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September marks wine harvesting season in the Czech Republic (yes, there is a beverage beyond beer here), and wine harvest festivals are held throughout the country in celebration. Amongst them is the weekend-long Prague Wine Festival (September 17-19, 2010). Along with the opportunity to sample hundreds of wines, this event offers an accompanying cultural and events program to enhance your buzz—along with an exceptional island location.
The Czech wine tradition
Kicking off on a Friday, the festival will give attendees the chance to taste the gifts of the grape from the Czech Republic’s main wine producing lands, Moravia (the Southeastern part of the country), as well as those from Bohemia (the Western part), which includes Prague. Winery representatives from other wine countries in Europe, including Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Germany and France, will also be present.
Prague has a rich viticulture tradition, which began with the Royal Vineyards founded by Charles IV. The vineyards were spread out on the slopes in what is now the Vinohrady (vineyards) quarter of the city, among other areas. Though the Royal Vineyards are largely gone, there are two preserved vineyards in Vinohrady and one renewed vineyard at Vyšehrad.
What makes the wine festival particularly special is its unique location. Resting in the middle of the Vltava River, Prague is home to several islands, including Slovanský ostrov (Slavic Island) or Žofin (as its known colloquially), which is where the festival will take place.
Composed mainly of grassy areas, large trees and several benches to sit back and sip on, the island has a romantic vibe, enhanced further with excellent views of the castle, the river’s bridges and the National Theater, which is just up the street.
The island is also home to the neo-renaissance Žofin Palace, a leading cultural and social events center since 1837. On its south side rests the Manes Building, an excellent example of functionalist architecture. The Manes Building houses one of the city’s most exceptional art galleries and is uniquely juxtaposed with a 15th-century water tower that stands beside it.
What’s on the program
In addition to history, wine and great views, the event offers a daily program of musical performances by traditional folk bands, wine-tasting lectures and presentations, a wine auction and a competition for the best wine. If you come with kids, check out the children’s programs at the island’s most-excellent playground.
For a basic entrance pass—valid for all three days—the event costs just 220 CZK (about $11!), which includes a tasting glass and a Prague festival guide. In a nutshell: a taste of the Czech Republic for cheap!
Tickets can be purchased at TicketPro or at the event. For special tastings held in the small hall of Žofin palace, there is limited spacing, so buy now.
Prague Wine Festival
Žofin island (Narodni tram stop)
September 17th: 2 p.m.-10 p.m.
September 18th-19th: – 10 a.m.- 10 p.m.