Friday, May 16, 2008

Viniční Altán at Vila Grébovka (The Vineyard Gazebo at Gröbe’s Villa)

"It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one's present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason."
-Latin Proverb
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the sunny days of early May after the long, gray winter.

We took great advantage of the beautiful weather on the May 8th national holiday and walked over to Havlíčkovy Sady. For those not in the know, it's a hilly park between Vinohrady and Vršovice.

Central to the park is Vila Grébovka. Most people actually refer to the park as Grébovka. It sits atop its own working vineyard.The Neo-Renaissance villa was built as a summer home for industrialist Moritz Gröbe in the 1870s.It sat decaying for many years, but a complete renovation was completed in 2007. It is now the home of the non-profit Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI).

The institute organizes training for lawyers, judges, and others committed to law reform and democratization. The villa looks beautiful from the outside, but the house itself is not usually open to the public.

A friend who was inside recently for a conference said it is "amazing" and they did a very nice job restoring the interior.

Right underneath the villa is a reconstructed gazebo, Viniční Altán, where you can sit and drink the vineyard's wines and enjoy some light snacks.

Which we did.There aren't too many tables, maybe around 12 outside and a few inside.

It was a holiday, and many were empty. But that's unusual on nice spring and summer evenings. Often, none are open. Note: You have been warned.Above the terrace area, the top of the gazebo has a beautiful carved wood ceiling.

This area is not usually open to the public. But it is often used for weddings and other special events.The view of the Nusle Valley was lovely on a sunny day. Especially because the green, leafy trees obscure some of the less attractive parts of the Nusle Valley.Before I got to the wine, I started out with a non-wine-related beverage.

It was noon, and I really wanted a beer.

The choices available on tap are far from my favorites. They had only Staropramen and Stella Artois on tap.

Instead, I ordered a Hoegaarden. The weissbier came in a tiny .33 liter bottle (35 CZK). So, I had two.

It was refreshing start to the day.

V was in the mood for something wine-relate and had a glass of sekt or Czech "champagne" (60 CZK).

The small glass flute had a strawberry sitting across the top.

She also had some Mattoni sparkling water (25 CZK).

After these rounds, we decided to sample the wine.

They did have some international choices such as Jacob's Creek from Australia (120-360 CZK), Rutherford Ranch Vineyards from California (490 CZK), Italian wines (350-480 CZK), Argentinian (350 CZK) and more.

There was also a large selection of wines from all around the Czech Republic. Many were priced at 200-300 CZK for a .75 liter bottle.

V ordered a .25 liter carafe of the Rulandské šedé (70 CZK). She pronounced it "very nice." It was not anything special. Just light and drinkable.Oddly, looking at the menu on the Internet, I saw that only Rulandské modré costs 70 CZK, and the Rulandské šedé was 84 CZK. But the bill clearly says "GREB.RS 0.25L" and that it was 70 CZK.

On a previous visit, they were out of the Rulandské šedé. We tried something else from the Grébovka Vineyard. We didn't like it, but it was a while ago, and I can't remember what it was.

It being lunchtime, we also wanted some food. The menu was very limited. They mostly have desserts like ice cream, medovnik (honey cake), warm waffles with fruit, and a couple of other snacks. They have espresso, cappuccino, and such.

But they do have a couple of encased pork options.

V got the lahůdkové párky (deli hot dogs) for 46 CZK. There was a nice snap to the skin and decent-quality meat product inside.V said it was what Czechs usually call Viennese-style. Not bad as hot dogs go.

I went for the klobása (56 CZK). It's red skin was also pretty snappy.It was studded with fat beneath the skin, but I've had worse. I'd call it average and certainly edible. My last sausage on Wenceslas Square did not meet that standard.

Both of our plates came with ketchup, two types of mustard, and horseradish from a jar.

We also got a basket of sliced Czech bread. It was OK, but not super fresh.

I'll underline the obvious here: You don't really go to Viniční Altán for the food.

However, there are a number of other reasons to visit.

First and foremost is to take in a nice view on a nice day, along with some nice, cheap wine.

The question is, do you need another reason?

Viniční Altán
Havlíčkovy sady 1369 - Grébovka Vila
Prague 2
Tel. (+420) 222 516 887
GPS: 50°4'7.255"N, 14°26'39.607"E

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vinicni Altan also makes some interesting wine-tasting actions, but they unfortunately take place inside, in a new part of the building, which has very ugly interior. Btw. good place to have a Hoegaarden in Vrsovice is Mila Tchyne, on the corner of Minska and Orelska. They charge only 35 Kc for 0.5 litre from the tap and they've got Strongbow cider too. The place is smoky, noisy and crowded, they not cook at all, but it has some kind of free and relaxing atmosphere too.