“I would compare this year to the record year of 2000. Even in that year there was hot weather, but in contrast to the current year, there was a water shortage,” said prominent winemaker Vladimír Mrva from the winery Mrva & Stanko, when assessing the wine-growing season so far. “However, it is too early to assess the current wine harvest season. Autumn will be decisive, especially September.”
This year’s very hot summer caused the grapes to ripen two to three weeks earlier. The result is that the grapes have a relatively high sugar content and lack acidity. Nevertheless, Mrva believes the timely harvesting makes it possible to achieve harmonious wine.
Grape harvesting festivities
There are a number of vinobranie - grape harvesting festivities in the boroughs of Bratislava and in the towns in the foothills of the Small Carpathian mountains.
- Friday and Saturday, Sept 7-8 below Devín castle
- winemakers from Devín and the Small Carpathian Wine Region
- Visitors will have a chance to taste currant wines produced by the local Thebener winery, which along with other winemakers resumed the local tradition of producing currant wine. Several of them have collected medals around the world.
- More info at the FB page of the event
Day in vineyards
- Saturday, Sept 8, from 11:00 until 19:00, vineyards of the Small Carpathian region
- Visitors can taste the freshly ripened grapes in the vineyards overlooking Bratislava, along with burčiak as well as wine, produced from the grapes of these vineyards. In total 53 vineyards will be open from Rača via Svätý Jur, Pezinok, Modra up to Doľany.
- A ticket costs €15, its part is a €5 bonus for purchase of wine
- Friday-Sunday, Sept 14-19 in the Bratislava’s borough of Rača
- Visitors can taste burčiak as well as the wines of local winemakers including Ivan Holík, Rudolf Rakyta, František Krajčírovič, Miloš Máťuš or the local winery Villa víno Rača
- There will be stands with typical refreshments like cigánska [a slice of bread with pork, onion and mustard], lokše [thin potato pancakes], roasted sausages, candy floss and merry go rounds
- More info at the FB page of the event
- Friday-Sunday, Sept 21-23 on Radničné Square and in the park of the nearby castle
- Apart from burčiak, wine and local specialties there will be a competition of miners’ choirs and fireworks on Saturday
- Friday-Sunday, Sept 28-30
- Visitors can taste burčiak, wines, including those that won a local wine competition as well as seeing how grapes used to be pressed in the past
Day of Open Wine Cellars
- Friday and Saturday, Sept 23 and 24, Small Carpathian Wine Route
- Wine lovers can taste wines from the whole Small Carpathian Wine Region in places where they were produced and talk with their producers
- 160 wine cellars will be open
“Winegrowers and winemakers have learned a lesson from the previous hot years and they know now when to harvest grapes in a good technological maturity,” said Mrva, adding that when assessing maturity of grapes winegrowers should not only look at the sugar content but at other parameters, especially PH and acid content.
This year looks very good for blue varieties and white varieties that mature later.
“If September is warm and, more importantly, dry, and there will not be a significant increase in precipitation, this year has all the attributes of making a very good vintage,” said Mrva.
The winemaker Braňo Bahna from Vinocentrum in Svätý Jur close to Bratislava confirmed the three-week advance in the ripening of grapes. Not only early varieties, but Müller-Thurgau, Veltlín or Dunaj varieties ripened at the end of August. This week they are harvesting Riesling. As for the quality of the future wine, it is necessary to preserve the acidity of the grapes.
“The mastery of a winemaker lies in the proper timing of the harvesting of individual varieties, and the winemaker must know beforehand what kind of wine he/she wants to produce,” said Bahna.
Martin Hrubala, the director of the Malokarpatské Museum in Pezinok, said that last week’s rains have not harmed the grapes so far. But if there is more precipitation, it may worsen the quality of the grapes. It will reduce the sugar content and the grapes may start growing mold.