The Vineyards of Prague

Enjoying a glass (or two) while overlooking Prague!

When we flew into Václav Havel Airport outside Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, at the end of August, we were looking forward to discovering the City of a Hundred Spires, a UNESCO monument and apparently one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We were eager to explore the Old Town Hall with the famous Prague Astronomical Clock, the winding lanes of the Jewish Quarter, the Gothic Charles Bridge, the Church of St Nicholas in the Lesser Town and Prague Castle, to name a few of this city’s many attractions.

On the drive to our hotel in the city’s “old town”, our driver asked if I knew of Prague’s vineyards. I had done my homework regarding the country’s wine history and the two major wine regions, Moravia and Bohemia, but I was unaware that the city itself had vineyards.

This was great news as I’m always on the look-out for new and interesting destinations on my wine journey of discovery. I discovered that while these vineyards surrounded Prague on all sides in the Middle Ages, nowadays they are romantic, out-of-the-way corners, hidden from the bustle of everyday city life.

Similarly to other towns, Prague has, in the last few decades, returned to the ancient traditions of wine-making, and vines are once again cultivated in revived vineyards. If you want to discover (and taste) true rarities, these are the places to visit, because these wines generally aren’t normally available in shops.

There are six vineyards in Prague with a total area of slightly less than 12 hectares and an annual production of about 45,000 litres of wine. While not a lot, it is true that Prague wine is more of a curiosity in the wine trade. They can be tasted during so-called vintages and various city celebrations.

We visited three of these vineyards:

St. Clare’s Vineyard

For marvellous views of the city panorama, visit the terraces of the St. Clare’s Vineyard above Troja Chareau. An educational trail leads through the vineyard and there is a wine shop in the vineyard lodge in the middle of the vineyard, where you can both sample and buy the local product. A so-called vintage, including an exhibition of grapes and tastings of sparkling young wine (bur?ák) and table wine, takes place at St. Clare’s every September.

St. Wenceslas’ Vineyard

Several years ago the St. Wenceslas’ Vineyard, on the eastern hillsides of Prague Castle, was renewed. The vineyard is freely accessible. It is talked about as the oldest vineyard in Bohemia, founded by St. Wenceslas at the beginning of the 10th century. Only two varieties of grape, Riesling and Pinot noir, are cultivated in the vineyard itself, with several dozen other varieties cultivated along the viewing path. In the lower part of the vineyard stands Villa Richter and the Piano Nobile restaurant, where wine-lovers are welcomed with specially-prepared, thematic menus and social events.

Salabka Vineyard

The Salabka Wine Trail stretches out above  and offers an unusual view over the Vltava valley. While the first mentions of viticulture date from as far back as the first half of the 13th century, Salabka, similarly to the nearby St. Clare’s, gradually deteriorated and lay fallow until the mid-20th century. Vines are now once again cultivated here and visitors are welcome for a degustation.

More proof that wine is NOT a destination, but a wonderful journey of discovery!