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This tour is designed to showcase the best food, wine and culinary traditions that the diverse regions of Slovenia and Croatia have to offer. Immerse in this culinary utopia at the very best time of the year, the harvest season; the leaves are turning color, vineyards are being harvested, and the smell of wood stoves and heavenly aromas float through the cool air. On this unique tour, enjoy superb culinary delicacies, explore castles, stroll through old Venetian towns, discover colorful frescoes in tiny churches, and make a personal connection between the food, the land and its people.
On this tour, you will be accommodated in bed and breakfasts and farmhouses, all with en-suite bathrooms.
Departure from your hotel in Ljubljana at 09:00. On the way to your destination, you will pay a visit to the castle of Predjama, tucked away in a honeycomb of limestone caves. Then, move on to the vineyards, orchards, and winding country roads of Brda. Once in Brda, experience a scrumptious welcome with a five-course slow-food lunch at a guesthouse and winery, tasting a different wine with each dish.
After the meal, you will tour your hosts wine cellar and learn about wine making traditions and methods including the use of amphorae (known as qveri in their native Georgia). A unique amber wine is produced after the juice spends 11 months next to the skins inside the amphora. This winery was recently put on the list of 100 best wineries in the world by Wine and Spirits Magazine. Spend the night in Brda.
Awake to a breakfast out in the patio overlooking vineyards and hill towns. After breakfast, go to the Erzeti winery in Visnajvic, the birthplace of Rebula wine, the quintessential wine of this region. The Erzeti winery works with amphorae to produce a line of orange wines. Taste these unique wines as well as wines made in a more traditional manner. Continue the tour tasting the olive oil of a local producer, and have lunch in the walled medieval hill town of Smartno. After lunch, take a stroll through the oldest olive tree plantation in the region, and head up to a viewpoint tower to take in picturesque panoramas of Brda.
Later in the afternoon, cross the border into Italy to a region known as Collio, where you will taste prosciutto crudo smoked in cherry wood and laurel, before visiting a farm to sample freshly made ricotta and caciotta cheese flavored with wild herbs and flowers. This evening, enjoy a delicious home cooked dinner in a chateau built by the counts of Gorizia in the 13th century. This chateau is now the home to Bjana Winery, one of the finest sparkling wine producers in Slovenia. Tour the winemakers cellar and learn about the traditional method of sparkling wine (where secondary fermentation takes place in bottles). Spend the night in Brda.
Depart Brda and travel to the Karst region known for its limestone caves and iron-rich Teran wines. Tour the medieval hill town of Stanjel to see its art gallery and pretty Ferrari gardens. Later on, go on a tour and tasting to a Karst prosciutto factory followed by lunch at a rustic countryside stone house. After lunch, go to the Rencel winery, which has been making orange and macerated wines before they were so fashionable, and taste some local goat cheeses with Rencels own balsamic vinegar. Today, have dinner at a rustic farmhouse owned by the Skerlj family. Their house specialty is a beefsteak with prosciutto (Kraki prut) in local Teran wine sauce, and an impossible-to-say-no-to homemade honey ice cream. Spend the night in Karst.
Enjoy a one of a kind opportunity to sit down and talk about technique and wine business with Matjaz, a local winemaker. Later on, have lunch at the Gostilna pri Lojzetu restaurant, which features Toma Kavcic, arguably Slovenias top chef. Today, you will also learn the history of Vipava at the small village of Goce and taste some superb bio-dynamic wines at the nearby Guerila winery. Dinner back at the Skerlj farmhouse. Afterwards, your hosts will tell you the story of their 400-year-old property and let you sample grappa and liquors in their prosciutto-drying cellar. Spend the night in Karst.
