The short answer: pinela is a white local, or autochthonous wine grape, grown almost exclusively in Slovenia’s Vipava Valley district and (possibly) in Italy’s Friuli where it’s called Pinella. (The absolute verdict is still out though on whether these are the same grape.)
First mentioned in 1324 in the Catalogo delle varietà delle vitis del Regno Veneto, a listing of grapes in Veneto in the eastern Italy, it nearly disappeared in areas of present-day Slovenia where it was particularly susceptible to frost, mold and rot. It does best in lean marl soils at altitudes higher than 150m above sea levels with ample sun.
Often used in blends, it began to appear more widely in varietal bottlings about two decades ago. Pinela wine is light lemon or yellowish in color, with a gentle floral and peachy bouquet and ample citrus notes on the palate with a medium finish. It’s dry, moderate in alcohol, generally crisp and fresh and at its best in its youth. Currently about 50 hectares (123 acres) are being cultivated in Slovenia’s Vipava district.
A limited number of winemakers also produce it as an orange-style extended skin contact wine.
The village of Planina nad Ajdovsčino, in the center of the Vipava district just north of the Karst plateau, is generally acknowledged as the area where the best Pinela is produced. A festival celebrating the grape takes place there each Easter Monday.
If it is the same grape in Friuli, note that it’s also called Pinello, Mattozza, Pinla, and Vipaka.