Rebula – Sustainable by Nature

The dramatically beautiful ‘land of a thousand terraces’ that encompasses Slovenia’s Brda and Italy’s Collio is a single wine landscape divided by a political border. Now in its fifth year, the Brda Home of Rebula conference continues to bridge this border by bringing together 13 wineries from both countries to showcase the incredibly versatile and exciting Rebula grape. Suited to a variety of styles – from fine sparklings, to fresh classic or more complex, oak aged and skin- fermented expressions – Rebula can now be found on the best wine lists around the world and consistently wins accolades in international wine competitions, not least the Decanter Wine World Awards.

Sense of place

This year, sustainability and terroir have been key topics, with Brda’s dry-farmed vineyards playing strongly into these themes. As elsewhere, lack of rainfall has been a problem, with the last significant rains falling in December 2021, until August storms arrived. At the peak of summer, the only green plants across the region were the vines, namely the deep-rooted old Rebula, able to find water despite no irrigation.

The opoka soils which underlie all the best vineyard sites are also important, directly shaping the mineral character of the region’s wines and the vines’ resilience to increasing natural challenges. Opoka fractures easily, allowing vines to easily root down 10-12m, and its silt particles, rich in nutrients and minerals, dissolve in the rain and flow to the root zone. Terraces have been a necessity since Roman times, allowing growers to farm steep slopes, retain water and minimise erosion. This is still the case, as space and water availability remain a central issue. This challenging topography also requires all work to be done by hand, an aspect that shapes the character of local viticulture and winemaking, in which man and vines live harmoniously according to nature’s cycles.

Opoka soils

Sustainable vocation

‘Sustainability is in our DNA,’

said one winemaker. Sustainability covers several pillars, from environmental concerns to economic and social resilience. Brda’s vineyard area has been stable for decades as people make a sufficient living from grapes and wine, and indeed the terraced slopes mean handwork is a valuable necessity. In terms of ecology, the vineyards are dotted with small woodlands and patches of wildflowers, filled with butterflies and bees. These provide ecological niches for endemic species and help moderate the climate in both summer and winter. In the vineyard, most producers work sustainably with several also certified organic and/or biodynamic.

Even in a warming climate, Rebula has significant advantages in its ability to resist drought and ripen at moderate alcohol, while keeping good acidity. The special nature of Rebula was highlighted, during the last edition of the Brda Home of Rebula conference, by a rare opportunity to taste the 1957 vintage. The best bottles were amazingly alive, vibrant and still clearly showed the characteristic flavours and freshness of Rebula. Truly a unique demonstration of why Rebula should be the flagship grape of the Brda and Collio region, fundamentally suited to the natural and human challenges ahead. A mere 30 mins from Trieste airport or one hour from Venice’s, it’s easy and well worth seeing this beautiful landscape for yourself while exploring its many walking and cycling trails.

Gašper ?arman and Caroline Gilby MW at this year’s Brda Home of Rebula conference and masterclass

Newly-released Rebula wines to try

Classical Wines

Klet Brda Rebula Quercus 2021
Inviting apple blossom and meadowsweet aromas. Good weight and silky texture, with notes of cut pear, supported by vibrant acidity. A benchmark for the classic, fresh style of young Rebula, named after the oak (quercus) forests that used to blanket the local hills.

Dolfo Rebula 2021
‘Dry, extremely dry’ is Dolfo’s motto, to express the region’s natural…

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Rebula – Sustainable by Nature  
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