I´m normally not a big fan of botanical gardens, being able to recognize only the most common of plants. If a botanical garden has its own vineyard, though, it becomes more interesting. And if it produces wines from the locally grown grapes and sells them in a wine shop within the garden itself, then I´m even willing to climb the steep hill it is on.
Prague might not be the perfect place to explore the Czech wine culture, but it does hide a few wine gems. St. Claire´s vineyard is definitely one of them. It is now a part of the local Botanical Garden, located on a sunny hillside overlooking the capital city, and it is a home to some rather pleasing wines.
Wines with a view
St. Claire´s vineyard (Vinice Svaté Kláry) is one of the last few remainders of Prague´s past glory as the “city of wine” it was considered to be until the 17th century. The vineyard itself has a long history most likely dating to the 13th century and, being situated at the northern edge of the city, it offers a great view over the capital.
As with most great views (and vineyards), you of course have to go up (and up and up) to get to it, but at least in the case of St. Claire´s vineyard, you can reward yourself with a nice cool glass of white, served at the wine bar right in the middle of the vineyard. The bar is also the only place where you can taste and buy the local wines, most of which are very light, crisp and fresh. They include Müller Thurgau, Sauvignon, Riesling or Moravian Muscat. They might not be as aromatic as I would like, but the wines we tasted were nicely balanced and refreshing.
How to get there?
If you´d like to visit (and drink in) the St. Claire´s vineyard, you simply have to search for one of the entrances to the Prague Botanical Garden, which is situated next to the Prague´s zoo. An easy way to reach it is by public transport (bus 112). To enter, you have to buy a ticket that is valid for the entire Botanical Garden, the vineyards included.
Being part of the Garden´s regular exposition, St. Claire´s vineyard also includes educational track with boards informing visitors about different aspects of growing and producing wines. You will also get to see vines that are otherwise hard to find in Europe. The rest of the Botanical Garden is also worth a while, but be prepared for a bit of an uphill hike. Then again – it´s a great excuse to drink in the middle of the day!