Slovenia celebrating St. Martin's Day
Ljubljana, 11 November - Virtually every town in Slovenia's several winemaking regions will be hosting a public celebration on Friday to honour St. Martin's Day, when according to old custom, grape must turns into wine. In homes and restaurants all across the country, people will enjoy a roast goose or duck with braised red cabbage and mlinci, a rehydrated flatbread.
St. Martin's Day marks the symbolic end of work in the vineyard and in many wine cellars a ceremony is performed by a mock priest who baptises the must, turning it to wine.
The public mass celebrations organised today will be the first in three years following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The biggest celebration is organised in Maribor, usually attracting more than 20,000 people.
In the north-east, south and west, the homes of several wine regions, public celebrations will take place in virtually every town.
Some will be town fair-type events, while the bigger will feature concerts by popular musicians such as Alfi Nipič in Ptuj, and Rudi Bučar and Hamo in Koper.
The capital, even though it does not have as rich a winemaking tradition, will also be celebrating St. Martin's Day. Dubbed the Ljubljana Wine Path, the event will allow visitors to sample more than 450 wines as well as traditional dishes while strolling along old town.
Even the Gorenjska region, which literally has no mention-worthy vineyards, will be celebrating St. Martin's Day. Among other things, connoisseurs will be able to go for a wine tasting into the ancient tunnels under Kranj old town.
Apart from the public festivities, a multitude of smaller events, from ethnological to sports events, are organised by various associations, clubs and restaurants during the weekend.
The key to the popularity St. Martin's Day perhaps lies in the popularity of wine among Slovenians. Statistics for last year show that a Slovenian drank an average of 35 litres of wine, of which 66% was white wine. Over two thirds of the vines grown in Slovenia last year were white varieties.
Meanwhile, the preliminary wine production data for this year indicate the vintage will be poorer in quantity compared to a five-year average, but just as good.
Facing the cost-of-living crisis, most winemakers have not yet started to increase prices, also fearing that consumers would simply switch to cheaper wines, usually imported.
However, they are facing serious problems in acquiring production materials, such as bottles, which have not only gotten more expensive but are also in very short supply.