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The view of vineyards from the Gredič terrace, which stretch all the way to the Italian border. Foto: MMC RTV SLO

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The Gredič boutique hotel – from a summer residence castle to the setting of a wine soap opera

12. September 2017 ob 20:44
Dobrovo - MMC RTV SLO

A narrow and winding side road leads to Gredič. The road leading to the blooming lavender in front of the entrance of this boutique hotel goes through the Brda region, passing the vineyards and land owned by Marjan Simčič and Movia. Its exterior is well-known to the wider public, thanks to a popular TV series about the intrigues between wine families.

Although Gredič is one of the more luxurious accommodations you can find in the Goriška Brda region, and despite the hotel’s good start, it has had no luck with ownership issues and its hotel restaurant has had no consistency whatsoever. But now they say that the new young team is setting things right. In March this year, after previous owner Jurij Schollmayer went bankrupt, the Gredič castle was taken over by Simon Simčič from the Medot Homestead, known for its sparkling wines and sailing performances with its Esemit yacht. The new owner has not changed the image of the hotel. Gredič’s main attraction is still the fact that it is a genuine castle, which is especially appreciated by couples who flock to the location to get married.

The castle from the 17th century, with a still preserved shrine inside it, initially served as a summer residence for the aristocracy. It remained inhabited until an earthquake in 1976. In 2011 the building was renovated and adapted into a hotel with a modern, refined and harmonious interior with earthly tones. The design of the interior was the work of Rok Kuhar and Katjuša Kranjc from the Raketa studio. Their aim was to give the castle a modern touch while relying on local materials, such as stone and wood. The seven rooms (including the 120 square meter master suite) are spacious. There is a canopy bed and an upholstered swing hanging from the ceiling. In the living room there is a mini-library with publications about wine, the Brda winegrowers and the nearby culinary institutions. And of course, the view. Fitting to a winegrowing region, there are vineyards as far as your eyes can see - all the way to Italy.

A tour along the trails of the Štorija
If we take all this into account, it comes to no surprise that Gredič and its surroundings were chosen by the creators of the famous TV series Ena žlahtna štorija (One Noble Story), which has been aired in the past couple of years by a Slovenian commercial TV station. Not only did this soap opera prove that a Slovenian production is capable of breaking TV viewing records, it has also presented the Brda region to a whole segment of viewers – with all its good and bad sides. Tourism in the Brda region has taken advantage of the Štorija TV series by selling wine and jam called ‘Ena žlahtna štorija’. However, on the other hand more luxurious places, such as Gredič, do not really know what to do with the often impolite visitors, who come with buses, take the lavender, and want to make picnics on the hotel terrace. In short, the Brda region is probably not prepared for film tours yet.

But let’s go back to the hotel. Guests are greeted by chocolate pralines in the room, its minibar is well stocked with local wine producers, ranging from both of the Simčič families (Marjan and Edi), Blažič, Dolfe and Erzetič. There is also Bollinger champagne - one of the few foreigners in the well-stocked Gredič wine cellar. The cellar is a veritable architectural attraction – a minimalistic underground cathedral à la Le Corbusier, with bare concrete walls, dim lighting and a champagne "chapel". Golden threads, resembling a beam of champagne bubbles, hang from the ceiling, coming from the bottom of a water well above the soil, to a massive degustation table made from a 200-year-old oak. One wall is built from stone from the nearby Movia vineyard. The vinothèque boasts 600 different wines, with an emphasis on the local Brda wines. The prices are the same as at the winemakers.

The castle’s cuisine
The hotel tries to bring the red thread of prestige into its restaurant, which was quite esteemed under the baton of Mr. Schollmayer, at the time when Italian master chef Cristian Avenanti was there. Even though he was later replaced by a young local hope, Adi Blaško, critics still left Gredič mostly satisfied. The kitchen has now been taken over by a local from Nova Gorica, David Bucik, who was previously a chef in the Paquito casino restaurant for 20 years. Bucik is devoted to cuisine and his tattoos give proof of this – on one side a chef’s hat and forks, on the other the inscription: "Follow directions when cooking". Bucik claims he has been given a carte blanche, but it nevertheless seems that the 42-year-old, rather than serving food close to his personal, recognizable style, occasionally tries to serve that which, according to him, is expected in such an elevated environment (truffles, although in the unimpressive form of truffle oil).

Time will tell whether the new Gredič team will last longer than its predecessors. It would certainly be a pity to lose a facility such as this one. It is impossible to find a free room in the Brda region during the summer weekends, and romantic old castles are still more appropriate for this type of countryside than the soulless hotel behemoths. Even more so if their offer matches the (relatively high) price.

Kaja Sajovic; translated by K. J.