SLOBODNE – Zemianske Sady, Hlohovec, Slovakia Slobodne are a winery and farm located about an hour’s drive east of Bratislava. The history of the estate is quite fascinating. Today’s winemakers are making wine in the same cellar as their great great great uncle was in the early 1900s.
Back then the wines were called ‘Traja Boxeri,’ or ‘Three Boxers,’ named so after the winemaker’s three dogs. The wines were quite popular especially amongst the artist and creative scene in Prague and Bratislava and the farm prospered in the early part of the 20th century. However it all took a tragic turn during WW2 – the family is Jewish, and they all ended up in concentration camps, with only one member of the family making it back alive in 1945. He tried to get the farm running again, but was faced with losing everything again 3 years later in 1948 when communism took over everything.
The history picks up again in 1989 when communism fell. At this time, the government gave its people a 3-year window to produce any evidence of land or property that might have belonged to their families or ancestors. The current winemakers’ parents succeeded in claiming back the farm in the early 90’s, and have spent the last 20+ years rebuilding the ecosystem, replanting vines, resurrecting crumbling buildings, and creating what is now a bustling 350ha farm. They grow wheat, barley, rapeseed, linseed, they tend to livestock, chickens, horses, bees, and of course vines (17 hectares).
In 2009, their children (two sisters, Agnes and Katarina) decided to leave their life in the city (Bratislava) as well as their work as accountants and lawyers to return to the farm and become full-time farmers and winemakers, along with their two partners Andrea and Miso (their logo is a representation of this lifestyle change). One year later they started Slobodne, which means ‘freedom’ in Slovak, or ‘free winery’, in homage to the estate’s long and fractured history.
The four of them (now in late 30’s) are still running the farm and making the wines, and are continuously pushing boundaries in their experiments with natural wines. They have a particular focus on various skin-contact wines, and were recently the first winery in Slovakia to start working with Georgian qvevri (stay tuned for those wines).
Winemaker: Agnes Lovecka & Mišo Kuropka
Region: Hlohovec region, within Lesser Carpathian, Slovakia (Malokarpatska)
Grapes: 100% Grüner Veltliner
Sulphur: 15mg/l (total)
Suitable for vegans: Yes
Altitude: 150m Total Area
Farmed: 17 hectares
Soils: Sedimented soils, loess and clay.
Age of vines: Average of 10 years
Viticulture: Organic (noncertified). As of 2017 Slobodne are now also part of the Demeter (biodynamic) Arbeitsgruppe Waldviertelthe group from Austria.
Vineyards: All of the grapes are estate-grown in their village of Zemianske Sady. Their 17 hectares of vines are a small part of their 350ha farm, where they tend to livestock and also grow poppies, barley, wheat, rapeseed, and more. In this warm 2015 vintage, the Gruner Veltliner grapes were picked early to maintain a beautiful acidity. The skin contact ensures concentration and texture.
Vinification: The grapes were mostly destemmed and then fermented on their skins for 2 weeks in open casks outside with regular punchdowns. Following fermentation the wine was pressed and transferred into old barrels of various sizes (Moravian oak and acacia), where it spent two years.
Tiny sulphite addition before bottling, unfined and unfiltered.
Total production = 1000 bottles