Wine Tasting in Moravia, Czech Republic
Two Different Moravian Wine-Tasting Experiences
| Moravian Wine harvest festival: A Moravian musician entertains at the festival. Photo by Z. Karber courtesy of www.wineofczechrepublic.cz.
Moravia is in the eastern third of the Czech Republic, bordering on Austria, Slovakia and Poland, and containing 94% of the country’s vineyards. Abounding in wine cellars and hospitable accommodations, it is an embarassment of riches for the visitor seeking the best locations for a Moravian wine tasting.
However, one need really look no further than Lednice and Valtice, two neighboring towns, for an authentic Moravian experience. Apart from wine being their chief attraction, these two historic towns have much to offer in scenic and architectural beauty. The 120-square-mile Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an “outstanding example of human creativity.” Valtice and Lednice Chateaux and surrounding parklands were transformed by the Dukes of Liechtenstein between the 17th and 20th centuries, resulting in an impressive combination of Baroque architecture and romantic English landscaping.
Traveling by car from Prague, Lednice is reached after a 160-mile drive southwards on a highway. You take the exit to “Lednice” and “Podivín”, a short distance before the Czech-Slovakian border. From then on you are in Czech wine country.
The road meanders through peaceful countryside dotted with vineyards, until you enter the town of Lednice. One unique budget accommodation is the family-run Pension Jordán situated opposite Lednice Chateau. The rooms are basic, clean and comfortable, all with en suite WC and showers. Beneath the guesthouse is the wine cellar, offering a tasting of a variety of wines from the Jordán family vineyards.
Before the evening’s wine tasting, a visit to Lednice Chateau, dating back to 1222 and rebuilt in the neo-Romantic Gothic style in the 19th century, should not be omitted. Strolling through the landscaped park along shady paths winding amid man-made ponds and streams, you will eventually reach the Minaret. This Moorish structure is the largest of its kind to be found in a non-Islamic country and appears strikingly out of place in the formal English-style landscaped park. And Lednice’s ponds, teeming with birdlife, are listed among the International Ornithological Reserves.
The walking will prepare you well for the Pension Jordán wine-tasting experience. We were led through a tiny door in the garden, where we had to crouch to descend stone steps into the cellar, which had been the property of the family for two hundred and fifty years. There we met the vintner—a wizened little man who appeared to have been part of the cellar for centuries as well. The vintner proceeded to suck the wine from the barrels with a long glass wine extraction pipette, before emptying it into our tasting glasses. We had some rapid tastes of wine, one after the other, making it eventually quite difficult to differentiate between any of them. We were told to name our wines of choice and then to go upstairs to the tasting room where the wine would be brought to our table.
| The vintner in Pension Jordán fills the guests‘ wine bottles.
Photo by Pearl Harris.
Emerging from cellar into the fresh night air, we were shown the tasting room. Here we were served the wines of our choice in carafes. The červené víno (red) tasted superb, as did the refreshing víno bilé (white), which we had chosen. Both were extremely reasonably priced. The wine began to taste even better as the evening wore on.
After breakfast the next day, we purchased some of our cellarmaster’s wines, which he decanted into plastic 2-liter bottles for us straight from the barrels. He told us that he and the neighboring farmers are mainly small-scale farmers who produce only small quantities of wine. This particular family’s vineyards produce 15 different types of grapes on only two hectares. From these varieties, they produce 12 different wines of excellent quality.
Should you wish to spend some more time in Lednice, Pension Jordán has bikes for rent. The countryside is excellent for cyclists, as it is fairly flat. A 4-mile drive or bike ride will take you to another gem of the Moravian wine lands,
Valtice has been a vintners’ center since Roman times. The Secondary School of Viniculture and the Viniculture Academy here prepare students for all aspects of viniculture, as well as for the sommelier profession.
In the cellars of Valtice Chateau, you may taste some of the one hundred of the country’s top wines. These cellars are home to the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic, as well as the National Center for Viniculture and the Moravin Union, the largest union of Czech and Moravian vintners. You might also go on the 3-mile wine trail which begins on the town square, continues through the Chateau and its vineyards, ending at the Viniculture Secondary School.
