In the Czech Republic wine is produced in two main areas, though wine is predominantly produced in the southern region of Moravia particularly around the River Dyje, with a few vineyards located in the northern region of Bohemia. Moravia accounts for around 95% of the country's planted vineyards, which is why Czech wine is regularly referred to as Moravian wine. Wine production centers on local grape varietals, but there has been an increase in the production of established international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, though it must be noted these new vines are still extremely small in area and production.
The capital of Moravia is Brno and the wine regions and vineyards are located from about 50 km south of Brno. The Moravia wine region borders neighbouring Austria and Slovakia.
The first mention of vineyards in the region come from the area of Pálava and are connected with the period of the Roman wars - it was this area where Marcus Aurelius had his legions established a military station.
It was then during the ‘Thirty Year War’ (1618-1648) which destroyed a significant area of the vineyards in the Czech Republic, and over the next hundred years they were gradually replanted, though nowhere near the area of vines shown in historical records. Also in 1763, Austrian vintners asked Maria Theresa (the archduchess of Austria, Holy Roman Empress, and the queen of Hungary and Bohemia) to limit new vineyard plantings in Moravia to reduce the competition from Moravian wines.
In 1873 the School of Viniculture was founded in the town of Valtice close to the Austrian border. Czech wine classification defines two wine-growing regions in the country, referred on the wine bottle as (Czech: Vinařská oblast). These are Moravia (Vinařská oblast Morava) and Bohemia (Vinařská oblast Čechy).
Moravia is further divided into 4 wine growing sub-regions; each named after a major town or region. These sub-regions are: Mikulovská, Znojemská, Velkopavlovická and Slovácká.
The Moravian wine region covers approximately 20,000 hectares producing in excess of 350,000 hectolitres of wine annually. There are over 50 different grape varietals planted in this small area with soil types and diversity ranging from sandy, dry, and rocky to rich which results in giving the wine their fresh, mineral and aromatic taste and makes them exceptional and outstanding.
The main white varietals include: Müller-Thurgau, Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer.
The main red varietals include: Saint Laurent, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, Blauer Portugieser and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Along with these traditional red and white wines, Moravia also produces rosé wines, bottle fermented sparkling wines and sweet ice wines.
Czech wine classifications refer to the origin of the grapes and their ripeness determined by measuring the must weight in the grape juice at the time of harvest. Sugar content is expressed in units of °NM, which indicates how many kilograms of sugar are contained in one hundred litres of grape juice. One degree on the NM scale is equivalent to one kilogram of natural sugar in 100 litres of grape must. Czech wine is typically labelled with its varietal, detailed description of its origin, and wine quality attributes. In general, wine produced from grapes with a higher must-weight level and from a single vineyard are considered higher quality.
A Czech wine label will typically specify one or more of the following terms:
Vinařská oblast - (Region) e.g. Morava (Moravia)
Vinařská podoblast - (Sub-region) e.g. Velkopavlovická (Velké Pavlovice)
Vinařská obec - (Village)
Trať - (Vineyard)
The Moravia wine region is renowned for its little villages comprising of wine cellars - just wine cellars with no permanent residents. The town of Velké Bílovice has over thousand registered wine producers. The most planted and produced varietals are white wine, though the local heavy soil provides excellent conditions for red wine varieties too. The Velkopavlovická sub-region is considered the heart of red wines in the country. The Mikulovská sub-region is the largest in the Czech Republic, with vineyards covering more than 2500 hectares.
Moravian wines are currently not widely distributed outside of the Czech Republic. Also all of the best wines are served and enjoyed locally for special gastronomical experiences in hotels and restaurants.