Wines from the Czech Republic are finally having their day in the sun as aficionados discover the region’s excellent offerings.
The tradition of winemaking goes back centuries in the Czech Republic. But it’s only recently that wines produced here have received international recognition. Several factors are now working in the region’s favors to make this a reality. First there is the mild climate, rich soil and gentle hills of the southern Czech Republic which are ideal for creating the award-winning whites and smooth reds for which the area is famous. Add to that a boost given by the fall of communism 20 years ago, which has allowed hundreds of private wineries to come on the scene, helping Czech wines finally gain the attention they deserve.
For an unforgettable tasting experience, visit Lacina Winery in Velké Pavlovice, a village in the Moravia region of the Czech Republic, about 40km from Brno. Family-owned since the 1920s, today a father and son team – both named Pavel Lacina – run the winery. The elder Pavel grows and blends the wines, and the younger hosts the tastings and sells the bottles.
Upon arrival at Lacina’s “cellar in the valley,” you’ll be escorted down into their historic wine cellar, an ancient candle-lit space with curved ceilings that dates to the 16th century. Pavel (the younger) will pour 6-12 bottles of the family’s finest for you, ranging from light and fruity whites to complex reds. Particularly recommended are the Neuburger 2009, a dry white similar in taste to Sauvignon Blanc, and the Frankovka 2009 (also known as Lemberger), a fruity, smooth and well-aging red that has won multiple awards, including accolades from competitions in San Francisco and Vienna. Throughout the tasting, Pavel – a fluent English-speaker – will narrate the winery’s history, talk you through the winemaking process, and answer any questions you may have about every aspect of production.
Bottles are available for purchase, and all are under $15 US. The wines can be found in the States under the label Blue Hills.
Another area winery to check out is Tanzberg in the picturesque town of Mikulov, which produces award-winning wines from a vineyard that dates back to the 13th century. Also nearby you’ll find Velké Bilovice, a village boasting more than 650 wine cellars (in a town of just over 4,000 people). Home to an annual festival of “Wine Wandering from Wine Cellar to Another Wine Cellar,” there are close to 50 wineries open to the public, including the Winery Petr Skoupil.
Don’t want to worry about driving? Rent a bike and roll onto the Moravian Wine Trails, a network of 1,200km of marked bike routes throughout the region.
For more information, visit the official website of the Czech wine regions.
Note: it’s advised to call or email the wineries in advance to schedule your tasting and make any special arrangements (such as hiring a dulcimer or accordion player to enhance the experience), and to confirm opening hours.