Small Carpathians Wine Route
Allow yourself to be led through secluded vineyards on the slopes of the Small Carpathians and into the magical winecellars, where you will be poured delicious wines direct from the barrel. Treat yourself to an authentic taste of whatwas harvested in vineyards in the Small Carpathians region between Bratislava and the neighbouring county town of Trnava. Along the wine route there are dozens of wine cellars open for you and hospitable winegrowers who will keepyou company on the tour around their wine cellars. Cheers!
A path has been drawn from Bratislava and extending through the cities and towns on the eastern side of the Small Carpathian Mountains along the unifying thread of vineyards. These vineyards make up the Small Carpathian wine region, which is the largest and most important of its kind in Slovakia. Lovers of nature, folk culture and quality wine can use Bratislava as a base, moving up into the eastern foothills of the Small Carpathian Mountains using a route known the Small Carpathian Wine Route. The route passes along the sunny slopes of the Small Carpathians and through its fertile vineyards (measuring around 4,000 hectares) and wine cellars. The Small Carpathian Wine Route gives tourists the opportunity to enjoy a comfortable visit to one of the typical Small Carpathian wineries and wine cellars that are dotted throughout the cities and rural towns in the area.
The primary reason for building the wine route was to systematically promote the Small Carpathian Region and to present it to both foreign and domestic tourists. Wine and viticulture traditions combined with a rich history represented by ancient landmarks, preserved folklore and distinct vineyard houses, gourmet specialities, interesting flora and fauna combined with options for relaxation in the beautiful natural environment are a clear attraction for a wide swath of the public interested in both entertainment and learning. The Small Carpathian Wine Route moves through the former free royal cities of Bratislava, Svätý Jur, Pezinok and Modra, passing through the nearby towns in the Small Carpathian foothills and ending in Trnava. Every town and city offers tourists something different and something noteworthy. In addition to the cultural and historic sites, visitors may also be interested in the traditional folk culture in the individual communities of the region, where they'll find comfortable wine taverns and vineyards to enjoy a roast goose feast, a glass of wine and folk music.
The Small Carpathian Wine Route starts in the Rača borough of Bratislava. Rača's entire history is bound together by the common thread of viticulture. Local vineyards have been mentioned in chronicles dating back to 1237. The expansion of Rača's viticulture in the Middle Ages can be tied to favourable weather conditions. Warmer temperatures allowed for expansion into higher elevations of the Small Carpathians. The best known wine from Rača eventually became Račianska frankovka (Blaufränkisch), which was deemed suitable for the emperor's table upon an edict issued by Maria Theresa in 1767. There are a number of typical rural homes remaining in the section of "Old" Rača. Rača's typical farming homes were adapted to their use by winemakers. They had to have space for pressing the grapes and for storing wine. A number of winemakers completely emptied out their front room in order to use the space as a wine tavern. The best known of these are the Račaianska viecha and the Zvozilov brothers' wine taverns. The history of viticulture can be seen in person in the Town Hall, which is now home to a small museum. Rača today continues to be steeped in folklore and is rich in its diverse folk traditions. People dressed in folk garb are only seen on the street on rare occasions, but you might just catch a glimpse of one in the fall at the traditional grape harvest celebration.
The neighbouring borough of Vajnory is another town rich in folklore. Its former name of Weinern gives a pretty clear account of its vineyard and winemaking tradition. The town's vineyard statutes from the 14th and 15th centuries are among the oldest in Slovakia. Vajnory has also maintained its rural charm since being incorporated into Bratislava as a city borough. One of the homes in Vajnory on Roľnícká Street has been turned into a national history exhibit with representative examples of traditional folk-style living arrangements. Moving on from Rača and below the Small Carpathians in a north-westerly direction, the next welcoming stop is the former free royal city of Svätý Jur (see the previous pages). This is followed by the Grinava neighbourhood of another free royal city, Pezinok (see the previous pages). The name of this once separate town is from its German name Grünau. Traditional occupations for locals in Grinava included viticulture and winemaking, the products of which can be admired and tasted during the annual grape harvest festival celebrated in front of nearly every home along the main road. One of the favourite items made available for purchase for visitors to the town in September is the young Federweisser, locally known as 'burčiak'.
