Fountain near Maribor pouring hemp wine
Fountains pouring not water but rather an alcoholic drink of one kind or another have been popping up around Slovenia, but now one of them has expanded to pour wine made from industrial hemp.
Bogdan Mak, the owner of the Sunny Paradise estate near Maribor, where the Vodole fountain is located, says they are the first in the world to have created hemp wine without grapes.
"This is the first successful attempt of fermenting hemp flowers and producing an alcoholic beverage in this form," Mak told reporters at a recent presentation. Other hemp wines on the market are made using grapes.
The largest challenge in hemp wine production was the fermentation because hemp is strongly antiseptic and destroys most bacteria and fungi. Currently their production is capped at 25,000 bottles per year.
The Sunny Paradise estate is also selling hemp bitters and plans to produce sparkling and non-alcoholic hemp wine in the future.
They are trying to change the attitude of Slovenians towards industrial hemp and to expand to the international market, said Mak, adding that they hope to sell 25,000 bottles of hemp wine in 2024 and to reach a million of total bottles sold in five years.
As the beverage is not produced from grapes it cannot officially be called wine under Slovenian legislation.
The Vodole wine fountain opened three years ago. Similar wine fountains where customers can choose and pour different wines themselves are found across the country, from the village of Marezige overlooking the sea to Radenci in the north-east.
The fountain craze appears to have started after what was arguably Europe's first beer fountain opened in Žalec in the north-east of the country in September 2016.
Last year, a brandy fountain opened in Kostel in the south of the country on the border with Croatia, offering the local firewater rakija.