The Castle Vineyard

In the past, all important towns, castles or mansions were supplied with goods from the immediate vicinity. Transport links were poor and logistics were difficult, so in many respects people had to rely on their own resources. Throughout Europe, there were vineyards that supplied the local population with wine, even in places where the conditions for viticulture were not favourable.

The medieval Parisian vineyards in Montparnasse are very well known, but the vineyard at the Prague Castle in the Hradčany district is perhaps even more famous. The Prague Castle is also known by the fact that, in 1920, it was rearranged by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik, who provided plans for the southern side of the upper part of the Deer Moat and Belvedere, as well as the Paradise Garden and the Rampart Garden. Plečnik’s work is described by Prof. Dr France Stele in his study Jože Plečnik in Hradčany. The Hradčany vineyard produces the Czech protocol wine Hibernal, which is a cross of Rhine Riesling and Siebel, and is known under the brand name Pražský Hrad – Jižní Záhrady (Prague Castle – Southern Gardens).

Ljubljana also had a vineyard on the slopes of the Castle Hill. Its remains were recognised in archaeological excavations on the southern slope on the right below the Bastion, where a vineyard still existed in the 1930s. This is further evidenced by the photo on a postcard by France Kunc, who resided at 6 Wolfova ulica in Ljubljana. The postcard was sent to Maribor on 9 September 1931, some 85 years ago, and is held in the private collection of Zmago Tančič.

Planted on 23 April 2016, the Castle Vineyard at the Ljubljana Castle is the result of a desire to revive traditions and enrich the stories of wine and grapevines, as Ljubljana is recognised in high oenological circles as a city of grapevines and wine. Ljubljana is also the holder of a flattering recognition awarded by the international association of wine from Paris, L’Office International de la Vigne et du Vin, at its meeting in Rome on 30 October 1987.

The Castle Vineyard is planted with 1050 vines: 500 vines of the white variety Belpin, which is based on cross of Belina and Pinot, and is the Slovenian synonym for Chardonnay; and 550 vines of the red variety Rdečegrajc, whose name is a translation of the original denomination of the variety Rotburger, which in 1975 was renamed Zweigelt. Wine from the Castle Vineyard will be mainly destined for promotion, protocol and the Castle Wine Cellar. The selection of both varieties was undertaken by experts from the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, who also collaborated in planting the Castle Vineyard and will participate in wine production in the future.

The Castle Vineyard was established in the year that the Slovenian capital boasted the title Ljubljana, European Green Capital 2016, and the first harvest took place in 2018.

With the Castle Vineyard, the Ljubljana Castle also nicely complements the existing wine story at events associated with the offspring of the oldest grapevine from Lent in Maribor, which grows in the Castle Courtyard.

 

The Castle Grapevine

The castle grapevine has been grown from a graft of the oldest noble vine in the world, growing in Lent in Maribor. It bears grapes of the Blue Franconian variety (Modra Kavčina or Žametna Črnina, also known as Žametovka, Plava Velka, Kosavina, Blauer Kölner, Bleu de Cologne, Gross Milcher and Blauer Milcher).

The citizens of Maribor donate grafts according to specific rules, and have made numerous donations to cities, squares and villages, as well as to individuals in Slovenia and abroad. The vine has grown at the Ljubljana Castle since 30 September 1990, and is located on the right side of the entrance to the Castle Courtyard and along the wall of the viewing terrace next to the Archers’ Tower.

Wine from the grapes of the castle grapevine is produced with the participation of the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia and kept in bottles with a special label, placed in a gift box. It is used as a special protocol gift of the city of Ljubljana. Amongst others, a bottle of this wine was presented to the English royal couple, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, on 22 October 2008, on the occasion of their visit to Ljubljana.

 

The Wine Convent of St Urban in Ljubljana

The Honourable Wine Convent of St Urban Ljubljana was established on 11 November 1993. It is named after St Urban, the patron saint of grapevines, whose name day is celebrated on 25 May. The Wine Convent maintains, develops and fosters respect and care for grapevines and wine. Special attention is given to the role and importance of wine in nutritional culture and in culture in general. Members of the Convent, or conventuals, link various forms of educational and social activities with learning about Slovenian and world wines, thus enhancing the wine and beer culture as well as strengthening the economic, social and spiritual dimensions of individual wine regions. The Honourable Wine Convent brings together conventuals of various professional orientations. Each in his or her own professional field endeavours to discover noble links with wine, cuisine and gastronomy, in different periods of historical development as well as in the present. The original seat of the Honourable Wine Convent of St Urban Ljubljana was at the Ljubljana Town Hall, but since 2000 the Convent has been based at the Ljubljana Castle, as testified by a commemorative plaque on the outside wall of the Archers’ Tower.