Events aplenty as Slovenians celebrate St Martin's Day
Ljubljana, 4 November - Festivities will be held throughout this and next weekend as grape juice officially turns into wine on St Martin's Day on 11 November. The holiday is a special occasion for those who make their living exclusively from grape and wine to present their product.
The celebration of St Martin's Day is a symbolic conclusion of the works in vineyards and presentation of winemakers and their must and young wines.
The events are taking place not only in wine-growing areas, but also elsewhere in Slovenia, with various associations and restaurants organising social, ethnologic and sport events.
The bulk of the events will be held at the next weekend, but the celebrations start this weekend in Ljubljana and Koper.
In the Slovenian capital, festivities celebrating wine will be held in the streets on both weekends as part of a festival which will also see a total of 160 winemakers and food producers presenting their products.
It will also be loud on the Slovenian coast, as winemaker Vinakoper will be hosting popular Slovenian and international musicians and other events in its tent throughout the whole week.
The biggest number of visitors is expected in Maribor next Saturday, exactly on St Martin's Day, for the 34th traditional Martinovanje open-air event.
The celebration will see wine queens, folk dancers, peasant women, rafters and representatives of wine orders and brotherhoods walk around the old city centre carrying produce as a symbolical expression of gratitude to the autumn.
Parties will also take place in Ptuj, Slovenia's oldest city, where the wine festival is associated with the carnival known as Kurentovanje.
In Ormož (NE), the holiday will be marked with a traditional St Martin's market, while the events of note in the north-eastern region of Pomurje include a traditional hike starting in Moravske Toplice.
The Kras wine road in south-western Slovenia will be particularly busy as more than a hundred winemakers, a record number, will present themselves as part of a traditional event which promotes local cuisine and culture.
Given the nation's dedication to celebrating St Martin's Day, it is no surprise that Slovenians are third in the EU in terms of annual consumption of wine per capita.
With 43 litres, Slovenians are trailing only Luxembourgish (50 litres) and Portuguese (48), and are well above the EU average of 23.9 litres.
This year's harvest in Slovenia was, however, one of the worst in recent years, as Slovenian vineyards produced around 91.000 tonnes of grape, which is 4.5% less than in 2016 and 15% below the average for the last ten years.
Weather conditions were particularly harsh for red grape sorts, with yield per hectare of vineyard being as much as 20% below the ten-year average.
Exports of Slovenian wines are on an increase, with the figure standing at almost 14 million litres last year. Most of it was exported to Italy, the US, Austria, Croatia and the Netherlands.
Exports to China in particular have been on a surge lately, with the sales more than doubling since 2009 from EUR 91,000 in 2009 to more than EUR 1m in the first seven months of this year alone.
Imports of wine to Slovenia have been on an increase, too, with the country importing last year a total of 13 million litres, of which 85% came from Italy, France Macedonia, Germany and Spain.