Podravje, also known as Drava, is the largest wine-producing region of Slovenia. It is by far the most important region in terms of overall production, and accounts for 50 percent of the nation’s wine output. 97% of all wine produced in Podravje is white wine.
As the largest Slovenian wine region, it is subdivided into 7 different districts. The most densely planted vineyards are located near the eastern town of Maribor, as well as in three river valleys: the Pesnica, Drava and Mura river valleys. The Radgona-Kapela wine district was the first-ever Slovenian district to produce sparkling wines using the méthode champenoise, back in 1852.
The most popular grape varietals in Podravje are Riesling (including Rhine Riesling and Welschriesling), Traminec (Gewürtztraminer), Rizvanec (Müller-Thurgau), Sivi Pinot (Pinot Gris) and Beli Pinot (Pinot Blanc).
Overall, there are 28,000 wineries in Slovenia. As in Podravje, the focus is on creating white wines, primarily for domestic consumption. However, in the past 25 years, ever since Slovenia won its independence from the former Yugoslavia, there has been a renewed focus on reaching export markets. Currently, the leading export markets for Slovenian wine include the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
There are three distinct influences on Slovenian wine – Italian, German and French. Western parts of Podravje are more strongly influenced by the Italian tradition, while eastern parts of Podravje are more strongly influenced by the German tradition. Since Riesling is the dominant grape varietal in Podravje, it’s clear to see the German influence at work.