I have been lucky enough to spend quite some time in the Czech Republic through the years, and as a result I’ve been tasting my way through the many great Moravian wines from the South Moravia region. A lot of people are surprised to hear that the Czech Republic is a wine-making country, but I’m here to tell you that there is a whole world of Czech wine for you to discover, and especially in Moravia! So, if you are currently planning a trip to Brno or other destinations in Moravia, or you are looking for a few new flavors to drink, keep reading my guide to (South) Moravian wines!
During my trip to Moravia I spend a week in Brno, exploring the city and taking day trips out to places such as Valtice, followed by a few days in the Znojmo area in South Moravia. I have previously visited Prague several times, and Ostrava in Czech Silesia (sadly not a wine-growing region).
But first things first: where is Moravia, and more specifically; the wine region of South Moravia? Moravia is one of the three historical “lands” that make up the Czech Republic. These three are Bohemia, Czech Silesia and Moravia, all of which you have probably heard of without really knowing that they are areas in the Czech Republic. The region is located south east in the country, and borders Austria. In fact, Vienna is closer to Brno (the Moravian “capital” and the second largest city in the Czech Republic) than Prague is.
Tip! I have also written a detailed guide to wine in Vienna for those planning a trip there, where you can learn about Austrian wines, and find my favourite wine bars in the city.
An intro to Czech Wine and the South Moravia Wine Region
Out of its three historical lands, the Czech Republic has two wine regions: Bohemia and Moravia. However, only 5-10% of the country’s wine production comes from Bohemia, and the rest is produced in the Moravia region (now you know why Moravian wines is the main topic of this blog post)! In Moravia, all wines are produced in the South Moravia region, which is south of Brno and right up to the border of Austria.
South Moravia is split into 4 subregions where wine is grown: Slovácko (Slovácká), Znojmo, Velké Pavlovice and Mikulov. Each region has their own specialty and characteristics when it comes to their wine, but all are equally great (trust me). The South Moravian wine region mostly cultivates white wines, but you will also find sparkling wine, some rosé wines and the occasional red (don’t miss out on the light pinot noir from Krásná Hora Vineyard).
Typical wine grapes such as riesling, sauvignon and chardonnay are grown across the region, in addition to local varieties such as Grüner Veltliner, Müller Thurgau and of course Pálava. The latter is a mix of Gewürztraminer and müller turgeau, and is unique to the region. If you only drink one wine whilst in the Czech Republic, make it Pálava!
In each region there are hundreds of vineyards for you to explore, with Mikulocská having the fewest (185 sites) and Slovacká having the most (418 vineyard sites).
To summarise for you, the most common grape varieties in the region of Moravia are:
- Grüner Veltliner
- Blaufränkisch (yes, a red is actually 5th on the list!)
- Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc
How to order wine in Czech
Now of course, if you are going to truly enjoy some Czech wine (and impress the local wine makers), you need to be able to order it in the local language! At an event I went to at Castle Spilberk in Brno (as a part of the Traverse Travel Blogger Conference), we were encouraged to order out wines in Czech, with the incentive of getting an even bigger glass. Here’s what you need to know:
- “Red wine please” – chervene vino proseem
- “White wine please” – beeleh vino proseem
- “Rose wine please” – roodzove vino proseem
Please don’t judge my spelling of the Czech language – this is purely to help you pronounce it!
Moravian Wineries & Wine Tastings You Should Know About
I wasn’t joking when I said I had spent quite some time researching this post for you, so I could recommend my favourite Moravian wines. These were all selected by the lovely Dasha at the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic (more on that below), and made available for tastings (and big glasses, if you knew how to order correctly) on several occasions during my trip. Additionally, I have been lucky enough to speak to the wine makers directly, and even visit several of them!
This is an ordered list, but I can assure you that all of these are incredible – and if you can, visit them all. There are of course other wineries that are worth mentioning, such as the Bzenec Castle Winery (Zámecké Vinařství Bzenec), the Plener Winery (Vinařství Plenér), J. Stávek and Roman Fabig. All of these are located in the South Moravian region, and are reachable from Brno or Vienna (and even Prague). I have tried wines from all four, and highly recommend them (especially the Rosé St. Leonard from Plener and the oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc from Roman Fabig.
#1 Lahofer Winery
Lahofer was founded in 2003, and they only had a few hectars of land to begin with. Throughout the years since then, they have expanded their harvest and production, and now they have 430 hectars of vineyards! This makes them one of the biggest wine growers in the Czech Republic, and all their wines are produced using their own grapes. This helps them stay in control of the quality of their wines. Additionally, they sell grapes to other wine makers in the region.
In 2020, their new headquarters opened, with an innovative and modern building shaped like a wave. It won several architectural awards, and it’s worth a visit to this winery just to see it. You can walk on the roof of the building to gape across their vines, or head inside for a tasting (or to buy some bottles to bring home.
One thing that’s really special about Lahofer is that you can only get their wines in the Czech Republic and selected stores abroad. So make sure to visit them when in Moravia.
During my tasting there I tried the following:
- Gruner veltliner
- Rhine Riesling
- Blaufränkisch – frankovka
I have to admit, I loved them all, but the one I ended up bringing home was the blaufränkisch.
Lahofer is located in the Znojmo region, and is one of many reasons you should visit this area.
#2 Thaya Winery
Thaya Winery is a modern winery located in the Znojmo region of Moravia. They have a restaurant on site, and even small round cabins you can rent for the night, making you feel like a hobbit out of Lord of the Rings (or at least, that’s the association I made). At Thaya, they focus on making high-quality wines from the grapes they grow in their vineyards, but also on gastronomy. Therefore, I highly recommend a visit to their restaurant.
