These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.


By James Thomson

    The National Wine Salon in Pezinok.
 The National Wine Salon in Pezinok.
 Photos by James Thomson

Several visitor attractions in this small, leafy town play to its strength as a local centre of viticulture; in addition there are numerous bars and restaurants serving the local vintages.

The Little Carpathians Museum (Malokarpatské Múzeum), which is in a typical wine merchant's house in the centre of the town, was undergoing a major renovation in 2008 and promises to be one of the best small museums in Slovakia.

It has the biggest collection of wine presses in central Europe, some of them gigantic wooden affairs dating from the early seventeenth century; the atmospheric old cellars of the building are partly given over to an exhibition of them.

But Martin Hrubala, the deputy director of the museum, is keen to make the museum not just about the old but also the new: the entrance fee includes a wine-tasting, accompanied by a sommelier. And the museum promises interactivity at a level unusual for Slovak museums. Visitors, for instance, as well as tasting wine will also get the opportunity to make their own.

Pezinok seems to have been investing heavily in public facilities lately: the city museum, in a building opposite the Little Carpathians Museum, opened in 2003. It features a range of attractively presented local archaeological finds and a selection of stonework salvaged from nearby churches; labelling, however, is in Slovak only.

And at the northern end of the city centre, next to a park which once formed its landscaped grounds, is Pezinok Castle. Originally a moated fortress which was later turned into a chateau for the aristocratic Pálffy family, the cellars of the castle are now home to the National Wine Salon.

This was established in 2006, with EU assistance, to support and promote all six of Slovakia's wine-making regions. The cellars have long been used for wine storage: in the Pálffys' time they could hold more than a million litres, and still contain 46 (empty) wooden barrels, each with a capacity of over 2,000 litres. The largest are used as small rooms to serve wine and food to visitors.

    A wooden wine press in Pezinok’s Little Carpathians Museum.
 A wooden wine press in Pezinok’s Little Carpathians Museum.
 Photos by James Thomson

The salon stocks around 100 of what are reckoned by experts to be the best of each year's Slovak labels (the selection is renewed each September). Visitors can choose to sample three whites and three reds or, for a higher fee, anything from the entire stock. For wine buffs, or anyone wanting to get a taste for all Slovakia's viticultural variety in historic surroundings, the salon is definitely worth a taste.

If instead you would prefer to try the wine at source, there are a number of vineyards open to the public. One of them, the family-owned Karpatská Perla label, erected a swish new winery and visitor centre in 2008 just outside the town of Šenkvice. The winemakers are often on hand to talk about their creations.

Alternatively, there are two 'Days of Open Cellars', one in May and the other in November, during which almost all the Little Carpathian winemakers allow visitors to turn up and sample their wines. Tickets for these days are very popular, so book ahead.


February: Etnofestival (Ethnofestival) Festival focused on ethno culture, discussions with travellers, various concerts (Pezinok)

March: Voľba kráľovnej vína (Wine Queen Contest)Wine queen then represents Little Carpathian region on various regional contests connected with wine degustation (Pezinok)

April: Vínne trhy (Wine Market) International contest and wine degustation. (Pezinok)

June: Keramické trhy (Pottery Market) Presentation of unique pottery styles from different regions around Slovakia (Pezinok)

August: Pezinský Permoník (Pezinok Mine Dwarf)Little Carpathian exhibition of minerals, fossils and precious stones

September: Malokarpatský strapec (Little Carpathian Tassel) International competition in show jumping (Pezinok)

December: Vianočné trhy (Christmas market) Typical Christmas market in Pezinok and Modra with wide variety of products such as wooden toys, gingerbread, hot toddy, embroideries

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2009, which you can obtain from our online shop.

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