Poland is not a leading market in the wine business and never will be. However, wine production in the country is currently a tiny industry. There also exists an active amateur winery and viticulture scene in the regions of Podkarpacie (in the southeast), lubuskie - close to the city of Zielona Góra in the west, Wrocław in the southwest, Kraków in the south and Kazimierz Dolny in the east. Although there is no official register, it is estimated that there are about 1,000 of hectares of vineyards today. The passionate meet on yearly wine convents, present and evaluate their wines, exchange their experience.
What are other renowned Polish vineyards?
The list of the most renowned Polish vineyards (according to my friend, no official statistic):
- Srebrna Góra
- Pałac Mierzęcin
- Winnica nad Jarem
- Winnica Stara Winna Góra
- Winnice Wzgórz Trzebnickich
- Winnica Solaris
- Winnica Miłosz
How come Poles make wines?
One should search for the answer in history. In a distant past, wines were made on the territories of Old Poland. The wine was produced there in the Middle Ages (after the Christianization in the 10th century). At the beginning it was probably made by monasteries, later on by nobles and rich inhabitants of the cities. My friend Wojciech Bosak, a wine passionate, a juror and a renowned wine expert in Poland (link to his blog) is of the opinion that the oldest vineyard was founded in Kraków, in the 10th century, close to the royal Wawel castle. The culmination of wine production was in the 13thand 14th centuries. Until today there are villages and little towns in Poland which name are derived from the word "wine" which in Polish is “wino”. In the 16th century, when beer and vodka (gorzałka) became more popular, wine production started to decrease. Moreover, at a certain point in time, cheap imports of wines from countries where wine making was easier, most notably Hungary, was one of the reasons why the production of wine in the Old Poland started to die slowly. Then, the long wars of the 17th century destroyed Polish vineyards. In the 18th century, people started to experiment again with wine production. It was due to the development of gardening and plantation rules and scientific discoveries. The economic crisis after 1863 forced land owners to focus on other types of productions. Strong winters at that time destroyed again the attempts of winemakers. In the 20th century, the trend to create vineyards was suddenly disturbed by WW2. After 1945 the Polish borders were changed. Poland lost its eastern territories and gained some in the west. For example Zielona Góra had strong traditions in wine making in the past (sparkling wine was produced there in a similar method than French Champagne and accounted to about 800,000 bottles per year). After 1945, communists decided to continue wine production; however it appeared to be a total disaster in the state owned enterprises.
The habit to drink young wines in Europe comes from the Middle Ages. St. Martin de Tours, who lived in the 4th century, was the patron of wine makers, and the guardian of cattle and geese. That was the time of the establishment of the first vineyards in Galia. The cult of St Martin erupted in Germany and then became popular in other European countries (today's Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary). This young wine was usually served with goose meat, which is supposed to be the best in November.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an event promoting young Polish wine ("wino świętomarcińskie" or "wine for St. Martin’s"). It was organized by Slowfood Polska and the owners of the second largest Polish vineyard "Srebrna Góra" (which in English means "The Silver Mountain"). They decided to create a trend for drinking young Polish wines. They have an idea to make an alternative to French Beaujolais Nouveau, which is popular in Poland, but usually not good at all.
We tasted white wines and red wines from Srebrna Góra. Both were created by the best Polish enologist – Agnieszka Wyrobek Rousseau. The white wine (Solaris and Siegerebe), which was semi-dry, met an enthusiastic reception (the vineyard produced only 400 bottles of this wine, so it was practically not available in the stores). However, I preferred the red wine (Rondo and Acolon). This wine should go well with food (in particular with goose meat). The vineyard produced 3,000 bottles of the last one and they have been available on the web store wina.pl.
The vineyard is located in a historical area, on the slope of Srebrna Góra (The Silver Mountain) of the historical monastery of the Camaldolese monks in Bielany. In this area the vineyard tradition is nearly one thousand years old (the first comments about wine making come from the 10th century). The Camaldolese are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century.
With its 12 hectares, this vineyard is the second largest in Poland, located in the picturesque valley of the Wisła River. The orientation to the south guarantees appropriate exposure to the sun. On the other hand it is naturally protected by the forest called “Wolski”.
This vineyard would not be successful if it was not established by total passionate people. The motto of the owners is their love for wine. It may sound a bit naïve, as probably most of small wine producers make wine because they love wine, and not vodka or beer. They want to create top quality wines, full of emotions, dreams and passions.
Where to buy those wines from Srebrna Góra?
The wines of Srebrna Góra may be bought on line here.
If you are in Kraków, you can try to find them in several places – restaurants and wine bars which have been mushrooming lately in town. For sure you will find the wine in Da Pietro restaurant (on the Market Square) as it is ran by the owners of the vineyard. The other places: Vintage Restauracja & Winiarnia (on the Market Square); Lipowa 6F wine bar on Zabłocie District (close to the Schindler’s factory); and also: restaurant Szara at the Main Market Square and Konfederacka wine bar.