I’m still pinching myself as I write this. We had travelled to the beautiful town of Znojmo for a classical music and wine festival (More on that in the future). We were heading down with two of Sinead’s friends, staying in a guest-house and visiting some of Veronika’s friends. Turns out that friend’s husband just so happens to be the Technical Director of one of the leading vineyards in the Czech Republic!
Even as we were sitting in their beautiful home, we thought nothing of Evžen Kašpárek’s comment on visiting the cellars of his vineyard. We said we’d love to, half expecting to be taken to a small little plot of grapes with one or two barrels of wine. Oh how wrong we were.
When we arrived at the vineyard we were driven into a construction site, a large 2 story building surrounded by various construction materials. Evžen led us towards the building and took out a huge bundle of keys. We were still completely unaware of what was in store. Perhaps he was renting out part of this huge building…
As the door swung open to reveal several massive vats, their chrome surfaces glistening as daylight poured in, it dawned on us just how serious an operation this was. It wasn’t long before Evžen had sourced some glasses and was pouring a glass straight from the valve on one of the vats.
We sampled a number of the white wines and they were all absolutely delicious. Really smooth and full of flavour and with a long lingering finish that was just so damn good.
From here we briskly entered the red wine room, ensuring we did so carefully so as not to disrupt the carefully controlled temperature. Again we tried wine straight from the barrel, in this case oak and once again our taste buds hugged us with gratitude as we introduced them to some delicious red wines.
After sampling a number of really great wines we continued the tour of the rest of the facility. Firstly we passed by a number of rooms filled with pallet after pallet of wine bottles ready to be filled, labelled and dispatched to their lucky customers. Then Evžen opened up another room. I can’t be 100% certain but i’m pretty sure I heard angles singing and the light level in the room rose sharply as soon as the door opened. Dozens and dozens of cages filled with wine lined the walls. There must have been several hundred thousand bottles all awaiting their inevitable fate.
After the sheer delight of the stockroom we carried on into the hotel and restaurant that are currently under construction. We took a stroll through the site, viewing the impressively spacious rooms. When finished this will be one hell of nice place to stay.
We then made our way (via some slightly shaky scaffolding) up onto the roof where we sat with a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. The view of the vineyards and surrounding countryside from up here was absolutely breathtaking. To the right you can gaze down at the vineyards, stretching outwards over the hills and undulating into the distance. To the left you can see Austria, a few kilometers away, looks pretty much the same. Borders are always these big solid lines on maps, but in reality nature doesn’t care for borders. Hills don’t suddenly change shape, forests don’t stop growing, it’s the same land just someone else owns it.
After exploring the building and sampling the wines we made our way down to the benches out on the road at the front of the site. At the entrance there was a small hut selling Vinice Hnanice’s wines to passing cyclists. The area attracts thousands of cyclists every year who come for the gently undulating terrain and stay for the gently soothing wine.
We parked ourselves down at a bench and sampled some Grüner Veltliner and Müller-Thurgau while sitting in the baking sunshine. Veronika’s mum had made a cake for Evžen’s birthday, but it wasn’t just any cake. It was a meat cake. Yes you read that right, a meat cake. What the f…. you might be asking right now.
Amazing. It was absolutely delicious. It’s basically a giant sandwich with bread, cheese, salami, peppers and tomatoes but created in the style and shape of a cake. Genius.
After sipping on some more wine I ventured into the vineyards themselves to take a closer look at the source of this most impressive venture. The grapes were still in their infancy and won’t be getting harvested until September when a massive operation will kick into gear in order to create the latest batch of wines.
As I returned to our benches a wedding party arrived to take some photos at the nearby shrine at the end of the road. They stopped for a quick glass of wine before making their way down to take what I’m sure were some really nice photos.
While sitting outside we noticed a cherry tree right beside the road and being the inquisitive Irish people who’ve never seen a cherry tree before, we attempted to pick some cherries, first by climbing the tree before being thwarted by an angry looking wasp, and then by pulling a branch within picking distance using a conveniently located fallen branch. We picked a half dozen and returned to our table triumphantly exhibiting our bounty. There must be something in the ground here as they, like the wine were absolutely delicious.
Before long it was time to head back to town, we had a concert to prepare for. It had been a really wonderful day and an experience I will never forget. I’d like to thank Evžen for showing us around and if you’re on the lookout for some Czech wine, I can’t recommend those of Vinice Hnanice highly enough.