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Introducing Goriška Brda

Goriška Brda, the hilly wine region, starts in Dobrovo, 13km to the northwest of Nova Gorica. The Renaissance-style Dobrovo Castle, dating from 1606, has a dozen rooms spread over three floors filled with elegant period furnishings and exhibits on the wine industry. In the cellar there is a vinoteka where you can sample the local vintages (white rebula and chardonnay or the pinot and merlot reds), with cheese and pršut (dry-cured ham).

More than 100 wineries offer tastings in Goriška Brda (always call ahead). The enormous Vinska Klet Goriška Brda, which is just down the hill from the castle, has the largest wine cellar in Slovenia. Another recommended winery is Erzetič, 4km to the north.

This area has been under the influence of northern and central Italy since time immemorial. One good example is Šmartno (San Martino; population 220), a pretty little fortified village with stone walls and a 16th-century tower, which now contains a gallery. Visit Brda House for an idea of what life was like in medieval Brda.