At the top of a hill, somewhere between Fier and Lushnje sits the Albanica Winery, home to the Prifti family, a small guesthouse, kantina, and vast vineyards.
To reach your destination, you have to drive up a winding hill, pass through a forest, and cross a small ridge before you descend to the winery which offers stunning views of the plain below and the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
If you cast your eyes over the hill, you can see the tip of the Ardenica Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox monastery dating from 1282. This is the place where in 1451, Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg married Adnronika Arianiti. It was this fact that saved it from being razed to the ground during the communists’ anti-religious campaign that saw countless religious sites destroyed.
As soon as we got out of the car, we felt a mixture of the hot sun and the cool wind whipping from the coast. We received a warm welcome from Dritan and were shepherded inside and handed a generous glass of Albanica white wine.
Dritan has lived in the UK for over 20 years where he worked in construction. Like many who leave, he couldn’t resist the sound of his home country calling him. After purchasing the land that is now occupied by vines in 2006, he returned every summer to tend to them. Then in 2019, he decided to swap the grey, wet, days of Slough for the long, balmy seasons of Albania. He packed up and returned to open a small guest house, a restaurant, and to dedicate himself to the finer things in life- wine and good food.
Tired and hungry after our long journey, we sat ourselves down in the restaurant and tucked into a veritable feast. We dined on bruschetta with peppers and tomatoes, preserved beetroots with hummus, grilled homemade sausages, yoghurt with olives and oil, and giant hunks of still-warm homemade bread.
The accompanying wine slipped down a little too easily and we sat back to enjoy the crescendo of reds, purples, and yellows as the sun set over the sea.
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Had a lovely weekend spent at @albanicawine @winealbanica we enjoyed delicious homegrown food, a superb selection of wine, beautiful surroundings and a warm welcome from the Prifti family. I highly recommend! #albania #albaniatourism #albanianlife #albanianculture #albaniantravlel #albaniantravelblogger #albanianplaces #visitalbania #albaniaisbeautiful #albaniamakesyouhappy
The absolute crowning glory of our delicious dinner was a leg of pork that had been roasted in the oven for a total of six hours. The taste was just phenomenal and it fell off the bone and into my mouth with considerable ease. It was easily some of the best-cooked meat I have had here.
Everything was fresh, grown by the Prifti families’ fair hands, and cooked the homemade way. Unable to eat any more and saving some room for more wine, we made our way to a small seating area near our room.
There, we sat with Dritan and sampled raki infused with basil (it was incredible in case you were wondering), and a bottle of the best rose I have ever had. A dark pink merlot rose, it tasted of plums and summer.
The air was thick with the buzz and chirp of insects and as night fell, we heard two separate packs of jackals howling mournfully into the heavy summer night.
After our fill of wine, conversation, and listening to the various wildlife in the forest around us, we retired to our room. With a double bed, built-in wardrobe, and a spacious shower and bathroom, it was decorated tastefully and was extremely comfortable.
The next morning, I woke with a somewhat fuzzy head- something that was quickly remedied by coffee, sausages, eggs, cheese, bread, and jams. We then spent some hours under the gazebo, drinking the fresh air, playing with the Pritfi family dog ‘Jessie’, and letting our daughter run around and munch on fresh grapes.
Albanica Winery is the perfect place to spend one or two nights if you really want to feel like you are disconnected from the outside world. Incredibly peaceful and serene, surrounded by nature, and with wonderful food and wine on demand, quite honestly I am not sure what else you would possibly want from life.
There is limited accommodation so be sure to book beforehand. They have a baby seat, parking, WiFi, and you can enjoy 24 hours all-inclusive for two (and a baby) for just over EUR 50. And as for the wine, they export half of the years produce to Germany and the rest is sold solely in the restaurant. That means, if you want to try the outstanding rose, you have to go and visit!