The Stone Village with Many Wine Cellars
Amidst vineyards, on the ridge separating Vipava Valley and Branica Valley, lies on of the most scenic villages in the region, offering lofty views. The stone village of Goče, an architectural gem, is a monument of Slovenian cultural heritage. It is a living history museum dedicated to the viticulture of this area.
The earliest written accounts from the 14th century indicate that the village has been around since the Middle Ages. Its heyday started in the mid-18th century when Goče was switched from the Rihemberk manorial estate to the Vipava manorial estate. It was a time of economic progress and Europe was witnessing a production and trade boom, with the times also looking up for wine production. Situated on an ideal spot amidst fertile winegrowing hills, the village of Goče developed into a bustling wine hub, touted near and far for its superb wine grapes and premium quality wine.
Goče is a dense settlement and a nice example of typical rural architecture in the region of Gorica. The houses feature thick walls made of stone, the roofs are covered with pantiles and occasionally stone roof slates. The wealthier houses have closed courtyards (borjač) which one enters through masterfully carved stone portals (kalona). The village lanes are truly special. Other than two main streets, all lanes are extremely narrow and commonly don't get wider than one metre. Another distinct feature is the fascinating footprint of the village that you can make out if you scale the hill with the Church of St Mary of the Snows over the village. The houses are stringed along two main streets that cross each other in the shape of St Andrew's cross (X shape) as a peculiar homage to the village patron St Andrew. The Church of St Andrew was built in the 17th century and boasts an outstanding stone portal. Walking from the church toward the graveyard, one can admire four stone shrines with reliefs depicting scenes from the Stations of the Cross, and a beautiful entry to the graveyard with the graveyard chapel.
Precious wine cellars
The most amazing treasure of Goče (architecturally and otherwise) however lies beneath your feet. Hidden before the sun and wind, the wine cellars – carefully built from the local stone and featuring vaulted ceilings – store the village’s precious liquid. The sheer number of the wine cellars is amazing; during the heyday, each winemaker operated two, three or more cellars!
The story goes that at the close of the 19th century Goče had more wine cellars than residential buildings.
Around sixty cellars survived until today, some of them ancient and as yet unilluminated by electric light. The wine is stored in wooden barrels and left to age almost identically to centuries ago. Wine tastings in such a setting make for a remarkable experience that is hard to put into words.
The homestead Cejkotova domačija
Nestled behind nine narrow lanes and nine courtyards, a beautifully restored homestead greets visitors who happen to find it on their stroll through the picturesque Goče. The homestead is like something from a fairytale: an ancient well in the courtyard, a smoke kitchen on the ground floor, and a delicious aroma of home-made delicacies lingering in the dining area, creating a wholesome hospitable feeling. The owner will gladly open up the doors of the oldest cellar and invite you in for a candle-lit wine tasting. The stories from the days of yore are heart-warming.