I was first introduced to Arielle by Alzbeta Gala - the other half of the Gala winery team - through a video of Arielle tasting and reviewing the Gala Welschriesling Hermes. My first reaction was, “Yes! Another American gets it!” Besides Heidi and myself, of course. The “it” in this case is Moravian wine from Czechia (aka the Czech Republic).
Arielle DeSoucey is the founder of Civil Wines. Dedicated to educating the English speaking community on Moravian wines, I quickly realized we may be soul-sisters in our passion (ok maybe obsession) for Czech wines. Once we connected, we realized we could talk all day about Moravian wines together.
She recently co-authored a brilliant article in the Council for European Studies’ Europe Now Journal with her sister Michaela DeSoucey, Associate Professor of Sociology at NC State. The article is a comprehensive review of the Czech wine industry in South Moravia including its rich history. Below is an excerpt from the article as a quick introduction. I encourage you to read the full article and learn why the Czech wine industry is vibrant and entering the international stage with gusto.
Nestled in the southeast corner of Czechia, South Moravia is located on the western tip of the Carpathian Mountains and at the foot of the Danube river. For the last thirty years, winemakers in this picturesque region have committed themselves to a massive undertaking: to reinvent their country’s wine industry. The politics of the twentieth century ravaged the Czech wine market—one that had proved prosperous in earlier centuries. Waves of devastation caused by World Wars I and II, Soviet occupation, and subsequent government control by the Czech Communist Party prevented any form of modern, commercial winemaking or independent vineyard ownership as we know it today. This left semi-permanent scars on the communities and vineyards of South Moravia, that have recently begun to heal, giving way to a blossoming and competitive wine market.
It is only since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that this region’s wine industry has been able to evolve from a state-owned and operated industry into its modern-day enterprise. . . . Thanks in part to governmental and foreign financial subsidies, this industry is now brimming with innovation and education. Moravian winemakers are experimenting with drastic overhauls of their wineries and vineyards, challenging the status quo in terms of grape varieties planted, and pushing the boundaries of traditional winemaking. They are earning accolades in international wine competitions in both Europe and North America, which they had earlier been forbidden to even enter.
Looking to compete on a larger scale in international markets, Czechia is now promoting South Moravia’s wine region to an entirely new level. After 1990, this dynamic revolution has been propelled by the winemakers’ freedom to communicate and travel outside of the Soviet bloc to consult with university-based viticulturalists, marketing professionals, and foreign producers in neighboring European countries. According to Master of Wine Liz Thatch, “After emerging from forty years of Soviet rule, where many of their ancient vineyards were torn out to grow wheat and corn, there is a spirit of fierce independence and entrepreneurship among young winemakers who want the freedom to experiment and not be tied to a signature wine product.” Scholars of new markets well-recognize the need for ventures within an emergent industry to coordinate strategically in navigating their social, cultural, and political environments. And indeed, today, winemakers in South Moravia are proving that they are unconstrained by the gravity of their past, and are instead forging ahead to develop their own Moravian identity in their wines, aiming for European and global recognition.
Read the full article now! >>>