Vipava Valley Cherries
The earliest cherries are ready in the Vipava Valley
Heavily anticipated and adored, the very first fruit of the year is especially precious. Besides grapes, cherries have always been the most distinguishable produce of the Vipava Valley – this paradisiacal region of scrumptious fruit. The first cherries in the valley are ripe in early May and are sweet harbingers that spring is coming to this part of Europe. Red, juicy and sweet – they never fail to elevate the local culinary offering.
Cherries have a long history in the Vipava Valley. Ever since the end of the 19th century and until the Second World War cherries were practically the only fruit farmers produced for the market. The cherries from Vipava were sold to Ljubljana, Trieste, Villach and Klagenfurt, and even as far as Vienna and cities in Bohemia and Bavaria. Of course, they weren’t grown on plantations in those times, but the popularity of this early fruit called for large-scale production in a rather ingenious way. The custom of planting individual cherry trees to form a tree line along vineyards and meadows survived until the present day and makes for a striking backdrop when in full bloom. Today, there are considerably fewer cherry trees in the Valley.
Cherries are a challenging fruit. Hand-picking the delicate fruit has to be done with extra caution and the stems must be left attached. Every little injury to the skin compromises the integrity of the fruit which is notorious for storing poorly. Freshness is therefore paramount when it comes to cherries.
In addition to the ancient Vipavka variety, the Vipava Valley is home to many other cherry varieties, so a fresh harvest is available for almost two months. They are a particular favourite of the locals: raw cherries are a great stand-alone snack, but are also used for many delectable homemade dishes. The star of the show is the cherry strudel. Nifty homemakers use cherries to make a lovely filling for homemade štruklji.
Culinary chefs take it a step further and make exquisite cherry masterpieces. The Vipava Valley is famous for the seasonal offering that incorporates local ingredients, so it's only natural to expect to be served some lovely cherry dishes in the local inns and restaurants. Of course, don't skip the roadside stands dotting the Vipava Valley to buy freshly picked cherries directly from the friendly locals.