A Wealth of Traditions
Most of the surviving folk customs from the fertile Vipava Valley are closely connected with wine-making and trading with agricultural products. For centuries Valley life was inextricably linked with the weather; produce was extremely precious and the harvest warranted a celebration. The most extraordinary customs are still alive and well. Folk heritage inspired many interesting traditional events that bring visitors to the Vipava Valley time and again.
Many consider the grape harvest to be the best time of the year. The wine-growers from the Vipava Valley go about the harvest with utmost care, always picking the grapes by hand and only when the ripe berries produce the best juice. This requires many hardworking hands of lively pickers who are excited to spend the time together in the vineyard and enjoy the traditional feast held at the end of a hard day’s work. Lunch, consisting of fresh bread and prosciutto, is eaten in the vineyard, topped off with delicious štruklji once the dirty work is done. No harvest goes by without mouth-watering traditional dishes.
Occasionally, larger farms will accept random visitors to help with the harvest, if so inclined. If you are eager to experience an authentic grape harvest in Vipava, get in touch with a tourist information centre. A festive atmosphere awaits at the largest social and culinary event of the season – the traditional Vipava Grape Harvest.
Information: TIC Vipava, TIC Ajdovščina
St. Martin’s Day
Folk tradition has it that on St. Martin’s Day, i.e. 11 November, must is turned into wine. The wine cellars across Vipava break out in joy when the long awaited day is finally here and the wine is ripe to be tasted. As per St. Martin’s Day custom, the host and hostess make sure to invite all friends and acquaintances who had lent a hand with the grape harvest to their cellar. The table abounds with home-made delicacies and the glasses overflow with new wine. Singing resounds through the villages across the valley – another typical trait of the Vipava region, just like wine.
In early November, the Vipava Valley holds a myriad of Martin’s Day celebrations organized by farms, villages, inns and tourist organizations.
Osmica Open Doors and Open Wine Cellars
The right to an eight-day period in which farmers from the Vipava Valley were allowed to sell wine at their home grew into a custom referred to as osmica by the locals, and dates back to the 18th century. Today, the open-door period can last anywhere from seven to ten days, during which farmers indulge guests with hearty homely meals and wine from their own cellar.
It is very likely that this custom spawned the more recent custom in which farmers invite guests and produce buyers to their cellars and opulently laid tables on other occasions as well. The most popular season for hosting open doors in the Vipava Valley is late autumn, from St. Martin’s Day in mid-November to Christmas. For several years now, the Upper Vipava Valley also has an event which connects all of the open wine cellars, creating a memorable event.
Events Honouring the Local Carter Tradition
Horse-drawn wagons that were the chief means of transport until the last century are still to be seen driving across the Vipava Valley. The legacy of carters transporting wine and produce from the valley to distant cities is still alive, along with the legacy of carters hauling timber from the Trnovo Forest. Traditional carter events are where horse lovers and fans of old customs come to admire festively made up horses recreating traditions of yesteryear. On a fine day, you might even see a horse-drawn cart strutting down a village road.
Attractive carter events:
- Furenga – transporting the mast for the maypole: traditional multi-day festival that demonstrates the cutting down and transport of the maypole from the Trnovo Forest to Nova Gorica. Information: TIC Nova Gorica
- Martin’s furenga is a demonstration of wine transport; it starts in Šempeter, passes through Vrtojba, crosses the border to Italy, where it goes through Štandrež, Sovodnje and Gorica. The demonstration concludes in Šempeter with the blessing of new wine and the mayor’s address. Information
- Horse Blessing Ceremony in Vipava on St. Stephen's Day is a traditional event continuing an ancient custom. This is one of the most noteworthy horse-related events in Slovenia. Information: TIC Vipava