Mlečnik family is involved in viticulture and winemaking for more than 200 years. Valter Mlečnik carries on this tradition since 1982, in 1986 he took over the work in the farm. Wine from our wine cellar is a result of his work and his beliefs regarding nature. This means respect towards all natural process, from planting vines to the bottling of wine, preserving all the time the natural harmony of the substances in wine.
Cultivation of grape is done only with use of natural means of protection. In vineyards there is a high density of vines per hectar, the method of cultivation allows only minimal quantity of grapes per vine, all the surfaces are covered with grass and other vegetation, everything is based on manual labor. Harvest takes place when the maturation of the grapes is optimal, this is followed by a shorter maceration of the whites and a longer maceration of the red varieties, all without the control of the temperature. After two years of maturation in big wooden barrels the wines are bottled without any other intervention. Time is the only tool which gives to the wine the opportunity to mature and evolve on its own.
Mlečnik family, driven by the ideas and energy of Angel Mlečnik (1899–1989), sold their old farm near the village Dornberk because it became too small for their ambitious plans. They bought a new farm in Bukovica from the count Coronini – where the family still resides. This house with a fountain has been built in 1658. All that we know today about our family tradition in making wine is that it goes back to at least 1820. In the years 1941 to 1943 we have already been bottling a part of our production for the needs of the family's inn, unfortunately all the written evidence was destroyed during the second world war.
From grape to wine
A new start in the 80's meant also a return to the natural production. First steps were made in 1987 in the old, still existing vineyard of Furlanski tokaj, quickly followed by all other vineyards.
Similar process followed in the wine cellar. In years 1985 1988 when the main part of our production was still open wine, we were already making tests with bottled wine. The official bottling was for the harvest of 1989 (half of the production) and the harvest of 1990 (entire production).
All our vineyards are a part of the “Zaščiteno geografsko poreklo” ZGP (Protected geografical origin) of Vipavska dolina (Vipava valley). This valley is approximately 40 km long and it is one of the most known wineproducing areas in Slovenia. Our vineyards are planted on the slopes of the outer parts of Hills of Bilje, in the villages Bilje and Bukovica, from 50 to 90 meters above the sea level. The varieties are Chardonnay, Rebula, Merlot and Friulano (Sauvignonasse).
New vineyard, planted from 1996 to 1999 are planted with vines from mass selection. The oldest vineyard is 0,5ha of Furlanski tokaj, planted in 1947. From this vineyard we took grafts for the new vineyard of Furlanski tokaj, planted in 1999. Cultivation is based on the same principle in all vineyards – low vines and minimal production. In the vineyards, planted after the year 1991, the density is between 6500 to 8000 vines per hectar (depends on the steepness of the terrain), in the oldest vineyard the density is lower. Current average production is 12000 bottles per year.
In the 1987 we stopped cultivating the soil and from than the ground in our vineyards is covered with grass. Entire work in the vineyard is oriented towards a minimal load on the vines, a revitalisation of the soil, increasing the natural strenght/resistance of the vines, moderation of the vegetation, usage of the natural fertalisers and protective means. In consequence, a lot of manual labor is required in the vineyards. These are basic things that allow us to set and maintain a natural ballance in the ecosystem of the vineyard.
In this way we are able to preserve the entire microflora of natural organisms – they carry on with all the natural pocesses in vineyards as in the wine cellar. From 2005 our entire farm is in official organic control.
We separate grape barries from the steams, after this the barries are meshed. We leave the wine in contact with skins (maceration) for a few days for white varieties and up to a couple of weeks for red varieties. The must is pressed and transfered into big wooden barrels of different sizes. Here the wine has the possibility to end the fermentation and the first part of maturation.
Wine is bottled after two years, its maturation continues for another 2 to 3 years in bottles. In the wine cellar we do not use any oenological means or physical intervention except for a minimum quantity of sulphur and the basic wine producing techniques, such as streaming wine and refilling the barrels. We leave the handling of all the processes that wine encounters on its way to the time.
Our wines have intensive colour, smell and taste. There is a possibility of the sediments because they are not filtered. These wines express their qualities better if they are served at a higher temperature than usual – we suggest between 13 and 15 °C for whites and between 15 and 18 °C for red wines. Our wines are suitable to accompany a very wide range of dishes.