With the end of August closing in, the wine season begins. The voluptuous grapes come down and sleepy wine cellars waken for the vinobraní festivities. Redressed over the centuries, vinobraní serves up myriad ways to engage the grape-harvest celebrations, and here’s a sampling of the most wine-tastic.
King of Wines in Smíchov
The National House in Prague 5 will host a presentation of prize-winning wines as part of the King of Wines competition on 17 October. Selection of wines from top Czech, Moravian and Slovakian winemakers will be up for limitless tasting. The afternoon degustation runs between 12:30pm and 4:30pm; the evening tasting from 5:30pm till 9:30pm.
Fusing wine with a great view
Sitting on a terrace of the St. Clara vineyard feels like lounging somewhere in Italy. The vineyard slopes down to Trója castle, built in the style of a Roman villa by the architect Jean Baptiste. A river runs underneath the castle, and, behind it, spans the tree-rich mound of Stromovka park. The few boxy houses of Holešovice go unnoticed with such a view. The wines on offer and the view is a luring combination, pleasantly surprising for Prague. To get there, take the 112 bus from nádraží Holešovice, bike or skates along the Vltava shore, boat from Rašínovo nábřeží or simply stroll through Stromovka.
Winemaker’s at play
Although Obramovice near Znojmo doesn’t qualify as a major wine-producing region, it offers an authentic wine-making experience. Pavel Matouš and Eliška Čeperová own a family vineyard there and welcome others to partake in the grape harvest. “Every year, there are a few people who feel like attending vinobraní. We house them for free, give them scissors, and they’re good to go,” Pavel Matouš says, adding that some visitors also attend the pressing of grapes and other parts of the process. There are four rooms available, as well as a kitchen with a fridge. For non-working guests, the lodging adds up to CZK 250 a night.
Sampling top 100 wines
Conveniently, the Wine Salon competition of top Czech wines is accompanied by a permanent public wine-tasting exposition in the cellar of chateau in Valtice of the 100 best. You can either roam freely or opt for a guided tasting.
Biking the wine region
This wine bike route through the southernmost region is ideal for those not fond of hills. It weaves through flat vineyards and woodland meadows. As a bonus, it crosses unique Moravian castles, concrete war bunkers from the First Republic and pumps for extracting the oil beneath the vineyards. The route spans more than 100 kilometers. In any case, it’s best to divide it over several days as breaks at wine hamlets and cellars take up a lot of time.
Pink route for first-timers
This bike path holds a number of advantages. Because it’s shaped like the number 8, you can set up your initial camp anywhere on the route. And, if 56 kilometers seem too long, you can easily shorten the trip. The top attraction, though, is the wine. Few wine micro-regions have retained as much fairytale atmosphere as this one has. Expect to cross paths with grandmothers wrapped in embroidered shawls as they shamble to the heavily decorated cellars to pick up their wine-dazed men, trapped in a time warp since last year’s tasting.
Wine touring in the saddle
Swing up into a saddle and experience Pálava’s vineyards on horseback at the Jáňův dvůr farm in Nový Přerov. The old agricultural estate is now a guesthouse, following extensive reconstruction last year. Horse rides to wine cellars also extend over the border to Austria. An hour ride costs CZK 300; CZK 500 with a visit to a wine cellar.