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The wine region of South Moravia has plenty of wineries and plenty of castles. There’s one place that combines both in one: the Bzenec Castle Winery.
There have been many incarnations of Bzenec Castle. The original Bzenec Castle was built on a hill above the town, but it was destroyed in the 15th century. Around 1600, a new castle was constructed right in Bzenec on the site of a former fortress. Bzenec Castle was first built in the Gothic style, but then later rebuilt in the Renaissance style around 1600. That castle was then destroyed and rebuilt in a Baroque style in the early 1700s. Another round of demolition and reconstruction saw the castle rebuilt as neo-Gothic between 1855 & 1858, bringing things full circle.
Except at every point, the history of poor Bzenec Chateau saw fiasco after fiasco, including fraud, high construction costs, a tilting tower removed in 1862, and the construction happening backward from the original plan. It’s honestly a wonder that there’s anything still standing today. The City of Bzenec currently owns the castle & hopes to restore it to its former glory, or potentially something even better than that.
Today, Bzenec Chateau is not open to the public, or at least the parts above ground are not. Beneath the castle are cellars that serve as storage space & a tasting room for Bzenec Castle Winery (Zámecké vinařství Bzenec).
Bzenec Castle Winery Tour & Tasting
Bzenec Castle Winery (official website) opened in 2006, with the first wines produced in 2007. However, previous wineries also used the location. The winery owns 540 hectares of vineyards in the area. About 75% of the grapes used are their own to produce some 4.5-5 million bottles per year.
Their nearby vineyards surround the hill that is now home to the Chapel of Saints Florian and Sebastian. The castle was once located at the top of this hill. The Chapel was first constructed in 1703, then repeatedly struck by lightning (which is what happens to things built on the tops of hills), then destroyed one more time during World War II. It reopened in 2018 and the Bzenec Castle Winery operates a wine van near the chapel during the summer months.
Bzenec Castle Winery produces a wide variety of wines under several labels. Popular varieties include their Riesling, Muscat, Palava (a local favorite), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Frankovka, and Pinot Noir. Their Ego line is their specialty. It’s based on what their winemakers want to do rather than market trends. Bzenec Castle Winery is one of the most awarded Czech wineries from the National Czech Wine Salon, with their wines appearing in the selection almost annually.
Our visit to Bzenec Chateau Winery started with learning about the history of the winery in the entryway filled with numerous awards.
The air was thick with that lovely winery smell of sweetness and fermentation. It was harvest time, so production was in full gear. Usually, the winery is not open for tours during this time because of all the work going on.
We walked through the huge facility, getting to see the full process of winemaking from grape to glass, which would come in handy for our experience winemaking in South Moravia the following day.
The grapes are processed after the harvest. After that, the fermentation process begins. The winemakers taste the results twice per day and then decide what the goal will be for that batch.
The facility is filled with massive tanks. The winery used to use concrete tanks, but now only a few remain since stainless steel is better controlled.
Underneath the castle is the old cellar, filled with oak barrels. Pipes move wine from the production area into the cellar.
In addition to hundreds of wine barrels, the cellar also has old photos along with signs detailing the history of Bzenec Castle.
As the Bzenec Castle Winery tour was wrapping up in the area where their bottle-fermented sparkling wines are produced by hand, it was time for our first tasting of many that evening.
Sparkling wine is always a nice way to start off a wine tasting, and the Bzenec winery 1876 Sekt was outstanding. Named after the year that the first Czech sparkling wine was made in Moravia, their sekt was perfectly balanced between sweet and dry, with a nice sparkle.
Before we continued the tasting, there was one other highlight to visit. There are several gorgeous carved wooden wine barrels in the cellar. These barrels detail the history of the Czech Republic, the history of Bzenec, a wine-drinking celebration, and love, & were carved by an employee of the previous incarnation of the winery on site.
Finally, it was time for a full wine tasting and dinner down in the beautiful tasting room at a round table fit for royalty.
We would end up tasting a generous offering of 10 wines, along with plenty of local food. This is actually the full Bzenec Castle Winery tour & tasting offered through the winery website. The tasting covered the whole range of Bzenec Castle wines, with each one being a different variety and style.
South Moravia is dotted with fantastic wineries. Bzenec Castle Winery is an outstanding example that should be on any wine lover’s itinerary.
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Note: My visit to Bzenec Castle Winery was a Traverse press trip hosted by South Moravia. All opinions are 100% my own.