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February 2021

Local Food and Wine Habits

The best waypost for the exploration of heavenly flavours

A popular traveller's adage says we should always do as the locals do when visiting foreign lands. This especially goes for tasting, one of the most pleasurable ways of experiencing any country. Local produce, characteristic dishes and food culture are a major part of identity of any place, big or small, abundant or frugal in terms of cuisine. The Vipava Valley and frontier Goriška are among the lands of great culinary-wine plenty. Particular foodie luxury is here experienced when one joins the locals, following along with their own food and wine habits.

Feasting and tasting in the wine cellars

The Vipava Valley wine cellars are hallowed spaces. Made of stone, vaulted, usually subterranean, they provide perfect conditions for storing wine throughout the seasons. The winemakers carefully maintain them, alongside tending to their wines which mature in the barrels, waiting for the perfect moment mastery decides to pour them into bottles. Winemaking secrets are passed between generations, along with a tradition of socializing in the cellars, tasting the noble produce of the land. In the local villages, wine cellars are often centres of cultural happenings, the settings of family celebrations and unique winemaking classrooms. From this tradition sprang contemporary wine tastings, featuring a cellar visit and sampling of wines straight from the barrel, a legacy carefully kept for future generations. Naturally, focus is still on the fundamental purpose of the wine cellars, and so the valley's winemakers prefer to host individuals and small groups across the year. Once or twice yearly, in the frame of special wine and food events titled the Open Cellar Days, the winemakers of the Vipava Valley collectively open their doors, accommodating large groups as well. Both the highly intimate tastings and the major wine events are truly unique experiences.

Traditional snacks with a glass of wine

As a welcoming treat, the start of any proper feast or the indispensible accompaniment to the tasting of wines, the locals will often put their traditional home snacks on the table. Slices of freshly baked home bread and prosciutto from the Vipava Valley or other choice dry meats next to a glass of wine create a fascinating harmony of flavours that caresses the soul. Naturally-dried meats are one of the Vipava Valley's staple culinary traits, and the pride of the local farms. Vegetarians will also find simple, carefully prepared snacks to their liking. In the early 20th century, a great frost in the Vipava Valley and the Goriška devastated most of the olive orchards, but decades later these have been revived to again adorn the proverbially paradise valley. Boutique-production olive oils and home olives have thus been restored as essential ingredients of traditional bites and cold appetizers. Would you like to see how the master chefs preserve and inventively interpret local tradition? In the valley's restaurants offering haute cuisine, you can sample local flavours with a heavenly spin.

Seasonal menus from local ingredients

In the Vipava Valley and the Goriška region, traditional food culture has remained present to this day. Even with decades of globalization and consumerism, introducing food from all corners of the world to our doorsteps and blurring the differences between the seasons, the Vipava Valley folks continue serving characteristic old dishes prepared from locally grown ingredients. A pillar of local cuisine is its seasonal character, serving the freshness and wholesomeness of recently picked foods ripening in their natural rhythm. Respect for tradition likewise characterises the gourmet creations of the region's culinary masters, boasting some of the highest recognitions, including celebrated Michelin stars. Sustainably produced local ingredients are a cherished value more than ever, increasingly promoted by the people. Authorities, too, make prudent investments into the preservation of a short supply chain and characteristic local crops. Among other, the Vipava Valley became Slovenia's best practice example of adapting agriculture to climate changes, while recently introducing also the project Tržnica na borjaču (“Marketplace in the Yard”), an online market offering local produce and foods that makes it easier for tourists to shop conveniently.

Seasonal, healthy, delicious. These words offer a concise portrait of the local folks' culinary habits, found on every plate of the Vipava Valley's agritourism farms and local inns and restaurants. Culinary paradise is real! Welcome among its heavenly flavours.