Having become increasingly impressed with the wines of Czechia over the past three or four years I had set my heart on visiting Moravia in 2020. There was no better occasion to do so than for the annual Autentikfest. The festival takes place in August and it not only showcases the Czech natural winemakers who are members of the Moravian-based Autentiste movement, but it aims to include other producers with the same philosophies from neighbouring countries and regions.
Sadly a visit in 2020 was not to be for me, the pandemic curtailing all my travel plans. However, Jiri Majerik and his wife Zainab, from London’s Czech specialist importer Basket Press Wines, were able to make it. I thought that as these wines are getting much better known in the UK, and creating a bit of a stir in particular with the sommelier community, readers would enjoy some reporting on the event. Zainab kindly agreed to write something, and to send over some photos, perhaps to whet a few appetites for next year. So over to Zainab…
“A natural wine festival in the Czech Republic may have sounded rather foreign to many a few years ago, but thankfully this has changed recently. Having been asked to write about one here on Wideworldofwine is proof that there is growing interest and a thirst to get to know the wines of this country in more depth.
The Autentikfest Moravia, in its sixth edition now, takes place every year on the second Saturday of August, from 11 am to 10 pm. The festival is organised by the Autentiste Group, more information on them below. It is definitely what we look forward to every summer since we started Basket Press Wines in 2017. It attracts many visitors from around Europe and now it’s great to see that many UK folks are keen to make the journey too.
The vision of the Autentiste Group is to bring together all of the members and other natural wine producers from Central/Eastern Europe under one roof. This year, we saw Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, and, of course, Bohemia and Moravia from Czech Republic. The past 10 to 15 years has seen a significant rise in the number of Czech winemakers, many of whom form the Autentiste Group, who are steering away from making wines to please mass consumers. All the growers follow strict organic farming practices and intertwine biodynamic principles too. They also take a natural/low-intervention approach in winemaking that is not masking the fruit with any kind of additives or manipulation, allowing the wines to communicate where they are from and retain their unique sense of place.
Moravia can be easily connected via Brno, the main city in the southeast part of Czech Republic. Flights are available to Brno from London’s Stansted Airport, and then it’s only a short 40-minute drive and you can be in the heart of the winemaking region. Other alternatives include driving from neighbouring Bratislava in Slovakia, or from Vienna in Austria [Google Maps suggests approx 1 hour 45 mins from Vienna by car, 45 to 50 mins from Brno and around 1 hour 15 mins from Bratislava – Ed].
The festival takes place in the village of Boleradice in the Velkopavlovicka subregion. It takes place on a hill overlooking the village in the valley, in a beautiful courtyard dotted with traditional cellars, including Petr Korab’s cellar. Petr is one of the members of the Autentiste Group and the festival has been held here since its inception. Ask anyone and an outdoor tasting in the shade of the trees with vineyards surrounding the area sounds enticing enough to spend a hot summer day at. Even with ample accommodation in the village, booking early is recommended. One can also opt to camp out, right by the festival site. With unlimited supply of food from stands set up by restaurants, who also focus on sourcing their ingredients with care, you won’t go hungry.
The Autentikfest leaves you feeling relaxed and has a lovely laid back feel to it. The visitors to this festival usually also show a great understanding of the wines and seem to really savour and enjoy the day rather than rush it. The continuous supply of food and water tanks can keep you going until the last hours. Not guaranteeing any lack of heavy headedness the next day, but at least, you know you have drunk well and been poured wines by some of the most exciting Central European winemakers on the scene.
A list of all the winemakers who poured their wines on the day can be found here: http://autentikfest.cz ” [click on the left hand button on the top row – that’s Introduction, or Uvod if you haven’t hit translate – and scroll down to the producer list].