Small Carpathians smell of wine and craftsmanship

Discover the region where award-winning Slovak wines are born. In the past, they were served at the imperial court in Vienna and on the board of the famous Titanic, today you can enjoy them in dozens of wine cellars scattered throughout the region. However, not only winemakers will enjoy themselves in the royal towns of the Small Carpathians Mountains.

Photo: Miroslav Grenčík, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Go on a wine safari and let be hosted in the Habsburg Hall

Just 10 km from Bratislava, you will enter the town Svätý Jur, whose preserved center gives you an idea of what the wine-growing town looked like. The Renaissance vineyard house stands out with its authentic atmosphere of old times. Along the wall of this historic gem presumably, the oldest grapevine in the town is stretched.  With the sun resting on a glass of well-chilled wine, poured in the shade of his 500-year-old cellar, a tasting with a professional winemaker will be a real experience. In the liquid treasures of Michal Bažalík, you will feel the love for the winemaking, traditions, and for the land on which the vineyard grows. In the Čokokafé Cafe, you will be offered a fragrant cup of coffee and a cake with homemade jam. Are you looking for adventure? Wine safari on a six-wheeled military Pinzgauer will take you to a whole new dimension of the wine route.

Photo: Miroslav Grenčík, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Would you like to experience working in a vineyard for yourself or go on a private wine route and experiential wine tasting in the vineyards and historic cellars of the city? Then contact ViNOCENTRUM, a local wine shop with more than 90 wines from 20 Svätý Jur´s winemakers. Thanks to visitors from all over the world, the town becomes a multilingual Babylon every season. If you get hungry, accept an invitation to the Renaissance Pálffy Chateau. In the Habsburg Hall, right in front of your eyes, creative chef Tomáš Ševčík will demonstrate to you culinary art inspired by Austro-Hungarian cuisine and traditional specialties from the region in a modern style. In the Hostinec Palatín (Palatin Tavern) there, we recommend you try craft beers from the local Pálffy Brauerei brewery.

Photo: Miroslav Grenčík, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Find a real gold in the pan

During the wine festivals the smell of the burčiak (federweisser) and a cider made from freshly squeezed grape juice, which many claims serve to rejuvenate the blood, will lead you to neighbor Pezinok. Here you will find family wineries that, in addition to high-quality still wines, also produce excellent sparkling wines using the same “méthode traditionnelle” as in the Champagne region of France. You will fall in love with the story of local wine in the interactive Small Carpathians Museum: test their unique aroma bar or simulator of drunkenness. If you want, you can taste the wines here in complete darkness, which will heighten your senses. Or are you more interested in tasting in a mining tunnel? In Pezinok, not only wine matures underground. In the 14th century, 24-karat gold was mined here, later pyrite and antimonite mining was added. Take advantage of it and go on a special tour. Will you be able to find rare pieces of gold among the gravel in the gold pan?

Photo: Marek Dvořák, OOCR Malé Karpaty

For lunch, you are welcome at the Palffy Restaurant at Šimák Chateau Pezinok. A grand staircase and double French doors lead you into the sensitively restored originally water castle. The atmosphere of the posh restaurant by Ducasso can also be felt in the interior, whose carefully chosen design honors even the last napkin or dessert fork. A trip to the Mlsná Emma shop in the center of the city will be the sweet spot behind the modernly served regional delicacies. It is a chocolate shop, a cafe, and a mini-gallery with an art shop in one. In the beautiful surroundings of an ancient burgher's house, you will discover that even 100% organic chocolate melts pleasantly when cocoa butter is not skimped on, and that small family wars can be waged over dark chocolate with salted caramel.

Photo: Šimák Chateau Pezinok, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Taste the medicine in a bottle and a hand-made mug

In the town of Modra, the Mlyn 108 restaurant will draw you into the world of honest passion for the culinary profession. In the truly fairytale interior of a renovated water mill from the 16th century, you can enjoy local specialties in combination with excellent Modra wines. Chef Otto Chrapčiak is fond of fresh domestic ingredients, so you can choose a nice meal according to the current season on the menu. Our tip: smoked trout fillet with apple vinaigrette, bear's garlic mayonnaise, quail egg, apples, cucumber, and caviar, and a glass of Breslava 2020 dry wine from Šimonovič winery or Silvan green 2018 from Víno Rariga winery. Modra is considered the capital of wine and ceramics. So you can't leave the town without a wine tasting. Take a seat in the 500-year-old Pivnica u pradeda (Great-Grandfather's Cellar), built from stones taken from the Small  Carpathians vineyards, or in the opposite Fedor Malík & son winery, in the Vináreň u Ludvíka (Ludvik´s wine bar), the Pavuk Caffè & Enoteca or Cuvée wine shops.

Photo: Fedor Malík, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Don't forget to take one of the most popular souvenirs from Slovakia with you from Modra - colorfully painted ceramics with haban decor. Modra majolica and majolica ornamentation are inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia. In the ceramic manufactory of Slovak folk majolica, you can even turn a ceramic mug yourself on the potter's wheel. Under the supervision of experienced masters, try the technique of painting on a raw glaze.

Nearby the manufactory you will also find the company store of the Slovak artisanal roaster Ebenica Coffee, whose espresso has been ranked among the TOP 10 coffees in Europe by a prestigious award, beating even the most popular brands from Italy. Peek into its fragrant backstage and taste coffees from around the world prepared by a professional barista.

The picturesque region dotted with vineyards and mysterious castles will never cease to amaze you with its repertoire of experiences. The November event Open Cellars Day is an ideal opportunity for a closer examination of all its fragrant and tasty forms. Accompanied by local winemakers, you have the opportunity to test the offer of the most beautiful 130 wineries on the Small Carpathians Wine Route.

Photo: Martina Mlčúchová, OOCR Malé Karpaty

Photos in photogallery: Lucia Mandincová, OOCR Malé Karpaty