Website: Štoka Winery
Country Location: Slovenia
Wind, caverns and the Adriatic Sea define the Slovenian/Italian border region of the Kras. For over 200 years, the Štoka family has nurtured the native red Teran and white Vitovska in the iron rich “terra rossa” that the Kras is famous for.
The appellation. The Štoka farm is located north-east of Trieste about 5 miles from the Adriatic in the village of Krajna Vas. The Kras, or “Carso” as it is called in nearby Italy, is Europe’s first recognized cross border wine region, the two countries even adhere to similar production regulations. Despite its excellent position, very little land in the Kras is suitable for grape cultivation, only 600 hectares of vines are planted between the 2 countries. The tiny amount of fertile soil is the result of various human and natural events. Historically oak forests dominated the land until the Venetians deforested nearly everything to build ships and city of Venice. The resulting erosion and the famously strong winds called the “burja” caused huge amounts of topsoil to simply blow away. People learned how to build stonewalls called “griže” to protect against the wind and small manmade lakes to gather rain called “kali” to keep crops alive. Farmers, including the Štoka family, even learned to transport soil to naturally protected locations.
Coupled with the regions already soluble bedrock (mostly limestone and dolomite) and lack of surface water, the Kras is riddled with sinkholes, cenotes, and massive mostly unexplored underground caves. It is one of the most severe and unique terroirs in the world. In addition to growing grapes and making wine, the Štoka family raise cattle and pigs. The pršut, or air-dried ham they produce is the ultimate compliment to their wines. Primož Štoka bottled his first wine 1989 just before Slovenia’s separation from former Yugoslavia. Today, his son Tadej, works alongside him in the vineyards and cellar.
In the vineyards. Historically, Teran from Kras has been prized for its medicinal properties, it is one of Slovenia’s only wines of protected origin. Outside of Kras, the Teran vine is known as Refošk. The high content of aluminum and iron oxide in the Karst soil, gives the soil the characteristic red color and the wines their unusually high iron content. Conditions here are generally dry, windy and variable in temperature. The Štoka family farms about 25 hectares, Teran accounts for about half of this, the remainder is divided between Vitovska, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Most vineyards around 800 feet above sea level and sheltered by young oak forests that help tame the cool northerly winds, and trap the warm air of the Adriatic. All vineyards are dry-farmed, fertilized only with cow manure when necessary, and worked by hand. Averaging 20 years, vines are mostly mature, single gyot trained and planted to 5000 plants per hectare. Yields are severely restricted. Green harvest is typically performed in the Spring and then again just before veraison.
In the cellar. Grapes are hand harvested, sorted, de-stemmed, and fermented with native yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel. Maceration of grapes during fermentation is practiced with white and red varieties alike, no sulfur is added until fermentation is complete. During vinification the wine is transported only with gravity. All Teran is aged in large used oak barrels. This is essential to tame the notoriously high acid of the variety. Used wood is critical so as not to disturb the delicate perfume of each variety. Wines are typically fined and filtered.