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The perks of the grape harvest season in Prague

Festivals and cultural events

grape-harvest

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 a 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. (If you want to learn more about this alluring neighbourhood, have a look at our guide to 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.

TIP: Would you like to experience a nice evening in Prague that combines wine tasting with the highlights of Czech cuisine? Try our brand new Old Town Traditional Food Tour which includes both!

 

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 already underway and we bring you some tips on how to take advantage of the numerous events that take place around Prague. The beginning of September was marked by an international influence in the form of Prosecco Fest. Appearing on the premises of the St. Wenceslas Vineyard, this event introduced various kinds of Prosecco, the sparkling wine from the northern regions of Italy. Apart from the increasingly popular beverage and delicious snacks, the organizers disclosed the history and production techniques behind this type of wine. If you have missed the Prosecco Fest don’t despair, there will be another opportunity to taste this sparkling delight on Saturday, September 15 on the Prosecco & Food Festival. This event takes place on the beautiful Střelecký Island in the center of Prague and it marks the end of the Prosecco season, giving way to some of the more local kinds of wine.

Vinobraní v Edenu, the wine tasting that took place in front of the Eden Shopping Center, brought us back to the Czech scene. So did Trojské Vinobraní, a family-friendly festival with a rich side program occurring in the courtyard of the 17th-century Troja Palace. If you have missed any of these don’t worry, there are many more festivals to look forward to.

In the next few days, a whole range of events devoted to Czech wine will dominate the metropolis. On Friday, September 14 begin the St. Wenceslas celebrations, commemorating the good king of Bohemia, which means 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 in the markets offer high-quality Czech wines at very reasonable prices. The celebrations end on the 28th of September, 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.

Friday the 14th is also the day of Vinohradské Vinobraní on the Square of Jiřího z Poděbrad. This unique tasting opportunity lasts until Saturday and it is perfect for all the wine and burčák lovers. The 22nd 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.

Because it is hard to stop once you are enamoured with the Czech wine, Saturday the 15th opens up with three more wine-related events, apart from the above mentioned Prosecco festival. Pražské Vinobraní takes place on Vypich and is notable primarily for its side program and numerous workshops. For a small entry fee, you will be able to produce your own burčák and compete with the other visitors. 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.

A great opportunity to taste some of the best wines from Moravia and Bohemia will be during Vinobraní na Pražském hradě. Taking place in the Royal gardens of the Prague Castle, this event offers a wide selection of young wine, burčák, sparkling wine, and traditional Czech wine. Brace yourself for a dose of history, for 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 it is definitely worth it since it allows you to drink high-quality wines on one of the oldest vineyards in Bohemia. Also this weekend, yet another grape harvest festival takes place – 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. The visitors will have the chance to explore the local wine cellar and learn about the various methods of wine production.

In case this was not enough wine for you, the next weekend offers three more opportunities to refill your stock. Starting on Friday, September 21, 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, head for Vinobraní na Grébovce. From Friday to Saturday, the Grébovka Park will host not only some of the best Czech wine-growers, but also numerous workshops, theatre performances for children, and concerts by popular Czech singers. Another option is to join one of the early celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia on Kampa island, which also includes a wine-related fest – Malostranské Vinobraní. Folk music and traditional dances will accompany the wine tasting there.

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!

September 12, 2018