Czech wine region, worth a visit?

By Lizet Wesselman - 04/11/2022 - In collaboration with the Czech tourism board

Czech wine region, worth a visit?

By Lizet Wesselman - 04/11/2022 - In collaboration with the Czech tourism board

Wine country? Huh, wasn’t the Czech Republic the country of pilsner? The country where beer is cheaper than water? Yes, right. The Czech Republic is probably known worldwide as the beer country and this is certainly a popular drink. But that definitely doesn’t mean we should ignore the country’s wine culture! Because wine has also been brewed in the Czech Republic for centuries and you can find vineyards all over the country. Even Prague is home to several vineyards. But for the real wine culture, you’ll have to visit south Moravia. And I’m going to tell you exactly where to go.

History Czech wine

If we think about wine, we think about France, Tuscany, South Africa or Chile. But excavations around the village of Mušov in southern Moravia (south of Brno, near the border with Austria) show that the wine culture in the Czech Republic already started around the year 200. That’s likely when the still-popular grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Welschriesling made their first appearance in the region. Two grape varieties for white wine, which to this day are still the most common wine varieties from the region.

Some 600 years later, the wine culture also began to emerge in the west of the country, with the first vineyards in the town of Mělník, just north of Prague. From then on, the red wine variety Pinot Noir was also introduced in the region, thanks to new vine stems from Germany and France, where wine knowledge was already a lot more advanced.

Thanks to political events, the wine culture in Bohemia, the western part of the country, took a big hit around 1200. But at the same time, things were actually looking bright in southern Moravia, which resulted in a more regulated wine culture. In fact, things eventually went so well that in 1763, Austrian officials started requesting restrictions were requested in order to reduce the growing competition.

Yet disaster struck here too. Around 1850, the whole of Europe was plagued by phylloxera, an aphid that caused vineyards throughout Europe to die off. The Czech Republic was not spared from this and almost all vineyards got destroyed. But fortunately, better stems were eventually planted in return which only improved the quality of the wine.

Today, you can find 20,000 ha of vineyards in the Czech Republic, 19,000 ha of which are in Moravia. Time to take a closer look at the region!

Wine regions Moravia

The wine region in southern Moravia can be divided into four sub-regions, namely Znojmo, Mikulov, Velké Pavlovice and Slovácko. As we’re used to with vineyards, each region has its own unique wines. The only wine that you’ll find all over the country is Burčák!

Burčák

Burčák is a young wine which is only available at the beginning of the season, i.e. in September, maybe as late as October. It’s generally made from the grapes that aren’t considered good enough for the quality wines. These grapes are immediately bottled, without going through the whole wine making process. It’s sold in plastic bottles with a loose cap, because the fermentation process is only just beginning and this releases gas. If you close the bottle and forget it for a few hours, it is quite possible that your bottle has exploded once you remember it. This obviously also makes it quite hard to export, making it a truly unique drink found only in the Czech Republic. (Although some other versions can be found in Austria, for example).

The first bottles are almost alcohol-free and actually taste like lemonade. When the fermentation continues, more alcohol will appear in the wine. But it’s still a young wine and will remain very sweet. So be careful not to drink it like lemonade, because you will really regret it the next day. After a few weeks, the wine becomes too bitter to drink. Burčák will never become real wine but is really a unique local drink that you can buy anywhere in the country. Usually even just on the street corner at a temporary sales table.

Better wines are made from better quality grapes, with different grapes in each region. Here’s a summary:

Mikulov

Mikulov is the region where it all began. This is where the first vineyards were found, so to this day it’s one of the most important wine regions in the country. You’ll mainly find white wines here, mostly with a mineral-like flavour, due to the mineral-rich limestone soil. Popular wines from the region are therefore Welschriesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc.

Velké Pavlovice

Velké Pavlovice is the largest wine region, with 4741 ha of vineyards. Despite Southern Moravia mainly producing white wines, you will find many red wines in this region. For example, the Pinot Noir, Blauwer Portugieser, St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. But also the white wines Pálava and Moravian Muscat (Muškát Moravský), a specific wine from Moravia, are mainly found here.

Slovácko

You will also find the Muškát Moravský in this region on the border with Slovakia (hence the region name). Along with the local red wine Cabernet Moravia. In this part of Moravia you’ll find a lot of water, making the soil wetter again and especially good for grapes like Silvaner, Pinots and Chardonnay.

Znojmo

The Znojmo region has the smallest area of vineyards, but that certainly doesn’t make it inferior to the other regions! The 3 main wines here are Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Red wines are hardly found here.

Znojmo is the region I got to discover and which made me fall in love with the Czech Republic as a country all over again.

Znojmo and wine

Our trip took us to the region around the cute little town of Znojmo. The town and the region are worth a visit anyway. But for wine, this really is a great region! And actually, you don’t even have to leave the town to enjoy wine.

At the Enoteka Znojmo, you can do your own wine tasting. Here you’ll find all the wines from the Znojmo region and a lot more from the rest of the country. You buy a card with a certain credit, you decide how much. Choose the wine you want to taste and pay with your card. Put the card in the wine dispenser, press the button of your wine and quantity and taste away! You can also buy the wines here, if you’re a real fan. And you can also grab a bite to eat in the cafe. From the terrace, you have a great view of the surrounding area and I can definitely recommend enjoying the view during sunset.

Would you rather go to a real vineyard for a tasting? Of course, you can. We visited several, and they are all worth a visit!

Thaya Vinarstvi

Thaya Vinarstvi is unfortunately currently not open for individual tastings. This is because it’s a brand new vineyard and they simply don’t have the capacity for that. However, you can come here for a fantastic meal, accompanied of course by a glass of their own wine. You can also spend the night in one of the cute little hobbit houses that they rent out as hotel rooms. No need to drive after all that wine. You’ll find this vineyard on the edge of the nature reserve “Narodní park Podyjí” which is the inspiration of the vineyard. All wines are made ecologically and with respect for nature! You will therefore find a picture of an animal found in the park on all the bottle labels, and the name Thaya comes from the river Thaya that flows through the park. So if you’re looking for a sustainable winery, Thaya is definitely worth a visit!

Vinarstvi Lahofer

Vinarstvi Lahofer is one of the largest vineyards in the Czech Republic, producing 800,000 bottles of wine a year! In 2020, they opened their brand-new building with a design inspired by a wine cellar, including a roof available for outdoor theatre performances. The building alone is worth a visit. But of course, you are also welcome for a tasting. You can also do a tasting at Hotel Lahofer in Znojmo itself, for example in the cellar connected to the city’s underground system.

Disclaimer: this trip was in collaboration with the Visit Czech Republic tourism board. The blog, however, is completely mine, without any directions from the board. It’s my personal opinion and I do not get paid to write anything or if you’d happen to book through the mentioned links. Those really are there to help you 🙂