Although we do not typically take organized tours, upon further research it became clear that we were not going to be able to get out of the city and see the Slovakian wine region on our own. Rental cars were prohibitively expensive and most of the winery websites we could find weren’t in English, so we had no way of knowing if they would even be open.
We were able to easily book the tour through the hotel for the next day and when we showed up at the designated spot, we discovered that we were the only people signed up—thus we had our very own private tour guide for the day!
Roman, our driver/guide, filled us in on some of the recent history of communism and all the steps toward rebuilding the city and even more importantly, the nation. Much of the farm lands were seized during the communist rule and by the time the property was returned to the families, the children were no longer farmers. This means much of the farm land is unused and overgrown, just waiting for development companies to name a good price.
Our first stop was a pottery shop in Modra where we got to see a potter, Miroslav, throw clay on a wheel. He showed us several different methods of creating these traditional vases, cups and dishes.
After leaving the studio at the back of the property, we visited the actual store where the painter was working to decorate the air-dried pieces which will then be fired. This woman had a very steady hand!
Our next stop was Hrad Červený Kameň (the red stone castle) which, as you can see in the photo below, was a little hard to see. It was very misty/rainy outside and we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, so it was mostly a history lesson.
We were looking forward to the next stop at a family owned winery because it meant being indoors for a spell. Ján Paták Mountain Winery is located at the end of the narrow winding road and we were treated to a tasting of four of his wines, three white and one red. We sampled a Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Devin and Blaufrankisch. Unfortunately for us, he didn’t speak English so our guide had to translate everything for us. Thankfully Roman knew a little about wine, so we probably got most of the story along with the tasty snacks.
The Bratislava Christmas markets started on Friday, so once we got back in town, my #1 goal was to try the traditional Slovakian honey wine, Medovina. We enjoyed this sweet wine with Lokse, crepes filled with nuts (for Eric) and chicken liver pate (for me). After visiting a few booths, we decided to pick up our luggage and head back to Vienna for the rest of our trip.