Petra Pokorna was born and raised in Znojmo, Czech Republic and has spent most of her life promoting the wines of that region. She currently works as a manager at vinotrh.cz, which markets and sells wine within the Czech Republic. You can find out more about Petra through her wine-life blog (written only in Czech) or Instagram.
Every wine lover knows the famous European wine regions close to the 49th parallel. These include Champagne, Alsace and the German Mosel. Continuing east along that same parallel, one will encounter regions that are less well known. One of these is South Moravia in the Czech Republic. The continental climate in this zone limits the grapes to those grown in similar cooler wine growing regions. In terms of quality and style, local wines can be compared to those in the neighboring Wachau Region of Austria. It is not surprising that light and fruity white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are dominant.
Perhaps you are wondering why you have never heard of Moravian wine. The reason is simple. Although the Czechs are particularly famous for drinking beer, they also drink a lot of local wine. In fact, local wine does not cover even half of the Czech Republic’s per capita wine consumption. Therefore, if you want to discover the quality of the local wine, you simply have to visit Moravia. While there, you can also enjoy the unforgettable magic of this picturesque region.
An ideal destination for experiencing Moravia’s wine, culture and history is the town of Znojmo. Lying in the southern Czech Republic near the Austrian border, It is the prototypical Moravian wine town. It is conveniently a one-hour drive from the Vienna Airport. A single weekend is enough for you to draw another recognized wine region on your map of the wine world.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your weekend in Znojmo:
Day 1—A Walking Tour
Plan to start your weekend on Friday afternoon. You can find some tips for comfortable accommodation below. Whether you choose a small town center or a modern wellness hotel on the outskirts, you will always be within easy walking distance of the historic part of the city, where you can spend a beautiful afternoon by strolling.
Znojmo is one of the oldest cities in Europe. King Ottokar I of Bohemia proclaimed it a royal city in 1226 and historical landmarks are on every corner. To begin to get your bearings, start exploring from the 80-meter-high city hall tower (1). Located on Obrokova Street, the tower is a dominant city feature and offers a view of all the main attractions. Once oriented, you are ready to begin your walking tour to city wall, Znojmo Castle, the famous Rotunda of Saint Catherine (2)—the oldest building in the city with its unique frescoes—or the monumental Gothic church of St. Nicholas (3).
Right beneath St. Nicholas you will find a magnificent city vineyard (4), distinctively named “Raiska” (which means “Paradise”), and a view of the charming Dyje River Valley. In the vineyard, Lahofer Winery seasonally operates a stand where you can begin to taste the local wine. If you are looking for solitude during your wanderings, you are in the right place.
If you want to integrate wine tasting into your tour of the local sights, there are several options. Stop for a glass of wine at the cozy vinotheque on Jezuistka Street (a) or the Obrokovka (b) tasting room. If you are looking for something a bit more modern, you will appreciate the Chatka Wine Bar (c) or the atmosphere of the recently opened Balance Coffee and Wine Bar (d).
Day 2—A Bike Tour
Did you bring a bike? Bingo! If you didn’t, there are several rental shops in Znojmo. So there are no excuses for avoiding an active Saturday discovering the surrounding area.
Znojmo is the gateway to the Podyji National Park (5). In the hilly forests around the Dyje River and on the gentle slopes of the vineyards, there are many kilometers of bike paths. The Podyjí National Park circuit measures 34 kilometers (21 miles) and includes several demanding climbs, but there is nothing to fear. You have the entire day and the romantic views (6) of the natural surroundings are really worth the effort. Heading west from Znojmo you will encounter your first vista at Kraluv Stolec.
Then the road turns south into the Dyje River Valley. Here you will find one of the finest and most beautiful vineyards in the Czech Republic (or Europe for that matter). The picturesque and historic Sobes Vineyard (7), with its unique terroir along the meandering Dyje River, is a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stopping to taste at of Znojmo's largest producer, Znovin Znojmo, is an absolute must.
Next, you will climb out of the valley and you can reward yourself with lunch at the Vinice-Hnanice hotel, restaurant and winery. Enjoy the renowned local gastronomy and a view of tranquil vineyards. While at Hnanice, you can also visit a typical wine cellar.
You will return to the Znojmo through the vineyards (8). Next stop will be another vista called Seasfield Stone/Seasfielduv Kamen. Then your journey will end with an impressive view of historic old-town Znojmo from Kravi Hora—another important local vineyard. Stop to rest and enjoy a glass of wine in the wine cellars (9) of Novy Saldorf, a renowned wine village on the southern edge of Znojmo.
More detailed proposals for this trip as well as options for other cycling trips and hiking tours can be found at www.znojemsko.info.
Whether tired or rejuvenated, you may prefer to refrain from drinking wine on the third day. Nevertheless, you may also want to purchase a bottle (or bottles) of wine to take home. Even on Sunday you will find the wine shops at Hotel Lahofer, the Louka Monastery or Obrokovka are open for business.
For the remainder of your day, consider visiting the historic and extensive Znojmo catacombs (10) or the nearby baroque chateau Vranov nad Dyjí (11)—where you might recognize the breathtaking backdrop of several Hollywood movies. Alternately, fashion lovers might prefer making the short drive to the large Freeport Outlet Center in Hatĕ.
Planning Your Trip
Other Planning Considerations
Every year during the second week in September, the town of Znojmo hosts the largest wine festival in the Czech Republic. The Znojmo Historical Vintage Festival attracts up to 80,000 visitors. The main event of the three-day festival, besides drinking the season’s young half-fermented wine, is the costumed historical procession of King John of Luxembourg. You will enjoy a unique medieval spectacle; this is especially true in the evening in the light of the medieval torches. Please note, if you plan to visit Znojmo during the festival season, it is strongly recommended that you book accommodations at least a year in advance.
As wine lovers, you are certainly familiar with varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. If you want to taste something that is distinctly Moravian, then it is the aromatic wine from the local variety Palava. This hybrid grape was developed in the neighboring Mikulov region during the 1950s. White Palava wines are both bold and harmonious with aromas of tea and rose petals and higher residual sugar. Experts agree that this variety has potential to become an unmistakable Moravian trademark.
For more information about current events in Znojmo go to www.znojemskabeseda.cz.
Rail: Eurail Pass ranks Znojmo as a top 10 European wine region that can be reached by train. For more information, check https://blog.eurail.com/top-10-wine-regions-in-europe-by-train/.
Automobile: It is very convenient to travel by car. Znojmo is one hour from Vienna and 2.5 from Prague.
Bus: Znojmo is a 3.5-hour bus ride from Prague.
Accommodations with Restaurants
Hotel LAHOFER, Znojmo – stylish hotel right in the center of Znojmo
Premium Wellness & Wine Hotel, Znojmo - for demanding customers on the outskirts of Znojmo
Hotel Vinice-Hnanice, Hnanice - 12 km south of Znojmo, between vineyards
Hotel Savannah, Hate - 15 km south of Znojmo, close to Freeport shopping center and several casinos
U tri jasanu, Novy Saldorf - a small rustic guest-house right next to the wine cellars
Wine apartments – without restaurant but directly under the Rajska vinyeard in Znojmo
The following individuals and organizations contributed photographs for this article:
Freeport Fashion Outlet
Lubos Vitanovsky Jr.