Rolling hills with patchworks of fields, vineyards and orchards, picturesque streets lined with historical wine cellars, quaint villages and small towns with a vibrant musical heritage, especially the music of cymbals and fiddles, wine festivals and unending wine tasting at local wineries. Add to this a network of bike trails with family-run B&Bs, biker-friendly restaurants with regional cuisine on the menu and what you get is a mosaic rich in landscape, cultural and culinary heritage, well worth taking a trip to Southern Moravia, the most important wine region in the Czech Republic.
The best way to explore Southern Moravia is on bike, ideally at a slower pace that allows one to take in more of the beauty of the surrounding countryside, to head through the vineyards and onto the side-streets with wine cellars, down into villages and historical towns nestled in valleys or resting atop hills, which become a real spectacle of song and music during the holidays and local festivals. – The Moravian Wine Trails are a network of 1200 kilometers of bicycle greenways criss-crossing the entire region which inspired and made possible the development of wine tourism in the Czech Republic – says Juraj Flamik from Nadace Partnerství, the author of the initiative and the director of the annual wine festivals taking place there. This initiative began in 1999 as a collaborative effort on the part of 280 wine towns & villages. A network of 18 bicycle loop trails was developed in the region to the south of Brno, extending from Znojma all the way to Uherske Hradiste. Each of the trails made has a separate name and color coding – we are guided along the trail by a ubiquitous logo illustrated by a wine cellar motif, which appears on signs, information boards, maps and folders in different colors which reflect the different local loop trails – the Znojemska, Mikolovska, Kijovska loops etc.. The Moravian Wine Trails emphasize the distinct cultural heritage of the region, especially the Moravian folklore, the centuries-old traditions of wine production and the immense richness of small town architecture and the local landscape which are intimately linked to the wine industry.
At the height of the season, half a milion tourists a year go biking on the Moravian Wine Trails, staying at family-owned B&Bs (often run by wine makers) which makes it possible to relax after a strenuous biking trip, and actually spend some time getting to know the taste of Moravian wine and learning to appreciate its appeal. For staying overnight or dining, it’s recommended you stop at places marked by a logo with a smiling bike and „Welcome Cyclists” certificate. Bikers will be sure to get a hearty and healthy meal, a safe place to store their bikes and luggage as well a set of bike tools and maps.
Moravian Wine Trails have unlocked many opportunities to develop new products and services for bike tourists as well as wine connoisseurs – adds Juraj Flamik. – Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a doubling in the number of accommodations (B&B). We currently have 150 establishments on our trails which have a „Welcome Cyclists” certificate and 200 establishments certified as being an „Excellent Wine Tourism Service”. A major draw to the region outside the holiday season is a festival of open wine cellars, which takes place twice a year – in November and again in April.
There are over 10 000 family-owned wineries in the Moravia region! A stroll down the small streets with their historical wine cellars, regardless of time of day or year will inevitably lead us to an open sklipek (Czech for cellar), whose owner will invite us right away to taste some wine and will likely want to explain to us which particular wine has especially turned out well this season and – as is typical for Moravia – will insist that „while wine is nothing, without it nothing can take place”…
text and photos: Dominika Zaręba
English translation: Piotr Szmigielski