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This is a fourth instalment in a series that we began at the outset of 2023 for the Monthly Amaro Wine Club in which we explore wines from countries with rich winemaking histories that were out of reach for most of the wine-consuming world during 50 crucial years when the wine industry was just on the outset of becoming global, from 1941 to 1991. In short, the countries whose wine industries we will cover in the first months of 2023 were countries that were metaphorically behind an “Iron Curtain.” Please read the first section of “Wines Behind the Iron Curtain: Hungary” at https://amarobrooklyn.com for more on that overall topic.

Last month we explored Slovenia, which has a slice of Mediterranean climate and terrain that meets Continental Europe climate and terrain. Our next subject is much more northern, fully ensconced in Continental Europe: Czech Republic.


Unlike the Iron Curtain countries we’ve covered so far, the Czech Republic’s winemaking history does not predate the Roman Empire; rather, it was brought in by Roman conquests. This still makes for a long, storied past as winemaking in the country is as old as Marcus Aurelius and his military legions who instated viticulture in the 2nd century BC. During the 13th century AD, monasteries significantly increased vineyard areas importing varietals from France, Austria, and Germany.
Source: Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, by Anne Applebaum
The Moravia region, and more specifically the southern part of this region, bordering Austria and Slovakia, is where most of the action happens, surrounding the Dyje River, and accounting for 96 percent of the country’s vineyards. For perspective, it is located on the 49th parallel, putting it at the same latitude as Alsace and Champagne in France. The only other wine region is Bohemia, well known for its beer breweries, but it only accounts for 4 percent of vineyards, so as you may have guessed by now, your three wines will all come from Moravia.

Also, not much Czech wine is distributed in the US because only a few importers have been willing to venture into the countryside in a nation that prioritizes beer as its major alcoholic beverage export. Since production is not voluminous, wine producers have enough domestic demand to not have to be concerned with an export market and welcome importers. In fact, though, there is quite a rich wine culture domestically, and after the Iron Curtain fell, the tourism sector figured it should get in on the game. Starting in 1999, the Moravian Wine Trail effort was sanctioned, ostensibly to conserve an ancient cultural wine heritage, but really to encourage wine tourism. The trail covers almost 300 towns and villages in the Moravian region inter-connected by a network of cycling routes.

In line with a worldwide trend, natural winemaking has taken off in the Czech Republic. In some cases, it is happening among established larger wineries, but mostly smaller producers are embracing organic, biodynamic, and natural winemaking.

Full disclosure, because the import market is so small and exclusive, Amaro is taking a little hit in profit margin bringing these three wines to the club. You’ll note that Czech wines are quite pricy in stores. But we just could not resist introducing you to some unique, naturally made wines by passionate producers, and getting you ahead of the curve as we are sure that Czech wines are going to be one of the new frontier markets.


Velké Bílovice is the most well-known village in Moravia for winemaking, with more than 650 privately owned wine cellars and 1,900 acres of officially registered vineyards surrounding it. The climate is solidly Continental Europe without any type of Mediterranean influence. For perspective, in December through March, temperatures dip below freezing occasionally, but by March they’re already climbing into the 50s. However, despite lots of sunlight during the summer, temperatures rarely rise above 80 degrees. As a result of this generally cooler growing climate, the grapes that survive are tenacious and thick-skinned, which results in lots of trapped acidity, low sugar (hence lower alcohol), and unique flavors from the natural chemical components that grapes growing in cooler temperatures retain when they shut down for the evenings. 
Aerial view of Velke Bilovice and surrounding vineyards
Because most varietals grown in the Czech Republic are not native to the geography, the effect of the terroir on the varietals can be measured by comparing their wines to those made by their genetic counterparts in their native lands, such as Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch in Germany and Austria, and Pinot Noir and Merlot in France.
The Dornfelder varietal is especially interesting because it is only 67 years old as it was created by a German oenologist, August Herold, in 1956, with the German terroir in mind, by crossing the Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe varietals. Its dark, thick skin make it ideal for growing in climates with cooler temperatures, and it ripens early enough to avoid Autumns that turn cold too quickly.
Jan and Miroslav Kachina, father and son.

Featured April Amaro Wine Club CZECH wine: Vinarství Jediny Sud Moravske Dornfelder Rivaner Sud (2018)
VARIETALS: Dornfelder

Jan Kachyna and Miroslav Kachyna are a father and son duo originally from Velké Bílovice. They work their vineyards without using chemical pesticides and they religiously adhere to a document called Charta Autentistu, which was created, and is updated, by winemakers in the region as a communal guide for winemakers dedicated to making natural, organic wine.
The Kachynas macerate the Dornfelder grapes with their skins for 10 days and allow fermentation to happen spontaneously with wild yeast. The wine is then aged in oak barrels for three years. In the first year, it sits on its fine lees, which are then removed for the remaining two years.

