Among the Vineyards of Vrhpolje
This traditional hike takes place on the last Sunday of February, taking visitors through vineyards and past the biggest attractions found in Vrhpolje, a village renowned for its grape growing tradition.
Vrhpolje and winemaking go hand in hand. A vine grafting nursery has been operating in the village for over a century, playing an important role in preserving old cultivars and types of grapes. The majority of the grafts cut these days are sent to other countries. It’s not just the grapes themselves, though, as this village is also widely renowned for the ultimate result – its wine.
The hike starts in the center of Vrhpolje, right in front of the firehouse. Visitors go from there through some picturesque vineyards past the village of Duplje, and on to the famous Zemono Manor House, which stands on the top of a hill surrounded by vineyards. The manor house, used by the noble Lanthieri family for their bashes and balls, was used as a site for making wine during grape harvesting season. After leaving the manor house hikers walk through the village of Zemono, continuing on to the foot of the Nanos Plateau, where the ruins of the first castle in the valley can be seen; these days the locals call it Stari Grad, or the “Old Castle”. Turn back towards Vrhpolje at the Bela stream and walk toward the gorge the stream has carved out. Hikers feast their eyes on old mills and forges, as well as the natural pools of Kotel, Sklečka, Korita, Tekc, and Hudičev stolček (Devil’s Seat). Legend has it that the devil threw a boulder into the pool, carving out the popular swimming hole. In the gorge a high wall rises from the streambed, providing over 100 climbing routes of all levels of difficulty. Vipavska Bela is one of the most popular climbing areas in all of Slovenia. Leaving the gorge the trail climbs up to Pšava, from where you can take in a breathtaking view of the whole Vipava Valley and its typical vineyards. There are more ruins along the path, this time of a small Capuchin monastery where wine was made in times past. You pass the church of St. Acacius as you walk through vineyards into the village, and you are likely to see the farmers that produce the region’s best grapes.
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