The viticultural area
Historically speaking, the winegrowing area of Štajerska Slovenija has always proven its potential for quality. Two world wars and their political aftermath have, however, left their traces. It is our ambition to wake Štajerska Slovenija from its slumber, with great passion and a good deal of work.
Our Slovenian vineyards are located in the Haloze region near the town of Ptuj, around 60 km south of our winery. Terraced vineyards on steep hills characterize the scenery. Our grape vines grow in south-facing bowl-shaped sites.
The calcareous clay soil or marl, as experts would call it, is referred to as “opok” in Südsteiermark or “opoka” in large parts of Slovenia. Winegrowers in Gorca simply call it “lapor” (Slovenian for marl), a name that we would also like to use. The humus-bearing topsoil layer is rather thin, which is why the grape vines are deeply rooted in the lapor, in search for nutrients. This is reflected in the wines: lean, by no means opulent or fruit-forward, salty, and with a long-lasting finish.
The climate in Štajerska Slovenija resembles ours in Südsteiermark. Both areas are influenced by the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. Warmer days and cool nights characterize their aromas. The only difference: it rains much less in the wine-growing village of Gorca, with an annual average precipitation of 600 litres/sqm (in Ratsch we have 1 000 l/sqm). The air in the bowl-shaped sites of Gorca is also much warmer as the sides of the terraced hills reflect the heat.
In 2004 Alois Gross received a hand-written letter with an offer to purchase a small house and vineyard in the viticultural area of Gorca, Slovenia. The seller, an elderly woman in Vienna, wanted to make sure that her family’s possession passed into good hands. Alois saw no need to enlarge his winery by another vineyard 60 km away and first did not respond to the letter. When a postcard arrived from the same sender a few weeks later, they agreed to go and have a look. Their destination was some ten km south of Ptuj in an extremely charming landscape.
On a little hill, at the end of the road, was a vintner’s house surrounded by grape vines. Enchanted by the little estate and its surroundings, Alois decided to spend more time there in the future.
A little later, the neighbours contacted him: two groups of heirs with up to 27 legal successors, none of whom had anything to do with wine, also wanted to sell. When Johannes and Michael first visited the region, they saw its potential right away. They planted new vineyards, replaced the dead vines, and learned to work with the existing terroir and its fruits.
Seven years after their first trip to Gorca, they launched “Colles 2011”, their first wine from the area.
The young Sauvignon Blanc vines were given ideal conditions to take root in the hard subsoil of the terraced vineyards. We planted them 50 cm deep in holes that we drilled using an earth auger and then filled with organic humus rich in nutrients.
In 2008 Johannes and Michael Gross paid a visit to István Szepsy, the pioneer of dry Furmint, in order to buy a selection of his best grape vines. They bred the vines and planted them on the terraces in Gorca.