In the beginning, there was a dream. Then, an idea was born. After that, hard work began. Hard work that resulted in Santei wine. We are not looking for shortcuts. We are not looking for quick fixes. We are only interested in the best. We follow nature, we respect tradition. This is our path. We wish you many pleasant moments with our Santei wine!
The year was 2005. Love. Sandra and Matej. Santei. A biologist and a mathematician. A head of sales and a financial manager. A love of nature and an uncontrollable passion for wine. In 2007, we purchased the Santei estate. We shaped our vision to combine the best terroir and the respect for the natural characteristics of the Vipava Valley to offer wine lovers a new, natural and unforgettable wine experience.
Over the next 5 years, we completely renovated the Santei estate, including the 200-year old house. With deep respect for nature, we currently grow 15,000 grapevines at the Santei estate, and we plan to increase the number, as well as the share of indigenous local grapevine varieties in the next 5 years. Our goal is to produce 10,000 bottles of premium quality wine each year. The main grapevine varieties grown at Santei are the local Malvasia, Zelen, Pinela and Rebula. We also grow two French white grape varieties - Sauvignon and Chardonnay. When it comes to red grapes, we mostly grow the French Merlot, although we also have some plants of the local Barbera variety.
VISION AND PRINCIPLES
Our vision is to combine the best terroirs and provide a natural and unforgettable wine experience while respecting the natural characteristics of the Vipava Valley.
These are the principles we follow strictly:
1. We follow organic principles in everything we do
2. The wine matures at the vineyard
3. Wines are produced in a natural way
We follow organic principles in everything we do
We believe in the concept of sustainability. Most of the work at the vineyard - including harvest - is performed manually with respect for nature. It is only this deep respect for nature that allows us to build a sustainable ecosystem. At the same time, this is the only right approach to developing viticulture, oenology and healthy active tourism, all of which add something priceless to the wonderful landscape of Upper Branica.
In our sustainability efforts, we are assisted by nature itself:
The mixing of the Mediterranean and the continental climate, in combination with the bora wind, is specific to the Vipava Valley and greatly influences the production of premium quality grapes. The bora and the cold air from the Nanos plateau keep the ground cold and reduce humidity, which can otherwise cause grapevine diseases, so we are able to work the vine sustainably and in a way that is friendly both to nature and to the consumer.
All our vineyards are built in terraces at the altitudes above 220 meters. The average cant of our vineyards is 25% to facilitate air flow between the vines, drying them quickly, whenever they get wet. At the same time, this makes work at the vineyard more difficult and requires a lower crop load on the grapevines, which is an important factor in the production of premium wine.
The wine matures at the vineyard
We believe in the concept of terroir. A wine can only be great if it is produced from the best grapes and matured at premium wine growing sites. We place great importance on the wine growing tradition, and we believe that the old inhabitants of the Vipava region knew exactly which wine growing locations were the most appropriate for individual grapevine varieties, so we strictly adhere to this tradition. All Santei vineyards are planted at the locations where vineyards already grew in the past. We plant specific varieties at proven locations, where they produce the best results (e.g. Merlot at Brkovče, Rebula at Tamčez, etc.). This is the secret that makes Santei wines unforgettable.
Wines are produced in a natural way
We respect tradition. In our cellar technology, we follow the French school of thought. We use the traditional French wooden press for pressing grapes and utilize no additives in the winemaking process, apart from sulfur, which is added in minimum quantities necessary. The essence of our oenological processes is cleanliness, attention to detail and time, and these factors are accentuated with the premium grapes from our vineyards. We do not rush wine production; every wine needs the time to fully mature in the barrel before it is bottled. Then, wine needs to rest in the bottle for a while, so it can harmonize, before we offer it to our customers.
Traditional oenological processes are adapted to each grape variety and vintage, so we can produce the best wine in a given production year. Santei wines include a line of fresh whites, rosés, a mature cold-macerated white line and a line of mature red wines.
The Santei estate is located in Vipavska brda, the upper, rugged part of the Vipava Valley. Our vineyards are a part of the Upper Branica wine-growing location, which is characterized by specific geo-climatic conditions that enable the production of superior wines. The Branica valley serves as the border between the Kras region and the Vipava Valley and encompasses the upper part of the Branica basin with the southern slopes of the Vipava hills. The ground is composed of the deposits of Eocene flysch, which is characterized by sequences of marlstone, sandy siltstone and coarse-grained carbonaceous sandstone, intertwined by thick and thin layers of breccias and conglomerates. The people from the Vipava region call this ideal wine-growing topsoil “soudan".
Upper Branica has a very specific location, because of the immediate vicinity of the Kras region, so the brown and white clay in the soudan mix with the red soil, typical of the Kras region. It is also characterized by lower temperatures. Our measurements show that the average temperatures are approximately 2 degrees lower than in the rest of the Upper Vipava Valley. This is the result of the Čipnje gorge limiting the inflow of warm Mediterranean air. The geo-climatic specifics of the Upper Branica valley allow the grapes to maintain the appropriate quantity of acids even when fully ripe, which contributes not only to their superior quality, but also to a potentially longer maturing period.
Ever since the classification of the Slovenian wine regions, the Upper Branica valley has been one of only three wine-growing locations in the Upper Vipava Valley. At the time, the term wine-growing location was strictly reserved for wine-growing areas where an exceptional terroir (a combination of topography, geology, climate, tradition and winemaker know-how) enables consistently superior quality yield.
NATURA 2000 IN THE BRANICA VALLEY
In 2004, upon entering the EU, Slovenia designated special protection areas (Natura 2000 areas), which include the Branica river valley. The area also includes the Upper Branica river basin with the southern part of Vipavska brda. This is a feeding area for bats that have their maternity colonies at the Rihemberk castle. The area is covered by protected streams and other water environments, dry grasslands and juniper groves. These are habitats of rare and endangered animals (e.g. Italian agile frog, yellow-bellied toad, Balkan goldenring dragonflies, stag beetle, Morimus funereus, Carabus variolosus Fabricius, etc.). A special characteristic of the Branica valley are also the high-trunk orchards (one is located below the Santei estate). These trees provide a suitable habitat for rare species of birds, such as hoopoe and little owl.
Publication »Natura 2000 v dolini Branice« in Slovenian: www.zrsvn.si/dokumenti/74/2/2012/Natura_Branica_S_3014.pdf
Publication »Natura 2000 in the Branica valley« in English: www.zrsvn.si/dokumenti/74/2/2012/Natura_Branica_angleska_3031.pdf
Short documentary: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYg71g_7xVE