Did you know that Slovakia produces wine? And actually a LOT of wine, since about 50 000 tonnes of grapes are produced each season in 6 wine-producing regions. In the southern part of Slovakia, the climate is just ideal for the viticulture. Slovakia has a long tradition of winemaking, specializing in unusually dry and sweet varieties. Here is everything you need to know about Slovak wines.
Let's start with Tokaj because this is the oldest and probably the best-known wine region of Slovakia, although it is the smallest one (which makes it a perfect place for a romantic getaway). The Tokaj region is located on the border with Hungary. Wine from Tokaj used to be popular among many monarchs and even American presidents such as Thomas Jefferson. On a short note, it is very sweet, and you can get drunk very quickly from it. If you want to explore this region, I suggest visiting the newly opened winery Chateau Grand Bari, that has vineyards with a wine cellar, a shop, a restaurant, and a hotel. You can arrange a wine degustation and learn more about the history and the process of the wines produced here. Other beautiful vineyards belong to the Tokaj Macik Winery. It is a family winery with a long tradition of winemaking, that has won several international and Slovak awards for the best wine and the best bottle design. The best type of wine to try in this region is dry Furmint or sweet Tokaj.
The Little Carpathians wine region, with its main cities Modra and Pezinok, is just a short drive from Bratislava, which makes it one of the favorite wine destinations for both locals and tourists. This region is producing red, white, and rosé grape wines, but you can also try a delicious sweet wine from blackcurrant made by the Pereg Winery. If you are exploring Modra, make sure you stop by at Elesko, a boutique restaurant and wine bar inside the modern art gallery. Another point of interest might be the Neco Estate Winery that focuses mainly on Chardonnay. Modra and Pezinok are wonderful destinations with many local wineries and little wine producers so you can just book a hotel and explore it all on a bicycle, for example. The best time to go is at the end of summer, usually around September when grapes are harvested. There are also many wine-related festivals during that time, but it's best to ask about the local events at your hotel.
South Slovakia might be the most underestimated wine region, not very popular among the public, although it is producing very high-quality natural wines. This region, and the whole wine production in Slovakia, suffered during the communist rule. Nowadays, it is a fast-growing and promising industry, and Slovak wine can easily compete to Italian or French wines. South Slovakia wine region is located north of the Danube River, and it is the warmest part of the country, therefore here are the best conditions for the cultivation of grapes. This is especially suitable for the production of high-quality red wines which require a longer growth cycle as opposed to other regions in Slovakia that grown different grape varieties. A beautiful place to try out a local selection of wines would be definitely the Château Béla, which produces the most renowned wines from Slovakia. Apart from the wines, the Château Béla has a fine-dining restaurant and a romantic hotel in a beautiful location surrounded by vineyards.
The Nitra wine region is considered to be the oldest region in Slovakia to make wine, with the first evidence dating back to the 9th century. As the name of the region suggests, it is located near the city of Nitra, in the western part of Slovakia, approximately 1 hour from Bratislava. You can access the Nitra wine region very easily by train, bus or car. The Nitra region might have the best climate conditions, because of the many sunny days and high elevation. Also, it is a leading region in terms of production. Thanks to the location and the optimal soil conditions, the grapes can be picked and processed traditionally at -7 °C; so, the delicious ice wines are also made in this region. Except for the ice wine, the most common wines produced here are Veltínske zelené, Rizling vlašský and Svatovavrínecké víno. At the beginning of September, there is an event called “vinobranie” where you can have a tour and taste all the wines from the region while learning something new. Sometimes, there are also workshops on how to make local wines.
This wine region is located south of Zvolen, covering the central part of Slovakia, near the Hungarian border. The first evidence of wine-making in this area is from the year 1135. Wine from the Central Slovakia wine region is a product obtained exclusively by total or partial fermentation of grapes, which originate in this region. Wines from the region have more expressive flavor, with a higher content of acids. White wines make for about 80% of the production, while only 20% of the grapes grown in the Central Slovak region are used for red wines. The most famous wines produced here are Veltínske zelené, Rizling vlašský or Frankovka modrá. You can try some wine in the Zwinery, a newly opened winery in a village Želovce, focusing mainly on the natural wines. Another very popular winery from the Central Slovak wine region is Mrva&Stanko, but you can also try their wines in Trnava because that is the location of the headquarters of this wine factory.
You can access the East Slovakia wine region easily from the second biggest city in Slovakia, Košice. It is a small region, so the chances are that you will have a whole wine cellar just for yourself. Even though this region is on the east, it is still the northernmost region and vineyards reach an altitude of 180 meters above the sea level. The soil in this area is mostly volcanic, resulting in a higher concentration of minerals, which makes this region ideal for late maturing grape varieties. Climate conditions are auspicious, but only 3 wineries are producing their wine here (in comparison with the Little Carpathians wine region, where there are about 70 wineries). Most common wines to try in this region would be Müller–Thurgau, Rizling vlašský, Burgundské biele or Chardonnay. You can arrange a visit at Pivnica Orehová, a beautiful family winery that is present on the market since 1994. A part of the wine degustation is, of course, delicious food that goes well with the wine.
There is a long tradition of wine-making in Slovakia, so you can bet that the wine is good! All of the mentioned 6 wine regions in Slovakia are equally worth visiting. Each wine region specializes in different varieties of wine, and it is located in a different part of Slovakia. The best time for you to tour the vineyards, wineries and wine cellars should be anytime between early August and late October. And, that is all you need to know about Slovak wines. Cheers!
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