As you enter into Croatias Istria region, you will visit the charming hill town of Groznjan. Once nearly abandoned, its now bustling with art galleries, handmade jewelry shops, and gourmet food shops. Today, you will have an organic lunch at an Istrian arboretum with indigenous, healing and aromatic Mediterranean herbs, a special place with arguably the most gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea. Check into the hotel in the small medieval town of Bale and end the day with an ispod peka, a traditional dinner of lamb and veal cooked under a metal bell. Spend the night in the Istria region.
Enjoy exploring Istrias most famous and picturesque town of Motovun. Then meet up with a local for a unique experience, hunting for truffles in the forests with truffle-sniffing dogs. Whether if you are lucky finding truffles or not, there will be a special truffle-themed lunch at the locals home. In the afternoon, meet a young Frenchmen whose Croatian heritage brought him to start the Piquentum Winery, and enjoy a tasting of his Istrian Teran and classic white Malvasia. After the tasting, go on a walking tour of Rovinj. This seaside town carries a Venetian past and is hands down the regions most charming place. Have some free time and later on, dinner in Rovinj. Spend the night in the Istria region.
This morning, go on a tour of Pula, Istrias largest city, loaded with rich history spanning over two millennia. Sights include a visit to Pula Arena, the largest Roman amphitheater outside of Italy, and temples dating from second century A.D. A very special lunch awaits you in a gourmet goat cheese farm located in a small hamlet hidden from the tourist roads; a feast that includes home cooked soup, specialty sausages, fish, and a smorgasbord of cheeses, nearly 20 different kinds!
By late afternoon, you will arrive to Croatias Kvarner region. The hotel you will stay in, is situated half way up a mountain with magnificent views down on Kvarner Bay and up to Mount Ucka. Built when this land was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the hotel has been beautifully restored after being closed for 80 years. Tonight, enjoy your dinner at the hotel. Spend the night in the Kvarner region.
Have some time at your leisure and back at the hotel, Savor The Experience Tours will organize a souvenir happy hour. This will be a good opportunity to open up and taste wines, liquors, snacks, and other food items that they have purchased along the tour. After the tasting, you can enjoy a la carte dining with a view from the hotel balcony. Spend the night in the Kvarner region.
Today, you will be taken back to Slovenia and head east, close to the Hungarian border to the land of Prekmurje, where you will have a traditional lunch of cold cuts, veggies, hearty breads, local white wines, and to top it off, innovative and amazingly delicious handmade chocolate truffles. Then, you will visit a small family-run mill that produces the regions ubiquitous pumpkin seed oil. After an oil tasting, you will try a variety of distilled drinks and enjoy a three-course dinner at a hotel in a small countryside village. Spend the night in eastern Slovenia.
After a morning detour into Austria, to visit a fantastic micro-brewery, owned by a Slovenian, enjoy a tour of the facilities while sampling five of their award-winning craft beers. Next, have lunch and a guided tour of the countrys oldest town in Slovenia, the charming Ptuj, where you will enjoy tastings of great sparkling and white wines at Kogl Winery. Then, you will make your way to the region of Prlekija, tucked away in rolling vineyards of southeastern Slovenia near the Croatian border. This small region might just be Slovenias most scenic wine growing region with its bucolic charm, terraced vineyards, and small churches dotting the hillsides. End the day with a delicious five-course dinner at a nearby village. Spend the night in eastern Slovenia.
After breakfast, you will head to the final destination, Slovenias mountainous Gorenjska region. This region is home to the fairytale setting of Lake Bled which is surrounded by the Julian Alps and a cliffside castle, perfect for postcard photos. Today, you will be served a very special homemade lunch with Monika, a Bled local who makes her own cheeses, dried meats, Slovenians breads and cakes, herbal, fruit liqueurs, and beer. After lunch, visit Monikas family museum filled with lace works and historic items from this region of Slovenia.