FOOD PAIRINGS: poultry, pork, baked ham, chicken casseroles, grilled cod, fancy pizza, cheeses with bloomy rinds or washed rind cheese, such as Camembert


The village of Kobylí is about an hour drive north of Velké Bílovice, but instead of hundreds of vineyards, it is dominated by a few large, conventional wineries. What makes the wine that we selected unique is that the owners are not in the least bit of this large conventional ilk. They are dedicated to farming biodynamically and making wine as naturally and with as little intervention as possible.

Jakub and Zuzana Herzán are brother and sister, and essentially were thrust into managing an estate without much experience. Their father started the vineyards in 1997 and died unexpectedly in 2012. Luckily both had a passion for the land and winemaking. In fact, Jakub had just begun studying winemaking at a college where he became enamored with the natural wine movement and sustainable farming. He also became enamored with a fellow student, Sandra, who has since joined the Herzán siblings to manage the estate and winery. Only four years into running the estate, Jakub purchased four qvevri in Georgia, which he increasingly employs to age some of Herzánovi’s wines with their skins in the ancient traditional Georgian method of making both red and white wines. The threesome have been steadily implementing biodynamic methods with their eye on biodynamic certification, and have even co-founded the Czecho-Slovak branch of Demeter, the agency recognized worldwide as the gold standard certifier for biodynamic farming.
Allowing  indigenous vegetation to grow naturally in the vineyards is key to biodynamic farming
The youngsters Zusana, Sandra, and Jake
Featured April Amaro Wine Club CZECH wine: Vina Herzanovi Pet Nat (2021)
VARIETALS: St Laurent, Cabernet Moravia

Following the lead of these daring winemakers, we decided to also be unconventional by selecting a sparkling wine from their portfolio to showcase in the Wine Club. Of course, keeping in line with their natural winemaking, the sparkling wine is made in the petillant naturel method, also known as “pet nat”. For those who are not familiar with this method for making sparkling wine, simply put, a pet nat is the original, natural way of making wine with carbonation. In fact, another term is méthode ancestrale, the “ancestral method.” Essentially, the wine is bottled while it is still in the process of fermenting and it finishes fermenting in the bottle. The yeast consumes all of the sugar for a bone dry effect, and the dead yeast residue settles to the bottom to add character to the taste profile. But more importantly, the fermentation process produces residue carbon dioxide that is trapped in the closed bottle giving the wine its bubbles.

The two red grape varietals for this wine were harvested by hand. The St Laurent varietal is native to Austria, and Cabernet Moravia is a cross of a French varietal, Cabernet Franc, and an Austrian varietal Zweigelt. The latter earns its name because it is mostly grown in Moravia where it thrives. Jakub and company macerate the grapes together for a few hours and gently press the juice into bottles while it is still fermenting. As a pet nat, it is never disgorged or fined, yet it has a refreshingly clean palate. Bring this to the park, but to a special gathering in the park as it’s not your run-of-the-mill pet nat.

FOOD PAIRINGS: pizza, gouda-style goat cheese, Camembert, cured sausages, prosciutto, hors d'oeuvres crackers, petit toasts, pistachios, raspberry vinegar pickled onions.


Hodonice is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive west from Kobylí. Where Kobylí and Velké Bílovice are close to Slovakia and the far east part of Austria, Hodonice is much more further away from Slovakia and just north of middle Austria. Martin Vaj?ner comes from a family of winegrowers with a centuries-long long history. There is a written record dated 1634 of his family tending vineyards in Moravia. In fact, Martin’s father is the director of one of the largest wine-producing companies in the country. Martin, however, took a different path than his father and pursued natural winemaking after studying under and being influenced by natural winemaking pioneers Jaroslav Osicka and Dobrá Vinice. He now farms a medley of terroirs and carefully selects varietals that he thinks best fit the different terroirs. And his girlfriend Monika works at the estate as a wedding planner specializing in vineyard ceremonies.

In his grandfather’s old underground cellar, his grapes are crushed by foot on the ground floor and left on their skins for hours or weeks, depending on the style of wine that is sought. Afterwards the grapes are pressed, and the juice is allowed to flow by gravity into the cellar underneath to ferment in various types of vessels, but never stainless steel because Martin does not want the wine to lose its natural aromas during the fermentation process. He only uses steel tanks for the final “blend and rest” period before bottling.
Featured April Amaro Wine Club CZECH wine: Vinarstvi Martin Vajcner Morava Chardonnay (2021)
VARIETALS: Chardonnay

Martin’s team hand-picks the Chardonnay grapes, crushes them by feet, and macerates them with their skins for 12 hours. They are fermented and matured in French and Austrian oak barrels. No filtration, no fining, and no sulfur is added. This is an expression of Chardonnay that we guarantee you have not experienced yet.

FOOD PAIRINGS: anchovies, sauerkraut, red tuna tartare, Beaufortcheese, aged Comte cheese, Arctic charr, avocado with salmon, barbecued grilled chicken, beef curry
Martin and Monika tending to their vines