Slovenian vineyards are located in the heart of the European vineyard area and cover over 15,000 hectares. Slovenian wine-growing regions share a reputation as areas of ideal locations along with places such as Burgundy and Bordeaux in France. The combination of climate and soil in Slovenia provides great diversity of wines, which are classified among the best in the world.
In 2015, Slovenian winegrowers exported over 5 million liters of wine, mostly mid- and high-range, while they imported almost three times as much (14 million liters). On average, Germany, the USA, Croatia, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina and, recently, the Czech Republic have been buying the most wine. Slovenia has approximately 30,000 registered winegrowers who make 80 to 90 million liters of wine per year. Approximately 65 percent are white wines and 35 percent red.
Klet Brda exports most wine to the U.K.
The largest concentration of established winegrowers are located in the Goriška Brda wine region in the westernmost part of Slovenia, bordering the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The Movia, Marjan Simčič, Edi Simčič, Kabaj, Ščurek and Klet Brda wineries are positioned there. The latter is also the largest exporter of Slovenian wine and, according to official data, the winery with the largest income among all Slovenian wineries.
“We have been doing several special fillings exclusively for the British market – for distributors Berkman Wine Cellars and for Majestic Wine, and also through Slovenian distributor Gašper Čarman. The British want their own ‘blends’ , which they cannot get anywhere else in the world,” explained Darinko Ribolica, oenologist from Klet Brda.
Klet Brda exported around 150,000 bottles to the United Kingdom, and they plan even larger numbers for the upcoming year. “We have successfully started to export the Quercus line, Grey and White Pinot, and now we have almost made a breakthrough with Rebula and Sauvignon. We are present in pubs and also in stores. We are thrilled about the success; if you succeed in the British market, where success is the hardest to achieve, this means you can succeed anywhere in the world. The quality must be immaculate, and the prices – let us say – normal.” In the United Kingdom, people who have tried Slovenian wines and discovered the good quality and appropriate price are buying them. “First, you must convince the people in the price range that is available to the wider population,” believes Ribolica.
Klet Brda produce 6 to 8 million liters of wine per year, and it exports over 45 percent of it. Currently, it exports the most, over 1 million bottles per year, to the USA. China is in second place, followed by neighbouring Italy, and the United Kingdom is fourth, and presents the greatest challenge.
Wine must amaze the distributor within an instant
The Verus winery in the Štajerska Slovenia region exports mostly Sauvignon, Grey Pinot and Rhine Riesling to the United Kingdom, but it also includes the local speciality Šipon. Rajko Žličar, one of the three owners of the Verus winery, says that they offer to the British what Štajerska has: fine aromas, fruitiness and variety.
He gives the lion’s share of credit for this success on the British market to a good distributor who covers most of the British hospitality industry.
“We are regularly present at the largest European fairs in London, Verona and in Düsseldorf. It is important to be at the right place at the right time, since every now and then our distributors decide to change their offer. And the distributor must be amazed by the wine in that instant. The ratio between the quality and the price must also be favorable,” explains Žličar, whose winery fills around 130,000 bottles per year, and exports almost 80 percent. The United Kingdom is the fourth-most important global market for the Verus winery.
The diverse wine map of Slovenia
Slovenia’s winemaking area has three regions and nine districts. Due to differences in locations, the climate and approaches to winemaking, each region has its own selection of varieties. In addition to the internationally acclaimed varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Blue Pinot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, they also offer indigenous or domesticated local types, such as Rebula, Istrian Malvasia, Blaufränkisch, Sauvignonasse, Zelen, Vitovska and others.