Recently we talked about doing a wine tour in Slovenia, especially in the wine region of Goriška Brda and a bit on Vipavska Dolina. Today we will talk about doing another wine tour, this time in Italy, and very close to where we stayed last time but now at the other side of the border.
The Collio, that small part of the world in the heart of wine country in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, has me completely infatuated. In Italy you can find more wine regions, more wineries and more wines than those you’d be able to taste in a lifetime. For me this is Paradise on Earth. It will be better to start slowly in a beautiful place with incredible landscapes and amazing wineries, luscious wines and especially, wonderful people.
Going to the Collio, we firstly need to fly to either Marco Polo airport in Venice or to Aeroporto di Trieste – Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in Trieste, but the first one is better served by many airlines. Some low-cost companies go to Trieste as well. From here our best option will be going straight to our accommodations. Since we are going to do wine tourism, I think the best will be to stay inside the wine region. The places mentioned below should work really well for you, though you have many more options in Gorizia or Trieste or other small B&Bs around. Many would require a bit more driving, though. These places are very close from each other, so a great option would be to stay in two or three of them, thus visiting also their cellars and vineyards. We are talking about a wine tour, so the more wineries we visit, the best for our total enjoyment.
For our first two days, we should dedicate them to wineries close to Udine, in the province of the same name. Here we have some of our best local heroes: Mario Zanusso is the leading man in I Clivi. A winery that is best known for its work with the local Friulano variety. They produce three different Friulano wines every year: the let’s say more generic one, San Pietro vineyard, and the two single vineyard wines coming for Brazan and Galea plots. The work Mario does with the Verduzzo is more than outstanding, and this Ribolla Gialla, both fresh and the Pet Nat version, are to write home about them.
Not far from him we will find two amazing guys. Marco Sara is also big on Verduzzo and Friulano. Erba Alta 2016, a special Friulano, is a wine I’m still dreaming about.
Both Mario and Marco work on the fresh side of wine. Neighbor Stefano Novello turns to the macerated side of business. Ronco Severo is the winery he is commanding. His Ribolla and Chardonnay are wines that I enjoyed so much when and after visiting him. He is also producing a Friulano wine, of course, as we are in Friuli. And if you want to taste a special red wine, go for his Merlot. You won’t regret it.
Since we are in Udine, Angoris is worth a visit. Big winery with thousands of bottles per year, but their Schioppettino is an outstanding wine. This is an autochthonous variety, as well as the Refosco dal Pedunculo Rosso, which has a DOC on its own. Marco Sara and Mario Zanusso are also producing great Schioppettino wines.
Lodging in this area has other options for us. There are many more, obviously, but being in wine country we want to stay close to wineries and vineyards. Therefore, our options are La Subida Country Resort, in the outskirts of Udine, Azienda Agricola Renato Keber, in Cormons and Relais Russiz Superiore in Capriva del Friuli. La Subida is a country place consisting on lodging and two restaurants. A typical countryside trattoria and a more special one-Michelin star restaurant. Amazing place for both sleeping and having lunch and/or dinner.
Relais Russiz Superiore is the hotel inside Russiz Superiore winery, owned by the Marco Felluga family. An incredible place where you might be able to have lunch with Roberto Felluga and his family. And also a wonderful chance to taste all their wines under the Marco Felluga and Russiz Superiore labels.
Renato Keber has a family-owned winery where you will be able to enjoy his work macerating white grapes. Outstanding work, we have to say.
While we bunk here visiting the local wineries, plenty of them by the way, another great place to visit for lunch or dinner is L’Argine a Vencò, a very special restaurant counting with a Michelin Star. They also have a B&B.
After our two days here (maybe more, of course, since we have a lot to visit), we will move southeast in the direction of Trieste. Plenty of places to stay as well. Staying at Renato Keber’s is an great option. We can go to any of the hotels in Gorizia, or staying in the countryside. This second option is what I suggest, so either Keber or crossing the Slovenian border to Medana are best options. You can read about Medana in my previous article about Slovenia wine tour.
I would dedicate three days for this stint in our trip. Oslavia is huge in terms of wineries worth visiting. San Floriano del Collio is a beautiful village with vineyards everywhere. Wherever you look at, your eyes will be overwhelmed by the view of thousands of grape clusters if you go in the right season.
San Floriano and neighbor Oslavia are home to some of the best (in my opinion) winemakers around. Here we can find the members of a group called Associazione Produttori Ribolla di Oslavia, devoted to produce wines with the wonderful local variety Ribolla Gialla. Members are Dario Prinčič, Stefano Bensa from La Castellada, Saša Radikon, Rinaldo Fiegl from Fiegl, Silvan Primosic from Primosic and Ana and Franco Sosol from Il Carpino.
Outside the association but still in Oslavia, you can’t miss Joško Gravner, the father of the macerated wines and one of the true masters working with the macerated Ribolla Gialla. Any vintage you get a hold on is wonderful. Also here we can visit Franco Terpin and Matijaž Terčič if you are like me and love macerated white wines.
Another great option for staying overnight here is Azienda Vitivinicola Paraschos, in San Floriano del Collio. Alexis Paraschos is running the place after father Evangelos stepped down. His Malvasia aged in Amphora is a must-taste wine.
In the road from San Floriano to Gorizia you will find Damijan Podversic, a biodynamic producer making amazing orange wines. Please do visit him.
In our final days of this stint of our trip we will get closer to Trieste. We will go to Prepotto, a small, small village close to the Adriatic Sea. Here, for us lovers of orange wines, we will have a field day. Benjiamino Zidarich and Sandi Skerk are the guys here, both with amazing wines using the Malvasia. This is Italian Carso at its best.
Right in front of them is where Matej Lupinc has its winery and bed and breakfast. He doesn’t macerate his Malvasia or his Vitovska, but he does so with his Stara Braida, a blend of both. Wonderful wine.
Being located here, we have more visits to make. Going up to San Michele Del Carso, a place famous during the hard years of WWI and the Austro Hungarian Empire. This area, home of battles between ferocious armies, holds now Castello Di Rubbia, a winery lead by Nataša Cernič. Vitovska and Malvasia at its best.
After visiting Nataša, 300 meters from her place is Locanda Devetak. You won’t ever find a better Slovenian-style restaurant that this one. Avgustine runs his family place combining the local food with one of the best cellars you will ever find around. Try to get him allowing you to visit it, but you will need to be there well ahead of business time. Here you will also be able to stay overnight in their B&B.
After this visit, Matej Skerlj will be waiting for you with a glass of Vitovska and another of Malvasia. He also holds a B&B, so we have plenty of options here.
And you can’t leave the Carso not visiting Paolo Vodopivec. He is one of my true Gods of orange wines. He only works with the Vitovska but he does it in a way you have to, and I really mean it, you have to give it a try.
After all our wines tasted and great local food enjoyed, it is time for going back home to get some rest and get ready for our next trip. Which one we will visit? We need to carefully think about it.
Where to sleep
Where to eat
Where to sleep
Dario Prinčič. www.princicdario.com
La Castellada. www.lacastellada.it
Il Carpino. www.ilcarpino.com
Joško Gravner. www.gravner.it
Franco Terpin. www.francoterpin.com
Matijaž Terčič. www.tercic.com
Damijan Podversic. www.damijanpodversic.com
Header Photo (C) Zidarich