from the centre of Maribor to the nearby vineyard-covered hills, taking you to the oldest grapevine in the world, a large wine cellar beneath the centre of Maribor, and to the vineyards of Svečinske gorice, where the heart-shaped road forms one of the most beautiful and most photographed views in the region. You will also meet some of the best European winemakers, who follow biodynamic farming methods.

old vine
Photo: Domen Grögl, Maribor - Pohorje Tourist Board Archive

The heart of the vineyards

The sommelier will first take you to the source of the wine. To the hills whose sunny sides are covered in vineyards and the cellars hide the magic of winemaking. In Svečinske gorice, visitors are greeted by the wonderful view of the heart created by the bends in the road through the vineyards. This opportunity to take incredible photos of the Svečine grapevine-covered hills with a Polaroid camera pairs excellently with a welcoming glass of semi-dry Chardonnay sparkling wine, while the guide tells you more about the sparkling wines. After the photo session, things get even sweeter with the excellent gibanica cake that brings out the best in the sparkling Chardonnay, while you learn about the Slovenian tradition of this layered cake.

The next stop is a visit to an organic or biodynamic winemaker, where no synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides are used in the vineyards. Visitors can soak up new knowledge and understanding from the winemaker and the sommelier, everything from how to treat grapes on the vines and in the cellar, where is the origin of individual spectres of aromas, and how to select the best wine to bring an event or a meal to the next level. The tour of the cellar ends with a tasting of up to seven different wines with a sommelier explanation of the experience and a spread of local snacks.

heart-shaped road
Photo: Iztok Medja

An underground labyrinth of wine barrels

Under the old city centre of Maribor is a network of underground tunnels, a veritable labyrinth that is the Vinago Cellar, one of the largest and oldest classical wine cellars in Europe. The oldest part was built in 1847 and encompasses almost a mile and a half of tunnels. Together with the new part, the cellar stretches across an area of three football pitches.

After discovering the Maribor tunnels filled with wooden barrels, almost 150 of them, concrete barrels, and bottles from a large wine selection, you will reach the tasting room just in time for a tasting of the Vinago wines. They are known for their fresh and fruity aromas, especially the Chardonnay, the Rosé made from Pinot Noir, and the Sauvignon with a flowery, herbal bouquet. All the wines are matured in stainless steel barrels, which brings out the pleasant, bright aromas, the playful acidity, and the light character of their wines. The wines are accompanied by local dried meat delicacies, starring the bunka from Pohorje, homemade dried salami, and dried meat preserved in tünka. Led by the sommelier, the visitors learn to pay attention to the pairing of wine and food as the combination of the acidity in the wine and the fat in the meat, while the lard creates new flavours that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The final note of the Vinago Cellar experience is the climb into a large concrete barrel, for the final wine tasting – a semi-dry Muscat wine – and sing a song. Even the worst singers sound impressive when their song is amplified by the echo in this spacious barrel.

Vinago wine cellar
Photo: Marko Petrej

The oldest vine in the world

A short walk from the Vinago Cellar through the old city centre brings us to the main attraction of this wine journey, the Old Vine House. There, on the riverfront of the mighty Drava river, also called the Lent, a very special grapevine has been growing for more than 400 years. It is included in the Guinness book of records as the oldest grapevine in the world that still bears fruit. It was planted towards the end of the Middles Ages, and survived bitter battles with the Ottoman Empire army, several fires, the infamous Grape phylloxera infestation that killed the majority of other vines at the end of the 19th century, and even the bombardment of the city by the Allies during World War II, when the house itself was partially destroyed.

Photo: Rok Deželak, EKVisuals Archive

It is of the žametovka or modra kavčina variety, an autochthonous Slovenian grape variety. Its offspring do not only grow in many Slovenian towns, they can be found on almost every continent. They grow in Paris by the wine museum, in the Vatican gardens, at Prague Castle, and by the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

old vine
Photo: Andrej Tarfila

With the help of the guide and a ladder, you can climb up to the canopy of this incredible Old vine, just as its caretaker does. You can take photos and admire this resilient plant from up close. If your timing is right, you can even see its succulent grapes. A guided tour of the exhibition in the Old Vine House presents you with the proof of the vine’s age, and then you can enjoy the tasting of five wine samples. The samples are selected from more than two hundred wines from the Podravje region, according to the visitors’ wishes, and served with a crunchy snack. The crunch comes from the pumpkin crisps and thin double-baked crackers, made from flour and salt, and spiced-up with local roasted pumpkin seeds.

The tour ends with a surprise gift that will keep this wine adventure in your fondest memories. Here’s a hint: those who wish to, can make their own souvenir.

Taste more.

Learn about the story od Slovenian gastronomy. Discover local culinary and wine specialties.

Read more