The Perks of the Grape Harvest Season in Prague
Did you know that apart from beer, the Czech Republic also has a rich production of wine? In fact, our wine ranks among the best in the world and its production is accompanied by numerous celebrations. Early autumn is grape harvest season, which means plenty of wine tastings and festivals take place all over the country. So, if you are fond of this delicate drink, you should visit Prague in September, when the metropolis turns into a wine-lovers’ paradise. Don’t hesitate and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the grape harvest festivals in the heart of Europe!
Where does all the wine come from?
A picturesque countryside full of vineyards and unique cellars owned by local families – that is a typical picture of the Czech Republic. Wine-growing has a long tradition in the country, especially in the South Moravian Region. Around 94 % of Czech vineyards lie in Moravia, where the cultivation and harvesting of grapes are among the main components of local agriculture. If you feel like exploring the country beyond its capital, definitely pay a visit to some of the Moravian cities famous for their wine industry, such as Znojmo or Mikulov. The local businesses will provide you with their delicious wine and other Czech specialties.
Even Prague has its own share of wine growing. One of the first vineyards on its premises was established by our celebrated King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV under the name Královské Vinohrady (Royal Vineyard). Although this part of town no longer serves the purposes of grape growing, the neighbourhood is still called Vinohrady. Apart from this former grape plantation, there are several active vineyards throughout Prague that produce considerable quantities of wine each year. These include the St. Wenceslas Vineyard in the eastern part of the Prague Castle area, the Vineyard of St. Clare within the Botanical Garden, Salabka Vineyard, Grébovka, or Máchalka.
The Czech wine industry produces both local grape varieties as well as some of the established international strains. The most commonly grown grape varieties include Müller-Thurgau and Grüner Veltliner from the range of white grapes, Saint Laurent and Lemberger from the red grapes. If you want to experience something truly local, try our Cabernet Moravia with an intensely floral taste, aromatic Pálava, or the fruity Neronet, cultivated mainly in Central Bohemia.
Where, when, and how to get the most of the harvest season in Prague?
The grape harvest is one of the crucial steps in the wine-making procedure. Determined by the weather and the ripeness of the fruit, the harvest season usually falls between August and October and is always properly celebrated. Held each year at the end of the grape-picking season, the wine festivals in Prague are very popular among both locals and visitors.
The grape harvest celebrations feature wine growers not only from Prague but also from Central Bohemia and especially Moravia. You will come across all kinds of wine, from the driest varieties to semi-sweet and sweet ones. But don’t get misled, these festivities are not only a convenient way to get collectively wasted. They often include various concerts and shows, historical performances, folk dances, workshops, family-friendly side programs and competitions, all surrounded by numerous food stalls with regional delicacies and snacks. What you definitely shouldn’t miss is the partly fermented wine specialty called “burčák”. Be careful with this sweet-tasting tipple, it will send your head spinning before you are done with it.
This year’s harvest season is just around the corner and here are some tips on how to take advantage of the numerous events that take place around Prague.
The season kicks off on September 6 with Vinobraní v Edenu, an unlimited wine tasting that takes place in front of the Eden Shopping Center. The price of the ticket is 220 CZK and it includes a catalog of the best Czech wines, a wine glass, gifts from the sponsors, and a draw coupon for guided wine tastings from individual winemakers.
Brace yourself, the next weekend will be packed with events! Vinohradské Vinobraní starts on Friday, September 13, in the Square of Jiřího z Poděbrad, and it lasts until Saturday. This unique tasting opportunity is perfect for all the wine and burčák lovers who are thirsty for something Czech. The 23rd annual harvest festival of Vinohrady will offer especially wines from smaller vineyards throughout Bohemia and Moravia, with the addition of a few foreign producers. This event is organized by the Prague 3 District and is free of charge.
Saturday is also the day of Trojské Vinobraní, a family-friendly festival with music and a rich side program in the courtyard of the 17th-century Troja Palace. The entry fee is 200 CZK for adults and 70 CZK for kids, but it’s definitely worth the price – it is a great way of experiencing the best of Czech wine culture and history at the same time.
How about a glass of wine like a king? Try some delicious Czech wine at the royal vineyards of the Prague Castle during Vinobraní na Pražském hradě. The 14th annual harvest celebration takes place on September 14–15 and it offers the opportunity of exploring various areas of the castle complex with a refreshing drink on the side. You might also expect a dose of history – this festival is accompanied by a rich cultural program including traditional folk dances, historical fencing, and educational workshops for children. The tasting itself is for a small entry fee but you get to try high-quality wines on one of the oldest vineyards in Bohemia. It’s hard to say “no” to that.
But if you do say “no” to Prague Castle, there is always Vinobraní sv. Kláry in the Botanical garden. The Vineyard of St. Clare located within the garden allows you to enjoy your glass of wine with a stunning view of Prague in the background. This vineyard might seem a bit remote, but it’s actually super easy to get there. Just take the bus 112 from Nádraží Holešovice and get off at Kovárna. A little spoiler: you will have the chance to explore the local wine cellar and learn about the various methods of wine production.
If you feel like something more exotic, the same weekend also belongs to an international influence in the form of Prosecco & Food Festival. In the romantic area of Žluté Lázně on the banks of Vltava, you will be introduced to various kinds of Prosecco, the sparkling wine from the northern regions of Italy. Apart from the increasingly popular beverage and delicious food, the organizers disclose the history and production techniques behind this type of wine. 250 CZK for adults and 150 CZK for kids is a very reasonable price for such a fancy event.
And if that is still not enough for you, the very same weekend is also the beginning of St. Wenceslas celebrations, commemorating the good king of Bohemia. That means a whole range of events devoted to Czech wine will dominate the metropolis for the rest of the month. Also, two new markets will be opened – one in Wenceslas Square (of course) and the other one in front of the Palladium shopping center in Náměstí Republiky. The wine stalls situated at the markets offer high-quality Czech wines for very affordable prices. The celebrations end on September 28, the national holiday in honor of St. Wenceslas’s death, with Svatováclavské vinobraní – St. Wenceslas Wine Festival in the picturesque Richter’s villa under the Prague Castle. If you happen to be in Prague at the end of September, this is the best way to experience our national holiday.
Because it is hard to stop once you start with Czech wine, the next weekend offers two more opportunities to refill your stock. Starting on Friday, September 20, Kuratické vinobraní will provide you with fresh supplies of delicious wine from all over the country. This festival takes place on the outskirts of Prague in the courtyard of the Kunratice Fortress and it lasts all the way until Sunday.
For a unique wine experience in the heart of Vinohrady, visit Vinobraní na Grébovce. You will find it in the Square of Jiřího z Poděbrad on Friday and in the picturesque park of Havlíčkovy Sady on Saturday. This event hosts not only some of the best Czech wine-growers, but also numerous workshops, theatre performances for children, and concerts by popular Czech singers. Apart from wine tasting, you can also buy grape seeds to grow your own grapevine at home. Just ask the local wine sellers, they will gladly share their experience with the process of growing and harvesting this fruit.
What has St. Martin in store for you?
Don’t be too sad if you miss the grape harvest celebrations in September. As the saying goes, every day is a perfect day for wine. Ok, maybe it is just me who says that, but that does not make it any less true. And because we really do like to drink wine in the Czech Republic, we bring you another great opportunity to enjoy this delightful beverage. On the 11th of November, the day of St. Martin, the first wine of the year is brought to the market. This fresh wine with a specific fruity aftertaste will make up for all the September festivities. Enjoy the St. Martin’s wine alongside the traditional roasted goose and you won’t be disappointed!
August 19, 2019