Wish I’ll look this good at 450 years old.
Ad maiorem vini gloriam. That’s a quote next to Drava-shaped ceramic pattern on the floor of Hisa Stare Trte in Maribor, Slovenia.
It’s also a welcome greeting of Ljubljana’s Honourable Wine Convent of St Urban. With a reply:
Tako bodi! So be it!
Some women, like wine, just get better with age. But I guess 450 years is too old for both.
I traveled to Maribor tempted by the opportunity to see world’s oldest vine and hoping to discover wine culture surrounding it. And ended squeezing into wine barrel in one of the biggest classical wine cellars in Europe, with tunnels 2,5 km long conveniently located underneath Maribor’s central square, Trg Svobode.
Through a hole at my waist’s high, head first. Be careful, lift your ass, so you won’t cut yourself on the sharp edges inside – I was following my guide’s instructions. Surprisingly lacking any smell, the inside was brightly lit and a little claustrophobic. And loud – whatever I said echo repeated ten times over. Apparently a group of orchestra musicians visiting the cellars took advantage of that by playing a mini-concert inside.
Run-down, but ornamented passageways or ‘optimistic’ gravestones built onto outer side of a church. Those are Maribor walls for you.
But what would be a wine cellar tour without a wine tasting? After strolling through dark long corridors flanked by wooden, steel and concrete wine barrels, we were offered 8 different types of wine. I’m nowhere near a wine connoisseur, but have to say that local Laski Rizling was pleasantly refreshing on a hot day, just as was the chill air in the cellars itself.
Once upon a time, before the war, you could go by tunnels from Vinag wine cellars to Lent, an old part of Maribor, where Stara Trta grows. It has been growing for about 450 years now, as certified by Guinness Book of Records. And it’s still producing between 35 and 55 kg grapes per year. Many notable people, including Bill Clinton, Emperor Akihito of Japan and Pope John Paul II have been presented with a bottle as a symbolic ‘key to the city’.
And one more final tip – listen to the locals saying and beware:
You can get drunk in Maribor just by breathing the air!
With Old Vine Museum inside. Most notable possession – undrinkable wine.
That’s a problem in Maribor, especially for budget and long-time travelers. When you search for accommodation online there are some options. Unfortunately none that would recommend.
Eat, Sit and Possibly Drink
Grill Ranca – and their specialty pljeskavica. Giant plate with juicy, but crispy meat surrounded by various types of peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions and other delicious accompaniments. In Lent, with a view of Drava and a feeling of it’s breeze.
Isabella (Postna ulica 3) – seems like panini is in fashion everywhere in Maribor. But here it’s fresh, local and often organic. Plus the interior is clean, bright, with colorful accents to make things interesting.
Plantaza Caffe – more for locals, less for tourists, little off the center, but everything’s close in Maribor. And the coffee is delicious!
There’s public Wifi on Trg Svobode.
It’s definitely not a backpacker destination.
There are good and comfortable train connecting Maribor to Ljubljana and Graz in Austria.