Cycling through the Castle wine stories of Posavje
SLOVENIA – Posavje
Let’s feel the wind blow through our hair on our way across one of the warmest regions of Slovenia – the Lower Sava Valley, or as we call it, Posavje. Round here, many a wonder takes place – as water turns into wine and words into laughter. While there are bubbles dancing both in fine sparkling wines and thermo-mineral springs.
For Posavje, the new world began to flourish centuries ago when its nobles were enjoying life in their mansions and castles. These same walls and legends still pamper and excite us today. While exploring the region you can visit the big foursome of Posavje castles – the castles of Mokrice, Brežice, Rajhenburg, and Sevnica, the home town of the first lady of the United States.
In Posavje, when we want to feel happy and healthy, we like to sip some of the best wines and sparkling wines produced with traditional methods in family vineyards. And when we are hungry, our hosts serve us local specialities made with ingredients from their home gardens, nearby forests, or rivers. Round here, it is easy to remember why it is good to be alive.
Explore the land of electricity produced by the Sava River on comfortable and well-wound electric bicycles. If you look at the map of Slovenia and notice the country’s shape of a chicken, you will find its heart right here in Posavje. And as you experience the scenery and hospitality of this corner of Europe, your heart will leap with happiness.
CYCLE TRIP OF POSAVJE CASTLE WINE STORIES
The trip includes two overnight stays with full board, tastings, guided tours, and electric bicycle renting. For closed groups (2–10 people) by prior arrangement. The package price is 920 € per person. Information and reservations: www.visit-sevnica.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
18:00: Arrival and check-in at Hotel Mokrice Castle
19:00: Visit to the castle wine cellar for dinner and a tasting of Posavje wines
9:30: Departure from the hotel and cycling to Brežice
11:00: Tour of Brežice Castle
13:00: Lunch at Splavar Hotel
15:00: Departure from Brežice and cycling to Hotel Tri Lučke
18:00: Arrival at Tri Lučke, check-in
19:00: Four-course dinner of local cuisine, served next to an old wine press and tasting of local Posavje wines in the wine cellar
9:30: Departure to Rajhenburg Castle
10:00: Guided tour of the Trappist monks exhibition at Rajhenburg Castle, chocolate workshop and chocolate wine tasting (Kunej House of Vines, Wines and Chocolate)
12:00: Departure to Sevnica
14:00: Arrival in Sevnica, lunch at Ajdovec Hotel’s Restaurant Ajda
16:00: Tour of Sevnica Castle and Blaufränkisch wine tasting.
18:00: End of wine tasting and departure to the Sevnica railway station
18:20: Train departure
18:44: Arrival in Brežice
IN POSAVJE, HEALTH IS WEALTH: AWAKEN YOUR HEART IN THE LAND OF WATER AND WINE
With the wind in your hair, set off on a three-day journey across Thermal Pannonian Slovenia. Even the Celts and later the ancient Romans were very fond of the land along the Sava River, the longest river in Slovenia. Across Pannonia and Posavje, the regions’ soft wine-growing hillsides and fertile fields, Gaius Julius Caesar’s army built the most important road to the south and east of the old world. For Posavje, the new world began to flourish centuries ago when its nobles were enjoying life in their mansions and castles. These same walls and legends still pamper and excite us today. While exploring the region you can visit the big foursome of Posavje castles – the castles of Mokrice, Brežice, Rajhenburg, and Sevnica, the home town of the first lady of the United States.
In Posavje, when we want to feel happy and healthy, we like to sip some of the best wines and sparkling wines produced with traditional methods in family vineyards. And when we are hungry, our hosts serve us local specialities made with ingredients from their home gardens, nearby forests, or rivers. Round here, it is easy to remember why it is good to be alive. Since cycling can be a delightful activity, it is worth exploring the land of electricity produced by the Sava River on comfortable and well-wound electric bicycles. If you look at the map of Slovenia and notice the country’s shape of a chicken, you will find its heart right here in Posavje. The English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys knew this, which is probably why they chose this region for recording the music video for their song Heart. As you experience the scenery and hospitality of this corner of Europe, your heart will leap with happiness.
