We make a point of having a glass of wine on our tours. We have figured you will have the beer anyway. It’s cheaper than tap water in many restaurants here, and it’s so ubiquitous we would not believe you if you said you did not have one in Prague. But wines? No. Czech wine production is tiny and exports are rare, so most foreign visitors do not associate Prague with wine.
Well, we think that’s a mistake and that’s why we are trying hard to change that perception. Luckily, we are not alone. Far from it. There are other people in Prague working hard on the same thing. Take the good people of Veltlin, the wonderful local wine bar in the heart of the Karlin district. Mr Bogdan Trojak and his colleagues have long focused on the “natural” wines of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. (You can see the Empire painted on the wall that dominates the bar.)
The very same people have decided this year to organize the second installment of Prague Drinks Wine, a festival of natural wines from the former empire in Prague, to be held on 6 and 7 June. The festival tries to follow on the long-forgotten tradition of meetings of Empire winemakers held before WWI. The festival will host about 50 Central European winemakers offering about 400 samples of wine.
The venue of the festival? One of the most beautiful sights in Prague that are truly off the beaten path: the Troja Chateau below the Prague botanical garden. The wines will be served in the old cellars of the chateau that are usually unavailable to the public so you’ll have the unique opportunity to get behind closed doors.
This is the perfect venue for an occasion like this. We have been sending our guests there for years as a place for the entire family. You first walk through the beautiful Stromovka park past an equestrian centre with horse stables. Walk across the river and turn left to the Troja Chateau. There you can choose between the ZOO, the botanical garden, the English garden of the chateau or the St Clara vineyards, or - even better - see them all. (Our friends tell us that parenting and wine are a great mix, anyway.). Getting back to the city is super easy, too: the 50-minute steam boat ride back to the historical centre is the perfect opportunity to sober up… …before you hit the bars again.
We strongly, strongly, strongly recommend this. (Did we mention that we recommend this strongly?) The first edition of the festival last year was absolutely fantastic, and we think the second year will be even better. You can taste many unique and interesting wines from bigger and smaller wine regions by boutique wineries that really care. You can get off the beaten path and spend a day with the locals. You can get great food and drinks by experts in their fields. EMA Espresso Bar, our favorite, will serve coffee. Tea Mountain, our favorite, will serve teas. The Sklizeno foodie market will serve cold snacks, and the Krystal Mozaika Bistro will offer their food. Heck, they even have an army of professional nannies to keep those pesky kids away while you enjoy all the wines!
We know we will be there, and so should you, we think.