BRDA Gorica Hills wine region

Don't worry, if you haven't heard of the uberstunning Gorica Hills "Brda" wine region yet, but by the end of this article, don't be surprised if you are building a little trip here into your Green Slovenian masterplans!

And let's agree to call this new secret mini wine region Brda for ease.. say BIRRRDA in English, you need to roll your R a little as if you live in Bristol and own a tractor! (apologies for the self indulgent British joke there)!

Another of those 7 Slovenian unique wine regions is the uberstunning Vipava wine valley, right next door to Brda, but completely different and already, quite rightly recognised by Lonely Planet as one of the 10 top secret places to visit in Europe.. But we think Brda is next in line to get recognised by Lonely Planet sooner or later, so better you know more about it's secrets now!

Smartno was just made to explore..
Smartno was just made to explore..


Ok, so let's work with what you might just about know already about Brda and work towards a very pleasant surprise indeed for you!

So, you probably know Green Slovenia makes fantastic wine.. and either you knew already or you just found out that we have 7 completely different wine regions.

Well, Brda is one of those 7 and it is completely & totally DIFFERENT to the other seven!

Brda is like a self sustaining island, cut off from the mainland, sitting in a far south western corner of Green Slovenia, with sun drenched Mediterranean hills rising high above the town of Nova Goricia on the Soca river, covered in vineyards and producing the first eagerly awaited Slovenian cherries of the season.

This region is called Goriska Brda, which means the "Gorica Hills", but fortunately if you just say BIRRRRDA, despite there being an awful lot of other hills in Green Slovenia, the locals will know which particular region you are talking about!!

Some French guests told us Brda reminds them of particular wine regions in parts of France and the roads are so wiggly here that you go in and out of Italy without even knowing it!

a delicious Brda starter..
a delicious Brda starter..


Scattered across these big Gorica Hills are even more little hills dotted with pretty little hill top medieval villages and picture perfect churches.. and a lot of trees!

Put simply, Brda is one of the most beautiful mini regions in the whole of Green Slovenia and this is saying something.. 

The only thing Brda really has in common with the rest of Slovenia's mini regions is that it is a small "municipality" with a tiny population of about 6,000 people across 72 square km, which would be a lot bigger if it was flattened!

Green Slovenia is made up of hundreds of these little "island" municipalities, where you can find another different corner of your European dreams.. Each corner is so culturally and geographically different to the others..

main tower entrance to Smartno.. invaders knock here to come in..
main tower entrance to Smartno.. invaders knock here to come in..


It is not our fault that you might have already decided to go for the well trodden Bled, Ljubljana, Postojna & Piran route to discover the most beautiful country in Europe.. that will give you a wonderful holiday.. but you will miss out on Brda..!!

We noticed this logistical twist when locating our dream hotel and so we plonked the Lodge in the very best location to get to ALL the best Green places in Slovenia! Brda included.. Simple as that!

So we can pop right up to the far corner of Brda to sit on a Mediterranean restaurant terrace with a view over distant Italian vineyards in 55 minutes.. so we do!

More importantly, our proximity to Brda means Lodge guests can get up there easily to explore for a whole day or maybe a half day visit combined with some other very different options like the Lower Soca valleyVipava valley, the Teran Kras, (yet another stunning Slovenian wine region) or do a round trip through Italy via Cividale del Fruili or Trieste on the way home!

the stunning bridge over the Soca river at Kanal..
the stunning bridge over the Soca river at Kanal..


So How on earth do I get to Brda?..

It takes just 40 mins from the Lodge to whizz up the beautiful Vipava valley, by passing Nova Goricia to reach the bridge that takes you over the uberstunning Soca river and immediately into Brda!

It really does feel like being on an island when here, as the road from the bridge whisks you up the hill and around the corner to leave the rest of the world far behind. Whether you like it or not, inside the first few km, you will encounter a road sign for "Slovenia", so it means somehow you have been in Italy..maybe just Italian airspace!

And then the sleepy, sunny, wiggly roads welcome you into another world, filled with vineyards, fantastic restaurants and cherry blossom.

view from the Gonjace tower to the hill top village of Smartno..
view from the Gonjace tower to the hill top village of Smartno..


So is Brda all about wine tasting?..

YES and NO! Brda is a sensational little unique Slovenian wine region, but you can also explore here without setting foot in a vineyard.. so Brda is ALL about the wine and NOTHING about the wine, depending on what you want to get up to today!

Let us explain more what we mean.. It would be a mistake to visit Brda just to go wine tasting, to tick off another wine region BUT CONVERSELY, it would be an equally big mistake to decide to not visit Brda cos you have been to one or more of the other wine regions.. in short, Go Visit Brda!

Rebula Wine..

So just like Slovenia's other 6 wine regions, Brda is completely different from the others.. Brda's unique mediterranean climate and rolling green hills are perfect for producing high quality local white Rebula wine which can be young and fresh or aged to perfection.

Of course you can get many other vintages here, but Rebula is the unique local wine to try and considered one of the highest quality Slovenian wines.

Some Brda vineyards even spill over into Italy, so half the production is in each country!

Wine tasting is a different pursuit and passion here in Slovenia, so you might be lucky, but we would warn you not to just rock up here and expect to go wine tasting, much better to contact the excellent TIC (Tourist Info Centre) in Smartno, who very helpfully produce a list of locl winemakers open and awaiting your visit on one particular day!


So How on Earth do I explore Brda?..

There are many ways to discover Brda..It would be easy and simple to stick to the main road that weaves between some lovely little villages for a magical day and we will soon recommend some highlights along the way for you below.