In addition to this, it is possible to head up on the roof of their main building, for great views of the vineyards surrounding you there. A glass of cold wine at the top of this patio might be just what you need for a summer visit. The wines I brought home from Thaya after our tasting ended up being the Sauvignon and the Pinot Noir.
Fancy staying at the vineyard overnight? Have a look and book it here!
#3 Krasna Hora Winery (Krásná Hora)
I am mainly recommending this winery because their Pinot Noir was my go-to during the Traverse welcome party at the beautiful Castle Spilberk in Brno. It is a very yummy, light Pinot Noir that you can easily drink all night (that’s what I did). This family-owned winery is located in the Slovácká region of South Moravia. The vineyards today cover around 5,5 hectars of vines, with classic grapes such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, amongst others.
One great thing about Krasna Hora is that they have a large focus on organic wines, so if you love biodynamic and organic wine, this is the winery for you.
#4 Castle Valtice and the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic
This place should almost have a post on its own, because if you are only able to visit one place from the list, this should be it – especially if you want to try a variety of wines. The great thing about going here is that they have a selection of wines from all over Moravia (and some from Bohemia), so you don’t have to limit yourself to one vineyard or winery.
Side note: This is not a winery, but a wine collection. So you won’t go hear to learn about how the wine is made, or about a specific vineyard, but to try some of the best bottles in the country.
Valtice is a castle/chateau that was built by Italian bishops in the 13th century, and belonged to the Lichtenstein family up until after the Second World War, when it was decided that German people were no longer allowed to own property in Czech. We started our visit with a 45-minute guided tour of the castle, and learned that the family is currently trying to get their lands (and castle) back, and that there might be an upcoming legal battle in the next few years. The tour of this impressive baroque building is worth doing when you visit (and before you start your wine tasting). You will be taken through several of the beautiful rooms in the castle, including the one where Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria stayed in!
If you are looking to include Valtice and the nearby Lednice Chateau, this is a great day tour to consider!
Now, let’s get to the important part! In the basement beneath Castle Valtice you will find the National wine salon of the Czech Republic! Here, they gather the 100 best rated wines in the Czech Republic every year, and it is an absolute haven for wine lovers. They have been doing this since 2003, and every year around 50 jurors spend 10-12 days just for the qualification rounds to help select the 100 best wines in the country! I did check, and sadly you have to be a professional (sommelier, wine maker, etc) in order to become a juror..
As you learned earlier, there are two regions for wine making in the Czech Republic (Bohemia and South Moravia), and South Moravia again is split into 4 subregions. So, they have a ratio of how many wines they need to select from each region, in addition to how many reds, whites and rosés. White wine makes up for the majority of the collection.
Now, how do you actually get to taste the wine?
You can either pay for a tasting by the glass, where you prepay for a certain amount of glass and use this prepaid cart in a specific dispenser, or you can opt for an “open tasting”. I strongly recommend the latter. Basically, you pay your entry fee, and get to spend 2 hours sampling as many wines as you want in the cellar! The cost of this is 599 czk (around €25/$25), and I think this is really great value. Especially if you think of how much wine you can drink in 2 hours..
How to get to Valtice
If you are staying in Brno or Vienna, you can reach Valtice by first taking the train to Breclav (30 minutes from Brno and 1,5 hours from Vienna). From there, you can travel to Valtice by bus. The bus to Valtice is just a little over 10 minutes, and you can look up timetables on Google Maps or here.
#5 Sonberk Winery
If you want to try the native grape of the region, Pálava, head to the Sonberk Winery. Here, you can sample the variety whilst overlooking the hills the grape was named after! The grape variety was made in the Mikulovská region (where Sonberk is located) by the Vine Cultivation Station in Perná. If you want to learn more about this winery, in addition to sampling some of their selections, you can book a guided tour of the winery during your stay.
#6 Enoteka Znojmo
In the center of beautiful Znojmo, a medieval city close to the Austrian border, you will find the Enoteka Znojmo. This is a wine collection of around 120 wines from the region and area around the city, and they use a really clever By the Glass technology for their wine tastings (the same as in Valtice). Amongst their collections are mainly white varieties, which is only natural since it is the main export of the region. However, they have a small collection of reds as well, and I had a great time sampling all 6 of them (of course).
One thing I really loved was that along one wall, the bottles were ordered from dry to sweet! So, you could taste your way from the driest wine on one side, all the way over to the dessert wines on the other. Perfect for anyone who is unsure what kind of wine they like, and want to figure out their preference. If you, like so many others, have ever said “I wish I knew wine” or “I like wine, but I can’t tell why I like this one and not that one”, this is the perfect place for you to figure out what you prefer!
Wine events and festivals not to miss in Moravia
Since it is the main wine-growing (and making) region in the Czech Republic, you will find that there are many festivals and events happening throughout the year relating to our favourite drink. I highly recommend that you try to time your visit for one (or several) of them – to make your trip even better. Below is a list of some of the top wine events/festivals in South Moravia:
- Open Wine Cellars Festival
- VOC Znojmo Wine Festival
- Pálava Vintage Festival
- Open Wine Cellars Day
- From Cellar to Cellar
- St. Martin’s Wine Tasting
Adding South Moravia to your list
I hope you now have a better understanding of Czech wine, and why South Moravia should 100% be on your list of destinations to visit, especially if you are a wine lover. There is such a large variation of vineyards and wineries to see in the region, and you might just find your new favourite wine here! In addition to this, the tasting rooms scattered throughout, such as the Wine Cellar at Castle Valtice and the Enoteka in Znojmo, will allow you to sample a large variety of bottles from the region. Restaurants all over carry local wines, and they are extremely affordable (one glass of house wine can range from 35-45 CZK, which is less than $2!).