One of the fascinating stories that invite you to the Open Villages is the path of Borut Leban and his wine from amphorae. From an early age, Borut and his father Vili learned the secrets of making good wine. As a businessman, after several years of moving away from nature, he decided to do something for his soul again and started creating his own wine. The story and the journey of wine in amphorae began a good ten years ago.
“I would like to present my way of thinking and approach to viticulture and winemaking to the guest who visits us. I want to see wines that ripen in a completely natural way and can be better, also healthier than those produced with the help of oenological products" says Leban about his view of orange wines, which are currently maturing in his cellar in four amphorae.
Abroad, orange wines, which are characterized by prolonged maceration on grapes, are highly valued, and only a few people in Slovenia know and understand them. “There has been a lot of macerated wines on the market in recent years, but users who are not sufficiently educated often look down on them. This is also why my goal is to produce and present healthy and good wine, without mistakes. I can honestly say that I am succeeding.”
"The production of wines in amphorae is not a newly invented story, as it is a more than 9000-year-old method that comes from Georgia. Even our grandparents, who made wine the old-fashioned way, used a similar procedure when they let the wine ferment on the berries. Of course, they did not use amphorae but large wooden barrels instead. And I found it interesting to take this story forward, only to use amphorae. They are something interesting, different, for many people also something new. At the same time, I do not deviate from the proven production process. My father, who has been involved in winemaking for many years, also made excellent one-year-old wine.” But Borut upgraded the knowledge he got from his father through self-education. “There is no real school for orange wines. Finding your own line to make wines different from others is an art. There are also a lot of wrong decisions that you learn from, of course. Today I can say that I have managed to make wines that I am proud of. And I also want to present this story to the guests who will visit us as part of the Open Villages. "
The first wine was produced by Borut Leban in 2009 from an old family vineyard. Although organic wines have a higher price due to the demanding production process without the use of oenological agents, the family does not live from the sale. It is still primarily about exchanging precious moments of socializing over a glass of top-notch drops from the home cellar. And this one is worth a visit, because it is really something special. “When we started building the wine cellar, we didn’t yet have an exact vision of what style it would be. Definitely something suitable for amphorae, something old. All the wood we used in the construction is more than 200 years old.” At the top of the basement stands a family-friendly modern swimming pool, which was built a few years ago. As the wine cellar was not sufficiently lit by a small window, a window to the pool was made on the ceiling in the part intended for socializing. The light that comes through the pool into the room is really something special.
In addition to the pool, they have built a platform with a modern bioclimatic pergola this year, they intend to make an even smaller residential building in the future. They all work on their own, so the ideas and design also express the taste of the host. And this is the added value that the Leban family, Borut, wife Nataša and their three children, Pia, Kaja and Enej, offer to the guests of Open Villages.
In 2020, they planted two new vineyards promising great success in the future. Grapes are picked late, at the end of September, beginning of October, which can sometimes be very risky due to the weather, especially due to precipitation. “Rain can bring about rotting that we can’t control because we don’t use any preservatives.” In addition to Malvasia, a variety typical of the area, Borut mixes ribolla and chardonney into his cuve. “I’m still testing, I have new versions where the base is sauvignon. I am present on the market with three different wines, and two new varieties are maturing in the cellar, two new cuvees. Currently cuve from chardonney, rebula and malvasia, the other is a blend of suauvignon, malvasia and ribolla. Particularly varied is the red wine, which is a cuve made of cabarnet sauvignon and merlot.”
With the planting of new vineyards, the amount will increase, as interest in Leban's wines is also growing. "We currently produce 2,500 bottles a year, my intention is to come to 10,000 bottles in 5 years, but by no means to 100,000" as he is targeting quality over quantity. He says with a laugh that from the point of view of great winemakers, his is currently a “garage business. The profession would call it a boutique. And wines are not the same every year. They differ by year, which is the greatest charm and result of the combined work of the winegrower and nature. "