Q1: In Kongres Magazine, we presented the Slovak National Collection of Wines in 2019. We believe that since then, there has been a slew of novelties. Can you tell us what you have been up to?
The Slovak National Collection of Wines is a world-unique concept. The wines are selected in a wine competition, which is a complicated process. The collection is changed every October when guests can try the top 100 new Slovak wines. There are only two such world wineries that work this way.
The selected wines can be tasted in guided wine tastings with a professional sommelier who explains the fascinating facts about the smell and taste of the wines. Guests can also try the most popular program: 72 wines in 100 minutes. The wines are placed in 5 rooms, and guests choose what they want to try. It is not about getting drunk but about exploring a wide selection of Slovak grape varieties and 6 Slovak wine regions. Visitors can try sparkling wines in the traditional method. Did you know Slovakia was among the first countries to produce sparkling wines in the traditional way after France? Drinking traditional sparkling wines is a big thing in Slovakia. Visitors can try light varieties, Rieslings, pinots, and Sauvignons. In the third room, more aromatic wines and roses await – the pride of Slovakia: they have won numerous international wine competitions. The last room is filled with red wines.
For more demanding wine lovers, we have a program named The wine lover program. It includes a selection of 6 wines of premium quality. You can taste premium sparkling wines, white blends, red blends, and rose wines. In the end, guests can taste Tokaj or iced wine or straw wine, a staple of Slovakian winemaking.
Q2: You are the central point for visitors from abroad to learn about the Slovak wine culture and history. Where do your guests come from? How well do foreign visitors know Slovak wines?
We have visitors from all over the world. They usually find us online and are surprised by the high quality and intriguing taste of Slovak wines. Most of the time, they are not aware that Slovakia is a wine country. Still, Slovakia as a wine destination is not promoted enough.
Q3: Do you see increased interest from specific markets or countries?
Before the pandemic hit, we had a colourful mix of visitors: from British and American guests to visitors from Scandinavian countries and Germany. In the summertime, we have more visitors from Spain, Italy, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It is a mixture of wine lovers from all over the world. Perhaps we have detected a decline in Americans visiting us and noticed more visits from Europeans. Of course, Slovak locals are coming, too.
Q4: If you are the first stop, which wine regions or wineries do you recommend to your guests as the next stop?
As the Small Carpathian wine region is the nearest, people spend more time around Bratislava: Rača, Svätý Jur, Pezinok, and Modra. At Nitra wine region, they do a lot of wine promotion of their region, so I suppose they might have some tourists. Tokaj region is equally impressive, as it is the second oldest wine appellation in the world.
Q5: What kind of programmes do you offer for companies and incentive groups?
We are offering the same programs for companies and individuals. Most of the time, companies only want wine tastings in private, outside of opening hours. They can try either eight wines in a guided wine tasting or 72 wines in 100 mins. The Wine Lover program is gaining fans, too, a more premium experience for those who want to explore more expensive Slovak wines.
Q6: You are the organiser of the biggest wine competition in Slovakia. When is the next edition, and what are your expectations?
We recently hosted the 1st round of the Slovak National Wine Competition, so we have a fresh new collection of fresh sparkling wines, frizzanté, and light muscadet varieties. The 2nd round is in September, so we are going to have a brand new collection of Rieslings, Pinots, new Slovak grape varieties, and new red wines. We never know which wines make it here, so it is always a welcome surprise and beauty of this concept that you never know which winemakers will win. We are always glad to welcome boutique winemakers.
Q7: Which are the top three wines you would recommend in the summer?
Summertime is definitely about freshness. I would recommend sparkling wines made in the traditional way and perhaps something more premium, maybe Opus from Zámocké vinárstvo or Sparkling wines from Mrva & Stanko or Matyšák. Their taste is out of this world. And, of course, rose wines: light, fresh, creamy ones. Finally, I recommend Muller Thurgau – light and citrusy. Umami during summertime!