DAY ONE: FROM CASTLE PEARS TO THE DEVIL IN A BOTTLE, AND THE WINE CELLAR
Our first stop is Mokrice Castle. What an estate! Not only is the golf course here the brainchild of a star architect and probably the toughest golf course in Slovenia, there are also orchards and some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Slovenia growing around the castle. In the middle of a mysterious hill lies the Chapel of Saint Anne, the patron saint of love. Although she could not help Countess Barbara, of whom there are a number of legends about her unrequited love. We will make a toast to love with Mokrice Williams pear brandy which is sometimes called house devil in a bottle. Sometimes Slovene men challenge each other who can drink more glasses of this pear brandy but we will not join them this time because in the cellar, an aromatic journey through some of the finest wine-producing regions of Slovenia awaits us. Afterwards, in the castle dining hall, we can let ourselves be pampered by an excellent chef who among other delicacies often prefers to serve game or fish. The rustically furnished luxury chambers of this Renaissance castle that host us for the night, carry the records of various noble family members of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, well-known healers, and writers. Small castle windows offer a magnificent view of the picturesque landscapes of the Pannonian plains and the softly shaped hills on the horizon.
DAY TWO: FROM CHAOS TO CAESAR, CYCLING TO A ROYAL PAMPERING
After breakfast in the castle, accompanied by a guide, we head out with the wind in our hair on electric bicycles. The longer we cycle, the more enjoyable is the ride through the wine hills, fields, and banks of the Sava River. The route leads us past Slovenia’s largest natural spa in Čatež. The healing thermo-mineral waters of Slovenia make their way to the surface from depths of more than 1000 metres and then flow as healing water to all the spas of the area. Our destination today is Brežice. In the town’s castle, we will learn about the former power and influence of the families of the Posavje region. The most beautiful is the Viteška dvorana (The Knight’s Hall) where baroque-painted ceilings and walls show the Roman poet Ovid’s various depictions from the chaotic birth of the world to Gaius Julius Caesar. The region around Brežice bore witness to the warring Celts and Romans, the Counts of Celje and international dynasties, as well as historic peasant revolts. At this point of the trip we are looking forward to a delicious lunch on the terrace at Splavar Hotel and some of the best ice cream around. We are now ready for a new scenic cycling route along the backwater of the Sava River which is full of life and the sound of chirping. The protected nature of the basin is home to many birds and deer. Past the interactive energy centre GEN and the only nuclear power plant in Slovenia we arrive in Krško. Along the scenery of the former Trappist vineyards in Sremič we arrive at Hotel Tri Lučke which appears like a lighthouse in the midst of the Gorjanci wine-growing hillsides. A delicious dinner with a fine wine, served next to the oldest wine press in Europe certainly makes for a memorable dining experience.
DAY THREE: FROM THE STRICTNESS OF THE TRAPPISTS TO THE LUXURIES OF THE HOME TOWN OF THE FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES
Still stunned by the night view of the starry sky from the night before, we start the next day following the path of the Trappists who bought Brestanica Castle in the 19th century. This strict and ascetic monastic order is famous for its sustainable lifestyle and the rule that all the food a person needs, they have to produce themselves. But they did know how to make some sinfully delicious delicacies, including their world-famous cheese, chocolate, and beer that is still being made at a few convent breweries in Europe. For the liqueurs and chocolates made by the Posavje Trappists for the Viennese Court, Emperor Francis Joseph awarded them the honorary title Imperial. We reach the Trappist’s home in the castle above the cliff of the Sava River after an adrenaline ride through the tunnel along the former mine railway. Some of the culinary secrets of the Trappists are revealed to us by the Kunej family which is famous throughout Slovenia for its innovative blend of wine and chocolate. In their workshop, we can test our chocolate making abilities according to our taste and have a tasting of their chocolate wine. Then the last bit of our trip to Rajhenburg Castle awaits us with a tour of the interactive Trappist museum which offers us a glimpse into their monastic life and their herb garden. Then after we have had some coffee while enjoying a beautiful view, we continue our journey along the banks of the Sava River to the upper part of Posavje towards Sevnica, the home town of the first lady of the United States. The last of the four castle experiences of Posavje castles awaits us. We stop at a boutique family-run hotel that is famous for its authentic local cuisine. Here they invented the famous Melania cake as a friendly little joke at the expense of Melania’s husband, the current president of the USA. The last Countess of Sevnica had a similar name to one of the most influential ladies in the world so we are going to take a tour through Mathilda’s chambers at Sevnica Castle. Mathilda’s love story is also an interesting one as she charmed the Viennese Court. Full of interesting stories, we are now just waiting for the grand finale. We saved the best for last, because now it is time for the tasting of Blaufränkisch which entered a new era in Sevnica and is now showing all its charms. Finally, we take our bicycles on the train and head back to Brežice. Do you remember the last time you took the train? We believe that on your nostalgic train ride, the spirit of Posavje will stick to you even more.