The Slovene word "brda" means "hills," and that is the simplest description of the Brda area: a region of low rounded hills in the western part of Slovenia bordering Italy. The area is frequently referred to as Goriska Brda because the largest town in the area is Gorica (Gorizia). In precise ampelographic terms, the general area with its uniform geological and climatic environment along the Slovene-Italian border is subdivided into three sub-areas: western Brda (which is in Italy and is therefore known as Colli Orientali, DOC Collio, that is, the "eastern hills," since for Italians this area lies to the east); Goriska Brda, the winegrowing hills to the northwest of Gorica; and Osrednja ("Middle") Brda, between the Idrijca and Reka rivers, the least productive of the three. The latter two sub-areas constitute the Brda winegrowing region of Slovenia.
The soils of the area are mostly marl, shale, and sandstone in alteration (flysch). The relief is low, with gently rounded hills flowing southwest into the Friulian plains. The hills are very prone to erosion, so most of the vineyards must be terraced. The climate is Mediterranean although the area has no direct contact with the coast, but the rainfall here is much more abundant than on the coast itself; summers are moderately hot.
Vineyards on upper slopes are planted horizontally with wide terraces, each typically supporting two or more rows of vines. The space between rows is weeded, but a wide swath of grass is usually left to grow on the edge of each terrace to prevent erosion. The terraces are less wide on lower slopes, sometimes with grass growing throughout the rows. Only vineyards in the valleys are completely weeded - these are rare but nevertheless possible since the gentle relief admits enough sunshine all the way to the bottom of most valleys.
Of all the Slovene winegrowing areas, Goriska Brda has had the highest "per hectare yield" of medals and awards from wine fairs and exhibition in the last two decades. The characteristic white wines of the area are gentle, harmonious, fresh, and lively; they generally age well. The best-known white wines of the area are the dry Briski Tokaj (a variety of Toccai Friulano), with its characteristic almond taste and subtle flowery fragrances; the polite Beli Pinot; the strong Sauvignon with its harmony of aromas; dry Chardonnay which reaches its peak with barrique treatment; Sivi Pinot with its long tradition, known on the Italian side as Pinot Grigio; and Malvazija. Perhaps the most characteristic wine of the area is Zlata ("Golden") Rebula.
The best red wines of this sub-area are Cabernet Frank, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot - wines with rich and strong pigments that age particularly well - and Modri Pinot, a particularly elegant wine with its stressed extract.
The best known blended wine of the area is the white Brisko vino, a dry white blend of Rebula and Tokaj.
The Brici - the Slovene term for inhabitants of Brda - produce and store most of their wine at the Dobrovo winery, the largest production cellar in Slovenia. The area also has a number of private growers who produce exquisite wines in small batches. The Bagueri wines in their elegant black bottles are widely famous, and the Movia Chardonnay Barrique is probably the best white barrique-type wine of the area - but with close competition from Scurek, Dolfo, and other producers.
The Dobrovo cellar also boasts the largest local wine archive that regularly stores some 300,000 bottles of their best vintages. Zlata Rebula is the most precious wine in store; most of the older bottles are Merlot and Tokaj. This is the only archive in Slovenia that regularly ages Tokaj and offers the best example of how much this wine can improve with age. The Dobrovo archive also stores extraordinary vintages of Beli Pinot, Sauvignon, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and wines up to thirty years old are still on regular sale in the archive shop.