Dating back to the 15th century, Rado Kocijančič’s farm in eastern Slovenia’s reputed Brda growing district is where he cultivates six steep hectares in Šlovrenc. It’s an area that has had a rather tumultuous history given that up until the end of the 18th century it was ruled by the Republic of Venice before succumbing to Austro-Hungarian rule until 1918. Brda was then returned to Italy after WWI and remained Italian until it was transferred to Yugoslavia in 1945. Tito’s communist Yugoslavia at that time undertook to nationalize all private property and therefore claim half of all deeded holdings from landowning families. Rado’s grandfather’s twenty hectares became ten hectares in the late 1940’s due to this inopportune historical event.
Although Rado would rather forget this not so distant past, he is content that his vines are planted in soils that have been compared to Burgundy’s prestigious Côte d’Or. His terrain, ponka in Slovenian dialect, encompasses calcareous/clay marls that are sandwiched between vertical layers of sandstone (pictured below) and derived from an ancient sea bed that has gradually risen over the span of about sixty million years. The vine’s roots are therefore able to explore fossilized marine elements that impart mineral qualities to wines of this esteemed appellation. Similar to the generations that preceded him, Rado continues to focus on local varieties Rebula, Jakot (Tocai Friulano), and Refošk as well as newcomers Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio) and Sauvignon Blanc. Although Rado chooses not to certify organically, he refuses the use of copper to treat his vines and rarely cuts the grass or plows in order to promote a healthy ecosystem. Sulfur usage is also kept to a minimum, especially due to his own allergy to the additive.