Turning towards the Small Carpathians in Pezinok-Grinava, the town of Limbach is only a few kilometres up the road. The Small Carpathian valleys converge at this small wine-growing town, which has sprouted up to include a new villa section. Marked trails for tourists criss-cross the town. Limbach is also frequented by true wine experts as the local chalet is one place where they can come and truly enjoy Limbach's own Silvaner wine, which has brought acclaim far from the borders of Slovakia.
Those who turn the opposite direction in Pezinok-Grinava will reach the nearby town of Slovenský Grob. The town is known for its traditional goose roasts, which are offered in nearly every house. Potato crepes, burčiak and local Small Carpathian wines are served with the roast goose. The Small Carpathian Wine Route also includes neighbouring Chorvátsky Grob, which was colonized by Croats in the middle of the 16th century. Similar to neighbouring Slovenský Grob, the town has preserved a number of folk art traditions including cross stitch embroidery, stitching and an original style of interior painting.
The name of the next town to the north-east, Viničné, is likewise tied to the tradition of winemaking. More than 100 hectares of vineyards and their caretakers continue to symbolize the primary form of employment for residents. Vineyards and wine are also responsible for the name of the town of Vinosady, which is on the main road from Pezinok towards another former free royal city, Modra (see the previous pages). Visitors can enliven things up with a trip to the nearby Kučišdorf Valley, which is home to a well-known recreation area near a reservoir.
The largest rural town along the Small Carpathian Wine Route is Šenkvice. In addition to quality wines, visitors may be interested in the original Gothic Roman Catholic Church of St. Anne from the 16th century, which is surrounded by a wall with square bastions. The history of the town and its wine-making tradition come into focus in the town's museum.
The vineyard town of Dubová is next on the route if we continue from Modra along the Small Carpathians in a northerly direction. When the nearby towns of Pila and Častá are considered, this area is ideal for walking. The main tourist attraction in the micro-region is Fugger's House in Častá, which features the largest wine cellar in the Small Carpathian region as well as one of the best preserved Slovak castles, Červený Kameň (literally Red Stone). Despite being completely constructed in the first half of the 16th century by the Fuggers, the castle's history from 1588 to World War II is connected to the Palffy family. This important Hungarian noble family progressively transformed the castle into a representative estate with rich stucco and fresco-adorned interiors. The castle is currently home to a museum featuring historical furniture and weapons, the castle's chapel and viewing room with unique paintings and graphics by Slovak and European masters. An excellent tour idea is a visit to the underground areas and the defensive system of the castle. The massive cellars were once used to store wine with a grape press installed to also process the grapes in the castle. The large wooden press is a reminder of those days gone by.
The nearby town of Budmerice is also full of history, and can be reached by turning to the eastern route of the Small Carpathian Wine Route in Modra towards Trnava. The town is home to a beautiful Romanticism-styled manor house built by the Palffy family in 1889. The structure itself is surrounded by a beautiful English park and is currently used as a residence for the House of Slovak Writers. The towns of Vištuk and Štefanová, both known for viticulture and wines, are located next to Budmerice. The route is lined by row upon row of vineyards, which creates truly unrepeatable scenery.
The town of Doľany is next for travellers who continue to the north from Častá along the Small Carpathians. The town's patron is St. Leonard and is shown on the town's crest as a monk in a black robe with a golden halo around his head, holding a bunch of grapes in both of his hands.
The Small Carpathian Wine Route is marked with signs and is well mapped. It exists thanks to support from local civic associations, (Združenie Malokarpatská vínna cesta, Združenie pezinských vinohradníkov a vinárov), the local governments in the Pezinok District and other communities in the Senec District as well as local entrepreneurs active in the wine, gastronomy and tourism industries and the state government. The Small Carpathian Wine Route is more than a simple term or slogan, it represents an annual program of cyclical activities related to viticulture traditions and the wine year, focused on both commercial and educational activities - its role is more than just selling more wine and attracting more tourists as it also seeks to improve the quality of the wines and wine serving and to restore the cultural traditions associated with growing grapes, wine production and its consumption.
Anyone looking for more information about the Small Carpathian Wine Route or interested in registering as a visitor to the Open Cellar Days can visit the Združenie Malokarpatská vínna cesta's website at www.mvc.sk.