Besides Grébovka in Prague, there are seven additional wine-growing regions covering a total of eleven hectares: They are called St. Klára and Sabatka in the Trojá district, Máchalka in Prague’s Vysočany, Baba in Prague-Dejvice, Svatojánská in Prague’s Lesser Town and Arcibiskupská in Prague’s Modřany. St. Wenceslas, a small but well-known wine area, is located on the eastern slope of Prague Castle.
“Czech wine is all the rage,” says winemaker Jan Sůra. “It has been doing very well for a number of years.” Czech wine is quite progressive. Rationalization and new farming methods make the vines fertile year after year. “The viticulture on the steep slopes protects the mountains from erosion, not least because the local mountains are worth preserving,” says the winemaker from Prague-Dejvice. He is committed to extensive agriculture that produces quality rather than quantity. “Our mission is to use fewer pesticides and fertilizers and thus get fewer but better yields.”
However, there are relatively few of these good grapes grown in the Czech Republic. When the country entered the European Union in 2004, quantitative limits were placed on the Czech winemakers. The reason for this measure is obvious: With EU membership, growing areas could no longer be expanded, as there is plenty of wine in the world. Millions of litres of wine flood the European market every year. More than a quarter will not be drunk. In the Czech Republic, however, too little wine is produced. Wine consumption amounts to approximately 45 percent from domestic production; more than half of the wine consumed, therefore, is imported from overseas.
The Czechs are taught in primary school that Charles IV was not the only one to bring wine to Bohemia. The history of winemaking in Moravia and Bohemia dates back much further. Most likely, it was the Roman legions under the reign of Marcus who brought the vines here. In what is now Moravia, Roman viticulture dates back to the third century. This was confirmed when excavating the archaeological remains near Milukov and Olomouc. The vineyards began to expand in the time of the Great Moravian Empire during the 9th and 10th centuries. Then, some 800 years later, war and the onset of the industrial revolution meant that many vineyards lay dormant and were no longer farmed. Only in the second half of the 20th century did modern cultivation methods ensure a renewed upsurge of viticulture in the Czech Republic. Today, around 20,000 hectares of Czech land is devoted to growing grapes, 95 percent of which is in Moravia. This fact testifies to the relative rarity of winegrowing in Bohemia. There is no rivalry among the Prague growers, in Sůra’s opinion, but there is real rivalry among the Moravian wine producers. “The Moravians believe that we can’t produce decent wine. They couldn’t be more wrong!”