"Slovenia is one of the best wine and gastronomy destinations right now"

Andreas Grube
Published 16-May-2024
Interview / Slovenia

Star Wine List adds a brand-new country to our guide to the best wine bars and wine restaurants in the world: Slovenia! The guide is created by our two Slovenian ambassadors, Ožbej Peterle and Ksenia Caron.

"It feels great! It is a valuable project that I use myself, and being part of such a great team of wine people feels exciting!" says Ksenia about her new role.

"It's an honour, first and foremost, to be able to promote Slovenia as a wine and gastronomic destination. Secondly, it's great to be part of a group of people who dedicate their lives to wine. It doesn't get better than this," says Ožbej.

Ksenia Caron is originally from Saint Petersburg, Russia, but has lived in Ljubljana since 2020. She holds a WSET Diploma degree and today she works as a promotor of Slovenian wines abroad, portfolio consultant for Slovenian wine distributors, educator, wine tour organizer and occasional writer.

Ožbej started his career with a degree in Economics from the University of Ljubljana and a Master's degree in Political Science from University College London (UCL). His parallel journey into the world of wine began accidentally in 2007 when he completed the wine taster exam – and was bitten by the wine bug.

In 2020, he got his WSET Diploma degree, and now he works as a freelancer involved in various projects, from writing articles to lecturing, organizing events, judging, and consulting. 

Ksenia Caron.

What are you looking forward to the most as our new ambassadors?

Ksenia: "As a foreigner who fell in love with Slovenia, I would love to open the country’s wine scene for the many people who know nothing about it. The wine and gastronomy scene is so unique here! And for me, it is really important to talk about the people who create those experiences for us."

Ožbej: "'Wine is a people's business,’ said Krister Bengtsson. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, learning more, and promoting Slovenia."

How would you describe the dining and drinking scene in Slovenia at the moment?

Ksenia: "Never been better and keeps evolving. First, we must talk about Ljubljana separately, of course. Slovenia is a pretty traditional country and so is dining in the countryside. That said, there are plenty of destination restaurants in the middle of nowhere with superb cuisine and great wine lists."

"It is an interesting moment for Ljubljana. The variety and diversity of restaurants and bars is great. But most are still focused on Slovenia’s heritage, whether it is wine or ingredients. And rightfully so, it would be bizarre not to use the richness of its nature."

Ožbej: "Dynamic. Five wine bars have opened their doors in Ljubljana in just the past year."

How much has changed in recent years and what have been the biggest changes?

Ksenia: "Wine-wise, Slovenians are more open to international wines now. And now we finally have plenty of restaurants that offer inventive high-class cuisine as casual dining!"

Ožbej: "Twenty years ago, wine drinkers could hardly differentiate between Merlot and Chardonnay. Now, they are familiar with producers, grape varieties, and vintages. This surge in knowledge among wine enthusiasts has placed considerable pressure on restaurants and sommeliers to introduce novel offerings. Simultaneously, the quality of Slovenian wine has improved a lot, thanks to the improvements in the  winemaking."

Ožbej Peterle

What are the emerging drinking trends you are seeing?

Ksenia: "For Slovenia, it is an interesting question, as some of the world trends of the recent years – natural wines and orange wines – have been the way to go here for years. I would say high-class sparkling wines are on the rise, whether local or from Champagne. Grower Champagne is finally taking off."

Ožbej: "People drink less, but they drink better. Bubbles and crisp whites are on the rise. Mostly from regional/local grape varieties such as Malvazija Istriana, Rebula, Pinela and Zelen."

What wines, styles and regions are most in demand?

Ksenia: "Blaufränkisch and Pinot Noir are on the rise, as more nuanced and terroir-driven reds are getting the spotlight."

Ožbej: "Goriška Brda is currently the most prestigious wine district in Slovenia, boasting the highest number of world-class producers. However, the latest developments in the Podravje and Posavje wine regions show great promise."

Anything you wanna add?

Ksenia: "I’m biased, of course, but Slovenia is one of the best wine and gastronomy destinations right now. There’s not much expectation, but when you come here… OMG, it is an endless exploration! Undiscovered cool climate wines, macerated and natural styles, a variety of local grapes and tiny family wineries… And I don’t want to spoil it for you describing how gorgeous it is!"

"I’m in love with the country and its people. Talking to the winemakers and chefs here you always feel that soulful attitude, humble stewardship and constant dialogue with surrounding nature."

Ožbej: "Don’t wait, book your flight now! Visit Slovenia while it's still under the radar."

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