Beguiling Slovenia may sound far off the beaten track, but one of its loveliest wine countries is adjacent to Italy’s renowned Friuli wine region, just a two-hour drive from the Venice airport. The unspoiled Vipava Valley, bordered by the high Trnovo Forest and Kras Plateau, produces some excellent red wines, but the whites are particularly notable. Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) achieves its full potential in these picturesque vineyards, which also make memorable Chardonnays and Merlots. But some of the local varietals, such as Rebula (Ribolla Gialla), Pinela and Vitovska, are responsible for the most fascinating wines.
The 11-room Hotel Kendov Dvorec, a 14th-century manor house overlooking a steep valley, would make a perfect base for exploring this wonderful wine country. Many fine wineries are within easy reach; some of the best include Tilia Estate, Batič and Čotar. Those unable to part from this cozy mansion, redolent with sense of place, can sample top Slovenian vintages in the hotel’s restaurant, paired with delicious regional cuisine.
An ideal itinerary could start with a stay in Venice, followed by two or three nights at the Hotel Kendov Dvorec. As time allows, also stay in enchanting Ljubljana at the Antiq Palace Hotel, on idyllic Lake Bled at the Vila Bled and in the glorious Julian Alps at Nebesa. Finish the trip with a night or two in grappa country at the Hotel Villa Cipriani before flying home from nearby Venice.