For the Western Slovakian estate Slobodné Vinárstvo (loose translation: ‘Free Winemaking’), the essence that undergirds their delicious project is one of recovery, of recuperation. Several generations back, their family was the proud proprietor of a highly impressive manor which housed a successful tobacco operation in the village Zemianske Sady, a Slovakian town found in the Danubian Lowlands, within reach of the River Váh and the foothills of the Little Carpathians. In this humble village, their family cultivated wines from Slovakian grapes that were genetically fit for such a climate. Perhaps, over a century ago, you could have seen their great-uncle Maximilian Schwarz lost in concentration while he inspected the budbreaks on a Kadarka vine, the Váh roiling nearby, swollen with spring’s Carpathian meltwater. Unfortunately, prolonged war and the state co-option of their property under communism meant it would be more than a century later that they would re-gain ownership. Their wines at once reflect this history and cast it into the future-present; playful, curious, modern renditions of Slovakian classics re-discovered. For sisters Kat Kuropkova and Agnes Lovecka – and their partners Miso and Andrea – this noble project reminds me of a passage from W.S. Merwin’s famed wine-adjacent story collection The Lost Upland: "The place itself was a memory that I was recovering… inch by inch, root by root… Every day it was strange to me to realize that I was letting the light in, and that as I did so the colors emerged without hesitation from where they had always been."
Biodynamic and organic farming. A blend of Gruner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc, fermented with wild hops (!!!) picked from Slobodne's own forest. Grapes are from 10-35 year old vines and are grown on loess and calcium soil. Hand-harvested and fermented with hops, using indigenous yeasts. Unfined, unfiltered, with no SO2.