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ŠKODA cars and wine – a combination one would ordinarily avoid – are great reasons to visit the Czech Republic. They play an important role for Bohemia and Moravia and are gaining more and more prestige – not only in Europe, but also overseas. In addition to draught beer, Bohemian wine is now more popular than ever. It is no surprise then that even the Czech capital is surrounded by romantic vine-covered hills. Prague’s traditional wine festivals take place in September.

Day after day, winemaker Pavel walks past his cultivated fruits and inspects the vines. He pulls out a few weeds scattered around the loose soil, so that the water covers the ground evenly. The winemaker has dedicated his life to his passion – wine. He is captivated by his work; the green carpet of manicured vines in Vinohrady, the district that appropriately means ‘vineyards’. 

This is where the Czech panorama for wine lovers extends – a steep slope on which vines rise up as if they were suspended on strings. The vineyard is densely planted: While around 4,000 vines are usually planted on one hectare, twice as many are located in Havlíčkův Sady Park. There are approximately 12,500 vines on a total area of 1.5 hectares. 

In summer, winemaker Pavel hopes for heat and a few heavy rain showers and thunderstorms to provide the necessary irrigation. Sometimes his grapes get so much sun that the sugar in the berries is so high and the acidity so low that the must needs to be acidified afterwards, as in southern Europe. 

Czech wine was long underestimated but is now in vogue. Just as ŠKODA’s cars: Within a quarter century, ŠKODA has evolved from a regional manufacturer into a dynamic automotive manufacturer on the international stage. Czech white wines have been more than a match for the competition since the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

The geographical conditions give the wines a very wide range of aromas and flavours. One example of this is the Sauvignon variety, which in its place of origin – Bordeaux – is one of the non-aromatic varieties. The harsher growing conditions of the grapevines in the Czech Republic give the wine a more intense flavour and fruitiness. 

Czech wine was long underestimated but is now
in vogue. Just as ŠKODA’s cars.

Winemaker Pavel from Vinohrady
In addition to draught beer, Bohemian wine is now more popular than ever. It is no surprise then that even the Czech capital is surrounded by romantic vine-covered hills.
In addition to draught beer, Bohemian wine is now more popular than ever. It is no surprise then that even the Czech capital is surrounded by romantic vine-covered hills.

Czech wine is all the rage

Winemaker Jan from Dejvice
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 (photo), 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.
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 (photo), 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.

“The vineyard Grébovka has been located in Havlíčkův Sady Park for over 100 years. In recent decades, the slopes have been used more intensively than ever before”, says winemaker Pavel from Vinohrady, looking towards the slope below Gröbe Villa in Vinohrady. The property was built in 1871. Moritz August Gröbe commissioned Anton Barvitius to build the neo-renaissance three-story building. In order to plant the vines below, Gröbe used the earth taken from the excavation of the railway tunnel in Prague Nusle. After Gröbe’s death, a winemaking company acquired the estate and turned it into community property. Today an American corporation, which trains lawyers, resides there.

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.

Winemaker Jan from Dejvice

The owner of the slope is the city of Prague. Seven years ago, they initiated a reconstruction of the entire wine region. A short time later a private winery was opened on the site. The listed area was reconstructed with help of historic photographs. Today the various wine plots, where the grapes of the varieties Müller Thurgau, Rhein Riesling, Pinot noir, Dornfelder, Blue Portugal hang, are separated by solid stone paths. The restaurant Altan located there, whose owners cannot complain about a lack of customers, was also reconstructed a few years ago, and now features a separate room for wine tasting – making the restaurant somewhat of a marketing department. Yet not all winemakers have this luck; by the wayside, there are many small growers who do produce good wines, but they do not sell well.

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!” 

Czech wine was long underestimated but is now in vogue. Just as ŠKODA’s cars: Within a quarter century, ŠKODA has evolved from a regional manufacturer into a dynamic automotive manufacturer on the international stage.
Czech wine was long underestimated but is now in vogue. Just as ŠKODA’s cars: Within a quarter century, ŠKODA has evolved from a regional manufacturer into a dynamic automotive manufacturer on the international stage.

Sůra has been working as a winemaker for many years. He says he could count the number of apprentices on one hand. Sůra is committed to a renaissance of Rhein Riesling. Good wine at a higher price – this is the dream of the winemaker. Even in the Czech Republic, wines are subject to certain fashion trends. Nowadays, the demand is shifting towards fresh wines to rosé wines and wines with less alcohol. Young wine, known in Czech as ‘Burčák’, remains a Czech favourite.

What should a good wine taste like anyway? “Wine has hundreds of defined scents and flavours. Some like lemon, cherry or chocolate flavour.” For Sůra, a wine should taste harmonious, with balanced acidity and sweetness.

Wine has hundreds of defined scents and flavours. Some like lemon, cherry or chocolate flavor. A wine should taste harmonious, with balanced acidity and sweetness.

Winemaker Jan from Dejvice

 Mapa_Praha

 

1. TOP WINE FESTIVAL IN PRAGUE
Vintage Wine Festival Trojské vinobraní. Festival at Troja Castle and St. Klara Vineyard where the new wine flows like water.

Saturday, 10 September, opens: 11.00–20.00, U trojského zámku 4/1, www.mctroja.cz

 

2. TOP WINE BAR IN PRAGUE
Velký Vinograf in Prague’s New Town. Modern, stylish wine bar with a large selection of wines from around the world; also offers food and snacks, international top class.

Senovážné náměstí 23, open: Mon-Sat 11.30 – 24.00, Sun 17.00 – 24.00, www.vinograf.cz

 

3. TOP WINE CELLAR IN PRAGUE
Wine cellar Sklep Grébovka in Havlíčkovy Sady Park. Located in the district of Vinohrady there is a real vineyard. The Wine cellar is situated in the eastern part, where the grapes are processed and you can taste the wine.

Havlíčkovy sady, near Rybalková/Charkovská, opens: Fri. 14.00–21.00, www.sklepgrebovka.cz

 

4. TOP RESTAURANT WITH WINE SERVICE
La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise in Prague's Old Town. Luxury restaurant, possibly the best in the Czech Republic, grandiose wine list, absolute all-rounder in terms of food-wine combinations.

Haštalská 18, open: Mon-Sun 18.00 – 24.00, www.ladegustation.cz