Arriving at the recommended Penzion Moravský Sommelier, situated a short distance from the center of historic Valtice, hosts Radim and Yvona Štěpánek welcomed and escorted us to our spacious, comfortably-furnished double room with air-conditioning, TV, Internet connection, and en suite bathroom. We learned that this modern guest accommodation was constructed above the family wine cellar dating back to 1890. We soon descended the few stone steps to the cozy cellar. A gourmet feast of Moravian delicacies was spread out on the tables before us. These included ham, salami, sausages, and a huge selection of breads and cheeses.
| Guests in the cellar of Penzion Moravský Sommelier enjoy the finest Moravian wines and a cold buffet feast. Photo by Ian Harris.
When the sommelier appeared, he introduced himself and proceeded to entertain and educate with his commentary on all aspects of Moravian wines. We were then shown the inner realms of the brick-lined cellar filled with its precious store of valuable wines. The sommelier personally selects a variety of top quality wines for this prestigious cellar and then offers a range of his special recommendations to his guests for tasting—and further consumption. On his way out of the cellar, he jokingly admonished that guests might certainly try to imbibe whatever remained in the bottles.
The guesthouse also rents bicycles to cycle-tourists. At the same time as reserving accommodations, it is wise to reserve the wine-tasting and lecture by the sommelier, with the option of a live cymbal band.
After leaving the guesthouse, do not omit a visit to the “Vinotéka Moravský Sommelier.” In this wine store on Náměstí Svobody (the main square) in the historical center of Valtice, you may buy some of the 250 types of assorted wines from all the main Moravian wine-growers. Emphasis is placed on the four South Moravian sub-regions: Mikulovian (Mikulov), Velkopavlovian (Velké Pavlovice), Slovan (Slovácko) and Znojemian (Znojmo). The champions of Valtice’s Wine Fairs, the cuvée selection of Chardonnay and Veltliner, are also available. If you are up to it the morning, after a night of wine-tasting, there is a daily tasting of ten types of Moravian wines. On sale is a staggering array of wines ranging from domestic to imported varieties, from wines for immediate consumption to vintage wines dating from 1950 for collectors.
Libor Nazarčuk is the patron of this wine cellar, a sommelier of enormous distinction. At Moravský Sommelier, one may be assured of tasting only top quality wines which have personally been selected by a semi-finalist in the XII Concours Mondial for the Best Sommelier in the World, held on Rhodes Island in 2007.
Valtice is a historic town, graced by the beautiful Valtice Chateau, with a long history of wine-growing. Above all, Valtice is a paradise for the wine-lover. The streets and stores all exude the centuries-old odor of wine and viniculture. The Valtice Wine Market is held annually in May with International participation.
For that special celebration or private, exclusive getaway in the company of wine-loving friends, Penzion Moravský Sommelier is my recommendation. For a genuine, traditional Moravian wine-tasting experience in a family-run establishment, Pension Jordán will not disappoint. Better still, why not spend two unforgettable—and very different—evenings at both?
For More Information
Accommodations and wine-tasting in Lednice:
Prices: Double rooms in season – approximately $55 for two. Breakfast is optional for an extra $6 per person.
Wine Tasting: Food and wine purchased, charged individually according to choice.
Accommodation and wine-tasting in Valtice:
Penzion Moravský sommelier
Prices: $85 for a double room with breakfast.
Wine-Tasting with lecture by sommelier, food and wine included per person: $30
Getting there: Trains run between Prague and Valtice.
The quickest way to get to Moravia from Prague is by car. For car hire, see www.expats.cz for numerous other car hire companies in the Czech Republic.
National Wine Center and the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic in Valtice: www.vinarskecentrum.cz.
Harris was born in South Africa where she spent
most of her life before emigrating to the Czech Republic
with her husband, Ian, in 2002. Besides travel, her
passions are writing, photography, reading, and animals.
She has a B.A. in English & Linguistics, post-graduate
Diploma in Translation and TEFL qualification. Formerly
an EFL teacher, Pearl now freelances and you can find more information on her website about her work proofreading & editing.
Pearl has been widely published in magazines and on the web. Her travel memoir, “From
Africa to Buková” is available on Amazon.com.