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Get to know Slovenian wine - Primorska wine region, Slovenian Istria wine district

In this post, I am presenting You the Slovenian Istria wine district, which is a part of the Primorska wine region.


Slovenian Istria/ Istra is the only wine region in Slovenia with direct sea access. Istria region is shared between Slovenia and Croatia, but we shall not speak of the second here ;) The biggest town is Koper, followed by Izola, Piran, and Portorž. Marezige village is the host of the annual Refosco Feast and the one and only Wine fountain.

Istria borders with Italy on the north, to the east Karst (Čačkarija), and to the south the Croatian part of the Istria wine district. Rižana and Dragonja river flow throughout the district.

Climate: considered to be sub-Mediterranean with warm to hot and dry summers, and mild winters. Hazards are strong winds, that could cause damage, by breaking the buds and shoots. There are three different winds that interfere with the climate here. Burja being the strongest is coming from the north and is cold. Jugo is warm and wet, coming from the south. Maestral is a mild summer breeze coming from sea to land. Istria is definitely the warmest of all Slovenian regions, perfect for Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Istria wine district has to sub-districts:

  • One is the coastal sub-district, consisting of vineyards from the highest at 250 m altitude to the lowest at sea level. The temperatures in summer and winter are not extreme.

  • The other is the inland sub-district with the Šavrini Hills. The vineyards here are on well-defined ridges and valleys, reaching up to 400-500 m in altitude. The annual average temperature here is lower by 2 degrees than in the coastal sub-district.

* Rainfall levels are lower in the coastal sub-district, compared to the inland sub-district.

* Problems with precipitation can occur as it is not evenly distributed throughout the season.

Soil: the Istrian bedrock consists of Eocene flysch sediments, with marl-flysch and sandstone in the topsoil. The soils in both sub-districts are similar.

What grows there:

  • Malvazija Istarska is on 30% of all vineyard plantings. Normally planted in the cooler vineyards, so the acidity and the freshness could be preserved (on the first picture).

  • Refosco covers 45% of all vineyard plantings. It is planted in the warmer vineyards. Yields are controlled and the extra time on the vine gives better ripeness and higher sugar levels, which brings the high acidity a bit down (on the second picture).

  • Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys here as it needs perfect conditions to ripen properly (which occurs almost every vintage).

  • Syrah is showing potential in the latest years.

Slovenian Istria in a nutshell:

Source: Slovenia Winemaking country, by Robert Gorjak. Page 194-204.

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