More than 100 years of tradition
The first records of the winemaking tradition in our family date back to 1895, when Matija Šuklje got a loan in the amount of 140 guilders for the restoration of the vineyard after the ravages of the vine louse. From this period onwards, the winemaking tradition on our farm has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, our 6.5 ha estate is managed by the sixth and seventh generations of the Šuklje family, namely father Jože, children Matija and Katja, and French son-in-law Guillaume. While in the 1990s Jože transferred the traditional winemaking activity to the modern era, the youngest generation today brings international experience to the family wine story.
The winery is located near the town of Metlika in Bela Krajina, in southeastern Slovenia. Nestled in the foothills of the Dinaric Alps by the Kolpa River, which marks the border with Croatia, the White Landscape is like an open amphitheater with vineyards on the slopes of the Gorjanci looking down to the plains to the south, planted with cereals, forests and criss-crossed by rivers. The landscape is typically karst, recognizable mainly by the white birches and stelniks, while the wine hills give such a typical appearance next to the masonry. Bela krajina is also the smallest Slovenian wine-growing region. Out of a total of 608 ha of vineyard land, as many as 122 ha are occupied by Modra Frankinja. The spectacle of colors and horizons does not stop from dawn to dusk and changes as the light plays with the picturesque hilly landscape. The peaceful and at the same time magical Bela Krajina is a real gift from Mother Nature.
If we would be assessing the quality of our terroir only based on esoteric criteria related to the beauty of the surrounding landscape, no doubt that our vineyards would fit into the category of world-class terroir. However, we also strongly believe in science and on that criteria too our terroir is remarkable. Bela Krajina climate can be classified as sub-Pannonian with sub-Mediterranean influences. While winters are generally cold and snowy, summers are characterized by warm days and cool nights. This important thermal amplitude (up to 20° C) is a characteristic common to numerous top terroirs around the world that allows grapes to reach optimal maturity while keeping freshness. The total yearly precipitation is around 1000-1100 mm. As our vineyards are vertically planted on steep marly slopes containing different proportions of clay and limestone, the water availability to the vine is naturally well regulated.
We are taking care of our vineyards like we do of our gardens, prohibiting herbicide and chemical fertilizer and using a sensible approach from an environmental perspective to protect our vines against disease. Contrary to the general trend in Slovenia, our vineyards are mainly planted with red varieties (70%) out of which Blaufränkisch represents 90%. For the white varieties we are still pretty diverse with Sauvignon blanc, Welschriesling, Riesling and Kerner. Blaufränkisch is a variety from Central Europe (likely from Slovenia according to a recent German study) that shows all the characteristics of great varieties. It can be made as modern fresh and fruity varietal wine as well as great refine terroir wine with long ageing potential. It is surprisingly versatile, like a sponge of terroir, what brought some wine experts to name it Pinot Noir of Eastern Europe. This king of central Europe fits perfectly to Bela Krajina where it shows so much personality.