Golden Hill: The fairytale Slovenian ‘Tuscany’

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Golden bird, golden apple, golden ring… I equate the adjective ‘golden’ with fairytales, this is why saying YES, is an obvious choice. Although I had no idea where in Slovenia this golden river flows, I immediately envisioned something sunny and magical. I’m excited that I found a piece of ‘tuscany’ this close to home… sunny, full of hills, green and serene. Rich in culinary. With views that fill your heart, and activities that empty your brain… Zlati Grič (Golden Hill).

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It didn’t even occur to me that behind the first hill in Slovenia, lie these beautiful and adventurous places.

OUR ROUTE: Ljubljana – Celje – Charterhouse Žiče – Slovenske Konjice – Zlati Grič

GREAT COMPANY: Small children add a different meaning to the word fairytale… Fairytale coffee is near the children’s playgrounds, a fairytale getaway, on a deckchair by the pool with a water slide. At first a trip to the vineyard hills with your children seems like a big #NoGo… how will I attend the wine tasting in peace, what will we even get to do when we get there?! But the Zlati Grič slogan is rightfully the ‘treasury of adventures’. Thus it doesn’t really matter whether you decide to explore it alone, in a duet, with a group of friends, colleagues, or your family. I’m sure, either way will make you wish this fairytale never ends.


CHAPTER ONE: Charterhouse Žiče

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This is a place where time moves slowly, and the energy flows intensely.

I first came to know this place at a Wedding celebration, and artistically captured it by photographing a fashion story, experienced  by attending a Herb day, and tasted it on a walk #justlikethat. It always moves me with it’s mighty, simple and ‘strict’ architecture squeezed inside a small narrow valley of St. Janez Krstnik. And the peace and quiet, that makes me call to Ljubljana and whisper…. “Listen to this silence!!!”. The smells coming from one of the oldest preserved restaurants in Middle Europe, the Gastuž restaurant (1467), also completely captivate me. The Kartuzian droplets from the Pleterje Monastery, are very well known, but Charterhouse Žiče also has some excellent ones. In the Otokar cellar, which is named after the founder of this Charterhouse, ripens to about 60.000 bottles of white and rosé sparkling wine of Zlati Grič.

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Tidy, as if the monks cared for the monastery just yesterday, and empty, like nobody stepped in it in years.

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Beautiful, mighty, simple, and ‘strict’ Charterhouse architecture.

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The benches seem to be inviting me to listen to the silence.

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Charterhouse Žiče is hiding a secret herbal garden…

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… and the Otokar wine cellar, where the sparkling Golden Hill wine is ripening.

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I gently stroke the beauties that have been resting here for almost three years.

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And with respect, I give a taste to the Konjiška sparkling wine, which is made in the classical ‘chamed’ way…

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… which means that there will be no hangover tomorrow. No, I didn’t drink it all by myself ;).

A TREAT FOR THE CHILDREN

Traditional Slovenian culinary, excellent droplet of sparkling wine, and relaxing surroundings… but where is the playground? I earn my five minutes by the telling of a tale about how Charterhouse Žiče came to be, and a game that follows after that…

“In the year 1147, the Emperor Konrad, Duke Friderik and count Otokar the 3rd, attended the Križarska war. After returning from the war, Otokar wished to take a rest from the worries, so he and his fellow noble men, went on a hunt on the Konjiška mountain. He went astray from the other huntsmen and came to some shadowy pit on the south side of the mountain, where he spotted an extraordinarily white deer. As he chased the beautiful animal…” Read the continuation here.


STOP GAME

Hide the treasure of Otokar’s hare, by the walls of Charterhouse Žiče. The walls are actually following the land, which was available for construction, so it will make the searching quite stretched across it. Imagine how tired the kids will be after running from one hideout to the other ;).

CHAPTER TWO: A Golf course amongst the Škalce vineyards

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A Golf playground with a beautiful view of the Škalce hills.

A walk amongst the vineyard of the hilled Škalce is quite charming. To the important numbers in Golf of Zlati Grič (9 playgrounds, the whole 2448 meters of them and (par 36?)) I add one more…325 points with a wonderful view ;). The Golf playground is incredibly stretched across the ground and completely encircled with vineyards, as part of it’s natural environment, the playing fields  variate by the stream, that runs through the middle of the playground, the water obstacles, the woods and the bushes.

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Our Golf teacher, a national mid-amateur champion mr. Jani Šribar, that explained the game and equipment to me.

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Game of technique or style ;)?

