An old proverb says that “unity builds a house”. Numerous vinegrowing families in the Brda wine region of Slovenia were certainly aware of that when they put together their work efforts, energy and knowledge in 1957 to establish Klet Brda wine cooperative, which is still operational nowadays and carries the glory of Goriška Brda vineyards across the globe given that a large portion of the wines from Klet Brda gets exported outside Slovenia.
In Brda, winemaking has been a part of daily life for the local population since the time of the ancient Romans. Today, the tradition lives on, but in a completely different way. Going to the nearby villages located on the picturesque hills reveals a completely different pace of life: without the usual speed, hurry, and stress that prevail in big cities. Local families in Brda still cultivate their small vineyards, orchards and olive groves in the backyard. Life in Brda takes place with complete devotion to the countryside and land where distinct wines are made.
Each family in Brda region cultivates around two to three hectares of vineyards, and in these vineyards, both modern and traditional, nature and human influence have found the perfect measure of mutual coexistence.
It is truly impressive to see with how much love and respect for nature the local population in Brda produces wine. Even in situation when laws adopted on the government level do not clearly outline viticultural practices to respect nature. Then, they unanimously adopted their own rules of sustainable viticulture by putting on paper everything they had learnt from their fathers and grandfathers. In the corner of the vineyard, several beehives are teeming with activity. The bees in the vineyard are extremely important for pollinating the vine, and the vine flowers provide nectar to the bees, essential for honey production. But, any careless action or untimely spraying of the vineyards could destroy that community of bees, so locals pay particular attention not to allow this to happen. In Brda, the attitude towards nature in all its forms has been brought to the maximum level. For that reason, deer, foxes and other wild animals are frequent guests in the vineyards.
Vineyards are traditionally planted on steep hilly terrains, on distinct terraces which, in addition to their role as part of wine’s terroir which shapes quality of the final product in the glass, also attract numerous tourists to visit the region. Every local is proud to talk about the mineral soil called “opoka” which contributes to wine’s authentic note of minerality.
One can hardly find better refreshment than the breeze of the alpine wind blowing all day long through rows of vineyards on the sloping terraces, otherwise fully exposed to the heat of the Mediterranean sunshine. The breeze brings immediate relief to sweaty workers who care about each grape bunch on the vine. When the season of vineyard work starts, the whole region springs to life. Over the terraces and rows of vineyards, one can hear the echo of excited laughter and murmur of the workers. Sometimes a traditional folk song can be heard as well. And when the joint work is over, there will be time for another glass of wine and a barbecue.
Every guest who visits Brda will be warmly welcomed with a glass of Rebula. It is a grape variety that found its best expression on the terraced slopes of Goriška Brda. In this wine, the sun of the Mediterranean and the freshness of the Alps are united in the best way. Just like the locals who have been living there for centuries and taking care of their vineyards.
Text Tomislav Ivanović