The Slovenia Times

A Sip of Wine You Will Never Forget


Forbes Magazine reports that in California wine tourism has been estimated to contribute $2 billion annually to the economy. In France there were 7.5 million tourists in 2009, but it is estimated that 10 million came in 2016 to discover French wines and vineyards. This represents a growth of more than 30 percent and a total of 5.2 billion euros spent. In Slovenia, it is estimated that each euro spent by tourists on visits to winemakers "left" three euros in the tourist destinations budget. So, can Slovenia benefit from wine tourism? No doubt, the potential is enormous.

Wine Growers Compete Creatively for Unique Wines

Robert Gorjak, founder of Belvin Wine School, agrees that Slovenia is benefiting from wine tourism but there is room for much more. "Accommodation and facilities for small conferences, company public events, team buildings at the wineries in wine regions are still in their infancy," explains Gorjak.

Matjaž Lemut, founder and oenologist of the winery Tilia Estate House of Pinots, is one a winemaker who has put Slovenia on the world map for producing this divine drink of the gods. He stresses that Slovenia is remarkable because it has many identities of wine styles and varietals. "The wine growers compete to be as different as possible. This is very nice for consumers, especially for those visiting our country." But as this is an advantage for tourists, it is a risk for the industry when selling outside of the country. "It is harder to make recognisable identity and demands a lot of marketing capital," adds Lemut, described as the most cosmopolitan Slovenian winemaker by The Financial Times.

Charine Tan from Singapore, the co-founder of Exotic Wine Travel, an award-winning platform promoting wine, food, and travel, suggests that Slovenia has potential to create a single, differentiated wine product that helps elevate the rest of the Slovenian wine market to a certain premium price point and quality mark. "Take Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc, and Provence Rosè as examples," says Tan.

When Quality Meets Hospitality

Robert Gorjak, author of the book Slovenia: a Winemaking country, stresses that Slovenian reputation as a wine country is rather non-existent for most consumers, which is neither good nor bad, except for those who have already visited the country. "They return home positively surprised by the quality of our wines."

One of them is Fabine Laine, a lauded expert in travel, wine, and food from France. "Slovenia has much potential and is gaining more and more awareness worldwide. Winemakers are not working only with very well-known grapes, but also indigenous varieties. For example, they really have mastered skin maceration for white wines like Rebula grapes, and they are breaking the ground with varieties such as Zelen, Teran and they are also proposing amazing wines made with Pinot Noir."

In order to push the boundaries of quality in promoting and presenting wine brands, Lemut recommends making regional focus of identity, either in winemaking style or a focus on variety. "It guarantees predictable identity and quality. It makes promotion easier to organize and more effective." It would also be wise to organize different regional associations. Tan adds, "To move forward, it will be interesting to see Slovenia establish several consortia to promote different regions and styles of wine. Look to Italy for reference on that."

However, in Slovenia there are a large number of family estates where you can still meet and talk to a person who is an owner, winemaker and marketer. Lemut stresses the importance of authentic communications with consumers. "The ability to interact with wine lovers and connoisseurs is an important advantage of being a small wine grower. At the Tilia Estate we offer guided tours of our wine cellar, all kinds wine tastings in order to create a real experience. So far, people from over 30 countries who visited us will remember Slovenia as a wine-heaven. Or at least we strive for it."

As Slovenia is promoting itself with the brand "I Feel Slovenia"-expressing a balance between nature and the diligence of Slovenians; wine tourism should also be based on giving the wine a human story. When wine-lovers buy a bottle and pull out the corkscrew, they do not only swirl, sniff, and sip, but also think of the country and people who were responsible for creating the wine. If all this brings a smile, we all win.


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