But if you really want to explore Brda, then take another look at the map and think about heading out on the even smaller roads towards the bridge the takes you out of Brda over the Soca river to Plave.

You could even go for it, taking the very wiggly hilly road that takes you out of Brda towards Kanal for a really epic adventure in the green wilds of Slovenia! We havent completely done this one yet, but it is on our list to do!

Leave lunch as flexible for the day.. Once you have crossed the Soca from Gorica into Brda, glancing briefly across the stunning river towards the longest stone arch bridge in the world at Solkan and gone up that first hill, with everyone questioning "how on earth we got into Italy for 10 seconds" when you see that Slovenia road sign.. you will immediately land in the middle of it all with pretty villages and vineyards all over the place.. so leave it a bit flexible for lunch as who knows where you might stop or end up today!


Finally, some Brda Highlights..


Is the first larger village you will get to and this is where the the number of vineyards explodes in every direction and in turn where you might lose your own sense of direction as you will be truly surrounded by everything Brda!

a really great view of the whole of Brda from the top of this tower.. But make sure you glue your wig on..
a really great view of the whole of Brda from the top of this tower.. But make sure you glue your wig on..


the Tower, (Gonjace Stolp)..

Just after Kojsko is the little village of Gonjace, so keep your eyes right for a little side road that will take you up to the lookout tower (stolp) where there is a car park and sensational views across this mini region.

The tower doesn't look particularly high until you go up it, but we highly recommend you get over any fears you might have of heights as this is one of the most rewarding towers in Slovenia..

Other towers might be higher, with views not quite as good or as beautiful as this Gonjace tower, which absolutely defines the Brda region with bells and whistles on!

It is in the perfect place to capture a 360 degree view of the entire region from up here. All the green hills, the cherry orchards and the vineyards and especially across to your next stop, the pretty little hill top village of Smartno.

Remember Gonjace if you come back this way as you turn here to go direction Plave and the Lower Soca valley..

handy signs and pictures all around Smartno village..
handy signs and pictures all around Smartno village..


Smartno (St Martins)..

There are stunning hill top medieval villages dotted around Croatian Istria, but we prefer the secret Slovenian ones with just one or two restaurants or souvenir shops for every dozen over the border and far fewer people around too!

Smartno is exactly one of these stunning Slovenian hill top villages protected by several beautiful round towers and a medieval wall and a huge tip for a stop off to have a relaxed stroll around and get into all those medieval nooks & crannies to see what you can find!

The village has been beautifully restored and renovated with just a few restaurants, an excellent TIC (Tourist Info Office) and a wonderful path that circles it all and we urge you strongly to make time for an explore around here. Everything has been finished off well here and there are helpful info signs and photos of old times posted on boards to help you explore the village too.

surprises around every corner in Smartno..
surprises around every corner in Smartno..



The next village of Dobrovo has a beautiful little renaissence castle with local museum that is a typical warm feature of castles in Slovenia and if you don't go in and have a look, then you will not find out what little treasures are inside!

Dobrovo sits at the heart of the Brda region and expect to find lots of activities ranging from here.. we spotted a sign for donkey trekking at the castle and guess what.. that is on our list too!

Dobrovo castle..
Dobrovo castle..


There are little villages with restaurants dotted all along the border around here and we have a particularlar favourite which is also a winery, called Belica, just a short drive from Dobrovo centre, but seriously, there are a lot of good restaurants around here on the Italian border, so good food, not just wine, is certainly a main reason for you to come to Brda.


Cramp Gorge (Krcnik)..

If you didn't want to do the entire longer drive through the back of Brda to the Soca river, then how about a shorter search for a stunning gorge that will allow you to dip your toes into the remote Brda jungle!

From Dobrovo go to Neblo and then a few km from here you can park up in a tiny little village to hike to the Cramp Gorge, (Krcnik). It is one of Slovenia's most secret and beautiful small gorges and worth the hassle of finding it.

cramp gorge is very different o other Slovenian gorges and it is a real Green treasure hunt to find it..
cramp gorge is very different o other Slovenian gorges and it is a real Green treasure hunt to find it..


On this little search you can feel as if you have fallen off the edge of the world. It all feels so remote, but you are always surrounded by thick green forest and just like in so many other secret spots in Slovenia you will need to pinch yourself to remind yourself where you are in Europe.. in this case Brda feels very Italian.. but is in Green Slovenia!

On the search for the gorge you also criss cross established hiking trails and we want to empthasize how much hiking there is out here in the green wilderness AND you do not have to religiously follow hiking trails cos there is just so much hiking here!

There are even completely deserted little villages on some hilltops where the the locals just found it too remote to live in the older days, but us visitors just goggle in disbelief at how such isolated paradises can be left empty.

view over to Italy from the Belica restaurant car park..
view over to Italy from the Belica restaurant car park..


Cherry Festival..

We already mentioned Brda's cherry heritage and as you might expect in Slovenia, this is a good excuse for a big party, so if you come in early spring, try to drop in to the Cherry festival, centred in Dobrovo, but all over this tiny mini region!

However the whole of Brda is absolutely covered in cherry blossom in the period before this festival, so another reason to make an early Spring tour!

We constantly tip the months of April, May, September and October as the very best times to hit Green Slovenia, if you can make it at this time and Brda is especially one of those mini regions, perfectly accessible form the Lodge in a daytrip that will be empty of people and full of blossoms or bulging vines, depending which end of the season you come here.


Address: Landol 17, Postojna 6230, Slovenia

Phone: +386 5620 3443
Mobile: +386 40 47 0239 or +386 40 37 8037