The founder of Burja, Primoz Lavrenčič is a frontrunner for sustainable, organic wines in Slovenia’s Vipava Valley. Burja wines are created according to biodynamic principles and with the utmost respect for the land. These are wonderfully honest and pure natural wines, made with minimum intervention, yet masterfully crafted.
Burja vineyards are located in northern Slovenia, in Vipava Valley, along the northern Adriatic coast. This area has a long history of winemaking. Vines have been grown here since the times of Illyrian and Celtic tribes which settled on this land in the 4th-3rd Centuries BC. From the Roman times and up until these days, Vipava is the most famous wine region of Slovenia.
The Lavrenčič family have been making wine in Vipava Valley for three generations. In 2009, Primoz Lavrenčič inherited some land and founded his own wine project, Burja. The winery was named after the ferocious ‘Burja’ wind which, to a certain extent, defines agricultural traditions of the region. In winter months, the gusts of Burja can reach up to 240 km/h.
From the very start, Primoz saw his mission in connecting modern wine knowledge with winemaking traditions of Vipava valley. Primoz follows organic and biodynamic principles, creating wines with a deep connection to this land.
From Vines To Wines
Burja Estate encompasses just over 7 hectares of vineyards, located about 40 km east of the Italian border. Utmost respect for the land is at the core of Burja. All vineyards are organically certified and treated according to biodynamic principles.
As Primoz puts it, ‘the soil here is so complex, I think even at the end of my life I’ll die stupid – no matter how hard I try to understand it. But biodynamics is a way to try to approach this understanding.’
Formed somewhat 50 million years ago, the local soil is predominantly fine-grained marlstone, containing tiny rock fragments with traces of ancient marine organisms. It is a heavy type of soil which retains moisture longer and more easily.
The grape varieties are traditional for Vipava Valley: Zelen, Refošk (Refosco), Rebula (Ribolla Gialla), Malvasia d`Istria and a few others. Some of Burja wines are fascinating field blends of local, international and unidentified grapes.
Needless to say that the winemaking approach is as natural as it can be. The only things Primoz controls are the temperature and the oxidation. Rest is conditioned by nature. All Burja wines undergo a wild fermentation with no additives apart from a tiny amount of sulphur, added just before bottling. Winemaker believes that the diversity of yeast strains contributes to the complexity of the wine and provides original expression of each vineyard.
Vipava Valley has one of the oldest documented traditions of skin-contact winemaking. In 1844, local priest, Matija Vertovec, wrote a book called Vinoreja za Slovence (Winemaking for Slovenians). In this book, he not only recommends skin macerations ‘from 24 hours to 30 days’, but also talks about ‘the old Vipava method’ of using a week’s skin contact for white grapes. Primoz follows this tradition and keeps the white grapes on the skins for extended periods of time, adding more complexity and personality to the white wines. Burja Bela is their flagship skin-contact wine – a beautiful, complex orange wine which has won multiple international awards.