Next, learn about history and secrets of a local Slovenian beekeeper followed by a tasting of various honeys. You can have a slice of the famous cream cake (Kremnita) before enjoying a ride on a wooden boat out to the tiny Bled island. Arrive in the late afternoon to the small medieval town of Radovljica, where a family tradition of gingerbread making still exists. A farewell dinner of hearty Gorenjska fare pumpkin soup, stuffed sausages, and roast potatoes with plenty of strong drinks to end this journey. Spend the night in Radovljica.
Today, you will be transferred to the airport as your tour came to an end.
This culinary tour will take place in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Austria.
On this tour, you will be served eleven dinners accompanied by local wines and eleven lunches. Select group dinners are all handpicked by Savor the Experience Tours and are of good value and quality.
The cuisine you will experience in the region of Brda is influenced by a variety of culinary traditions (Slovene, Friulian, Habsburg) that have intertwined in this region, giving Brda cuisine a very special touch.
The property stands at a surreal location on the very top of a mountain crest, with a magnificent view of the Kvarner Bay. The regular menu consists of 20 dishes, with extra 15 dishes dictated by the local market offer. Try the marinated shrimps with crud cheese, the frog fish fillet with olive oil and white wine emulsion, or the smoked gilthead sea bream fillet.
Besides being a bohemian vibrant area, Groznjan is also a good place to find some fresh hot fritule which are Istrias delicious version of a doughnut.
The native varietals of this small region include Zelen and Pinela along with other whites and a few reds including Barbera and Merlot.
On day 8, you can choose to lounge around the hotel or taking beautiful views of Cres Island and Kvarner Bay on the Adriatic. You can also take easy walks to waterfalls or longer hikes of two or three hours around Mt. Ucka, visit the historic Habsburg spa towns of Lovran and Opatija, where, besides enjoying the spas, you can explore a grand old coffee house, or walk along the boardwalk.
In Rovinji you can explore art shops, galleries, browse the outdoor market, or get lost in a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets.
Please arrive at Ljubljana Joe Punik Airport (LJU). Savor the Experience will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.
"This tour was definitely off the beaten path! We tasted a lot of wine in Hungary and Croatia. Excellent wineries, beautiful places that would be hard to find on our own. All wine makers were very passionate about their wines and were happy to explain and share their knowledge. Food was delicious, a lot of local cuisine which is what everybody was looking for. Andrew, our tour leader, found excellent places for lunches and dinners. Few times we ate at people's houses which was an unforgettable experience. A lot, a lot of food!!! Tour was very well organized, basically very little free time, but at the same time at very relaxed pace. We brought back a lot of local wine, jam, spices, but most importantly, unforgettable memories and new friends."
BookCulinaryVacations.com website, edited
"We visited Slovenia and Croatia in May. This was our first trip to Slovenia so we really didn't know what we wanted to see or do. We left the planning to Andrew and he created our itinerary that included our visits to numerous castles, caves, tours of old towns and ruins, tours of olive making and tasting, and of course wine tasting. Our visits included Ljubljana, Brda region, Piran, Istria, Pula and probably few other places that I can't remember. We closed our adventures with an overnight stay in Logar Valley. Out of all the places we visited, this would probably by my favorite. High up in the mountains, peaceful and relaxing. It rained during our stay so we didn't get our hike in but it was perfect for a drive around the mountain and some site seeing.Our tour and adventures ended with our last day spent at Lake Bled. Andrew also included a few outdoor adventures for us; river rafting on Soca river, tandem paragliding over Motovun, cycling through Istria. Everything that Andrew had planned for us was amazing and we will definitely be going back. "
"I also want to make an important note to those that are sensitive or allergic to certain foods. I am sensitive to both gluten and dairy. Andrew communicated very closely, in advance, with owners of the bed and breakfast that we stayed at and with restaurants on my food restrictions and each catered to my diet specifically. The food and GF bread and desserts were delicious. Everything presented was homemade and fresh. My husband had the regular meals and I am sure it was just as delicious. I am so thankful I am not allergic to wine, but my husband is which means more wine for me!"
TripAdvisor website, edited