Who started the viticulture?

Wine-growing existed in this area long before Romans brought their knowledge and wine culture. Japodes were ancient Illyrian tribe, that already grew vineyards when Rome banished them around 35 BC.

400 BC

All roads lead to Rome

However, Romans were the first to turn viticulture into science. Vinica originates from Latin word for wine, Vinitum, and the language was spoken by Romans. This is the evidence, that Vinica was fundamentally connected with this traditional beverage. Romans lived in this area until the 4th century, and they left interesting cultural heritage. In the photo, we can see Mitrej, a temple in nature that can today be seen in the forest not far away from the castle.

35 BC

First historical source

The first written archival record of medieval Vinica. That year, Katarina Žoveška brought Vinica, a modest settlement that was huddled next to a castle of the same name, as a dowry to Konrad Turjak. The castle was built on the remains of a previous Roman fort, however, it got the whole shape in the 15th century.


grad vinica, kapela, bela krajina

The Chapel of St. Catharine

The architecture of the chapel indicates, that it was built in 14 century. Noble family Semenič was the owner of the land, and later in 1469 provided it for defense tower. The sources claim, that a narrow part of the chapel was used as a prison cell in a certain time. Towards the end of the 18th century, the chapel lost its cult character, and it began to be used as a wine cellar. Today it is waiting for the renovation.



Turks came from the south and attacked White Carniola for the first time. It was the beginning of 200 years period of constant attacks. White Carniola was forced to establish defense zones on several fortresses along Kolpa river. Turks harassed this area in their robbery hikes, among which the vineyards were also repeatedly destroyed.


The greatest attack

According to Valvasor, the Turks ``ravaged the local area into a most deplorable state and revealed themselves as despicable Scythians that they were.`` After that, the authorities made a plan on building the defense tower.


grad vinica, kapela, slovenija, vino

Defense tower above the chapel

There are two panels above the entrance to the chapel, that can be seen today. The smaller one has the engraved the year 1556 in Glagolitic script. On the larger panel, there is a male head, which might be Jesus, and on the right side year 1472, that indicates the tower construction. According to some sources, the tower was built following the instructions of the priest Graham.



Why is this important for Vinica? Sailors brought several pests from America, that our land was not adapted to. One of those was a grape bug (phylloxera), that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines. Eventually, it cuts off the flow of nutrients and water to the vine, which causes devastated vineyards. In Slovenia, the surface of vineyards reduced from 80,000 hectares to about 24,000 in the next few centuries.



Sources often do not distinguish between Vinica Square and Vinica as a castle feudal outpost. The market inside the walls had 23 houses, some gardens, a tower, and a large field, and outside the walls, there were another 14 houses and several gardens and fields.


How do we know the image of a former castle?

Johann Weikhard Freiherr von Valvasor was the main author for older Slovenian history, and the first one to draw and describe a castle. In his best-known work Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, he also described wines, saying, that there are many vineyards in Metlika, Črnomelj, Vinica and in the surrounding area. Wines from those vineyards give incredibly strong and smooth wines, that after three or four years burn as a brandy.



A teacher Franjo Lovšin came to Vinica and founded a reading room, agricultural cooperative and fire brigade. On his initiative, the locals began to restore the vineyards in 1895.


The letter

One of the most interesting historical sources is a letter that was found in the wall of the castle during the renovation, dated back to 1911, that says amongst other: “About 400 years ago, Mr. Simonič was ruling this place, and several credible witnesses confirmed, that he caught almost 500 Turks and put them alive in the so-called main tower``.



Vinica inhabitants proclaimed The independent Republic of Vinica on April 21. The reason laid in the conflict created by the stamping of the money. Armed Forces suppressed the dangerous movement after three days.



After the disintegration of old Yugoslavia, in April 1941, the Italian army seized Vinica and locked it in barbed wire. Vinica experienced some hostile attacks during this time.
After the war, Vinica tried to focus on tourism.


Grad Vinica, prenova, vinoteka, hotel

Rebirth of Vinica Castle

In 2014 a company MIRAG INVEST, owned by Maxim and Ivan, bought the castle from Mihelič family and started the project of renovation. A team of experts managed to renovate the castle in only a few months. Designers, architects, construction workers, carpenters, electricians, ceramists, archeologists, and many others contributed their accomplish the impossible mission. Part of the fundings was obtained through public tender Pokolpje.


Boutique tourism with unique wine experience

Vinica Castle offers three rooms with 4*, where tourists can enjoy natural surroundings and unique cultural features of White Carniola. The vinery & lounge bar is open for daily visitors, that also have a chance to celebrate their special occasions in a royal atmosphere.


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