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A moment of concentration…

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It looks like I will at least hit the ball ;).

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The house near the practise grounds, has a beautiful old patina.

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Golf club trellis for the winner.

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The droplet of Golden Hill after the first match.

A TREAT FOR THE CHILDREN
If I speculate by the fact of how Amalja and Bela are excited when it comes to mini Golf, then it would absolutely be interesting to them to try playing Golf. As a mother I would recommend learning to play this game because: 

  • It’s played outside, away from the computer and cellphones.
  • It develops a sense of responsibility (You can blame anyone for if you miss the hole).
  • It teaches to control feelings. Much like real life, this game has ups and downs, which you have to face on the way to success.
  • It teaches to act ethically. There is no referee, and the players act respectful and responsible. (It’s obvious that the game originated in England ;)).
  • The entire family can participate. Everyone plays, it doesn’t depend on how much you know the game.

STOP GAME

There are also playing fields, within assembly of the golf playground, where playing lessons are organised, which include lessons for children and the youth in general. The lessons can start early through playing and tasks, where the children learn about the basic movements in Golf and associate them with the game.

CHAPTER THREE: Golden Hill vine cellar

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Wine coloured details that I’m fond of ;).

I’m not sure what Ivan Minatti chose at the end, but I’m sure his fellow citizen Sašo Topolšek, the main Oenologist of Zlati Grič, chose wine. His love for the vineyard can be felt through his explanation about the project of renovating the wine cellar, and the wine that is produced there.

“Anyone can try making wine, but only the people who do it with love, respect and knowledge, can produce the sophisticated droplet, that will also please others. When we drink wine, we have to envision how much love, free time and effort (sweat) is put into that droplet, so that it becomes what it is.”
And the Konjiška sparkling wine (white as well as rose) produced in the traditional method, with a minimum ripening time of three years in the Otakar cellar, is truly good. The base for the white sparkling wine is the white pinot, and for the rose, the modre frankinje wines. The speciality of this sparkling wine is that as the wine separates from the sediments, no further liqueur is added. This way all of the preciousness of the wine is reflected by the base wine and the boiling of alcohol in the bottle. Tiny gold bubble chains, rich scents of fruit and white florals, that slowly progress in to the smell of biscuits, bread crust and lovely spices… if you know me, then there’s no doubt you understand what I was experiencing… sparkling wine is one of my favourite drinks.

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The Golden Hill wine cellar is one of the most modern wine cellars in Europe. It’s architecture is designed to mimic and follow the natural shape of the hill that it’s built in.

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Picture perfect XXL wine barrels.

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And even prettier oak wine barrels.

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Mr. Sašo Topolšek, the main oenologist ofGolden Hill, serves the first glass with pride.

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Satisfied by my shopping in the Golden Hill wine cellar store.

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A beautiful view from the wine tasting area of Golden Hill wine cellar.

TREAT FOR THE CHILDREN

The Zlati Grič wine cellar also produces a fantastic natural apple juice from Štajerska apples, with no added sugars or preservatives. After the apples are pressed, the juice doesn’t get filtrated. Instead after the sediments naturally layers on the bottom, the juice is pured into bottles and gets pasteurizated. It’s protected by the brand SADNO, which assures great quality.

STOP GAME:

Young, future sommeliers will dip their tongues into the apple juice with great pleasure, and learn the basics about tasting drinks.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Grič Inn

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A table with a view. Every one of them in The Hill has it.

I ended the fairytale under a bushy cherry tree in the front garden of The Grič Inn. An extraordinary panoramic view of the Škalce’s naturally beautiful vineyards and Golf courses, could only be interrupted by the wonderful, good smelling and delicious plate of homemade goodies and a truly great wine droplet. Mmmmm.

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Are you drooling yet?

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A symphony of colour and taste on the vegetarian plate.

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Beautiful contrasts.

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A pathway that leads from the Hill Inn, to the apartments of the vineyard mansion.

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The vineyards in Škalce, that fill up the bottles of Golden Hill.

 

TREAT FOR THE CHILDREN:

For the full bellies and the tiredness of parents, there is a vineyard mansion from the 15th century, that invites you rest and look at the breathtaking vineyards, golf courses and a modern wine cellar.

STOP GAME:

Are you also intrigued by this wonderful piece of Slovenia? Have you had the chance to get to know it before? What about the wines and sparkling wines of Zlati Grič?

Waving and toasting (cheers!),

Nika

This post is also available in: Slovenian

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