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Unique in the Karst

 

Do you want something unique? Genuine? Natural?

Go for a drive to Loredana and Sebastijan Štemberger in Šepulje in the Karst. At this organic farm with 350 years of tradition, you are in for an adventure you will never forget.

When you pull up into the courtyard of the Štemberger homestead, you will jump back to another century. The typical Karst architecture based on local stone and the plethora of antiques you will notice in the courtyard will make you feel like you are not in for just a typical wine tasting. You will be welcomed by smiling owners Loredana and Sebastijan.

The Štemberger homestead stretches over 56 hectares in the eastern part of the magical Karst. Kras (the Karst) is also the name of a Primorska wine-growing district famous for its red soil, terra rossa. The plateau caught between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, whose peaks may reach almost 3,000 metres, is always exposed to a cold wind, the bora. Days when you will not get blown at in the Karst are scarce. On eight hectares of vineyards, the Šemberger’s cultivate particularly indigenous and local varieties . Most varieties are white varieties of Vitovska, Istrian Malvasia, and Zelén. Karst Teran is king of the red varieties, and is produced from the Refosco variety. You can also find some international varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which, according to Sebastijan Štemberger, are being reduced, as they plan to focus more on local varieties which are unique and different, and may offer the most in the Karst.

The Štembergers are committed to sustainable production, and hold an organic certification. They are interested in not only what is in the glass but also in the integral and sustainable attitude to vine, nature, wine, and people. At Štemberger’s, you will not find any synthetic herbicides and pesticides. Sebastijan prepares spraying products from clay, nettle, and chamomile. Grapes are hand-picked. All wines are fermented with indigenous lees and without supervised fermentation temperature. The fact that they produce only between 25,000 and 30,000 wine bottles annually on eight hectares proves that the strain on vines is low, which enables them to reach a high quality of grapes. All wines mature in wooden barrels or concrete eggs at least some time.

The wines have character, are precise, harmonious, mineral, and lively. They all have great ageing potential. Tasting local white specialities, Vitovska and Istrian Malvasia , is a must. Red wines are not too mature and full of alcohol, but elegant with a moderate body, alcohol, and tannins, and characteristic Karst freshness. They are very fruity with a long aftertaste. The Štembergers have another ace up their sleeves. They are the only ones in Slovenia who produce wine with biological oxidation with which also sherry is made. The Štemberger’s quality is close to their more famous Spanish counterparts.

From the garden to your plate with love

At the farm, they breed pigs and chickens, and cultivate buckwheat and wheat. They have a 250-year-old vine.

The Štembergers will make you feel at home and welcome. In addition to wine, they will gladly serve a collection of home-made specialities. The farm is practically self-sufficient, as they breed pigs and chickens, and have a large vegetable garden and a field with cereals. What is the best thing about this? At Štumberger’s, all these organic products await you on a plate. Superb meat products are made from Krškopolje pigs, a Slovenian indigenous pig breed bred at the farm. Prosciutto is aged for at least two years to mature completely. Meat products are accompanied by cheeses obtained from local Karst farmers. Loredana bakes bread from organic buckwheat and white flour they make themselves. If the bora blows too much, you can warm yourself up with a plate of Karst jota, a sauerkraut, bean and potato stew.

The Karst has a long wine tradition. Wine-growing was brought here by the Romans almost two thousand years ago. The Štembergers are particularly well-aware of tradition and heritage. They are the proud guardians of the oldest vine in western Slovenia, which is over 250 years old. The vine is the Refosco variety, which still rules the Karst, covering three quarters of all vineyards.

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