Website: Črnko Winery
Country Location: Slovenia
Silvo Črnko beams with happiness and so do his wines. They are universally forward and fragrant but with an elusive mineral underpinning that demands serious attention. Črnko wines are an absolute joy to drink and as appropriate for the inexperienced and curious, as the serious enthusiast.
The appellation.The Črnko farm is located on the eastern side of Slovenia, north of Maribor and just south of the Austrian border. It is a breath taking environment of endless rolling green hills lined with vineyards that stretch the length of the horizon. Until 1918, this area was known as Lower Styria (formally Austria) and had been for many centuries. Grapes have also been cultivated here for over 2,000 years in addition to famed aromatic hop fields and ethereal pumpkin seed oil; a real treat with the local wines. The rich agricultural diversity of these Slovenian Hills owes itself to fertile soils and the unique convergence of Continental, Alpine and Mediterranean climates. In large part it is the balance between these climates that make the wines of Slovenia so regional and so interesting. The bulk of Črnko’s production is divided between their line of single varietal premium bottlings and the easy drinking house cuvee Jareninčan. Small amounts of sweet wine and a sparkling wine called “Oceanus” that is aged 250 feet under the Adriatic are also produced. Not surprisingly, Silvo Črnko beams with happiness and so do his wines.
In the vineyards.The two south/south west facing vineyards the Črnko family farms are planted to a specific form of marl. 16 million of years ago the region was part of the Pannonian Sea and exploding with life. Today it is 2.5 miles thick of sedimentary soil. It looks a lot like slate but is brittle and silty to the touch.
This unique soil is common to the famed vineyards of Brda, on the western side of Slovenia bordering Italy and lends the same mineral complexity to the wines, especially the whites. Jareninski Vrh is the hill the Crnko farm lies at the base of. Behind it, 3.5 hectares total of Yellow Muscat, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Laski (Italian) Riesling, Riesling and Pinot Gris rise quickly to about 400 meter above sea level. The vineyard is pretty and steep. Even Silvo Črnko, who grows the grapes and makes the wine, gets winded during a stroll. Half a mile away is the equally steep vineyard Slatinek: 2.5 hectares of Yellow Muscat, Mueller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc, Laski Riesling and Gewurztraminer
In the cellar. Only estate fruit is used. Hand harvested by family and friends into small plastic bins that are then transported to the winery by tractor. Harvest is split between the best selection of grapes used to make the single variety wines. The remainder of the juice finds its way into Jarenincan. For the Jareninčan most grapes are co-fermented but others (usually the aromatic) are blended in after fermentation. Single variety wines rest briefly on the lees.
In the farm.Growing grapes and making wine is the main business of Silvo Črnko and his wife, Alenka but not the extent of what they do. Both are university trained agronomists who would doubtfully be content farming only one thing. So in addition to the wines, they also raise a variety of livestock for milk, meat, cheese and eggs, preserve a wide range of fruits and vegetables from their own garden and orchards and bake bread daily, from wheat they grew and milled themselves.