THE fermented juice of this season’s grapes officially became wine last weekend, and Slovenia marked the occasion with the traditional Martinovanje (St. Martin’s Day) feast, wine tasting, and general merry-making (all before going off to vote on Sunday).
Under a big white tent on the castle grounds on Saturday, a “bishop” and his friends had fun baptizing the must (new wine), and then, of course, tasting it.
In another tent, local wineries like Jeruzalem Ormož, one of the fair’s sponsors, offered samples. Visitors could also try honey mead, fruit brandies, pumpkin seeds, and more. It was hard to save room for the feast.
The feast itself, found in local homes and at restaurants like Gostilna Prošnik, features roasted goose, sweet red cabbage, and mlinci, a baked noodle dish. Monika Ivanuša, a local tour guide, said she’d be preparing her family’s spread the next morning, using a goose that family friends gave her as thanks for help picking grapes.
Inside the castle were handicraft exhibitions (including a demonstration of how to weave bottle-shaped baskets in which newly christened vino can wait its turn) as well as folk musicians:
For those who preferred to experience their wines one by one, wineries sprinkled throughout the area offered tastings.
In the cellar of the small but impressive Čurin-Prapotnik winery, vintner Stanko Čurin (seen at left) stood among the oak barrels as he poured white wines for guests. He specializes in semi-sweet and sweet wines, including the 2004 Šipon Ledeno Vino (Šipon Iced Wine), a medal winner at the London International Wine Fair. Čurin says Šipon got its name when Napoleon visited the region. Upon tasting the wine, the Slovene speakers listening to him thought they heard him say “Šipon.” But what had he really said? According to Čurin: “C’est bon.”
It still is.