In Bohemia, wine-growing began to spread from the 10th century onwards, due especially to liturgical reasons. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, vineyards were mainly for monasteries and the nobility, generally in similar places to where we find wine grown today: mainly in South Moravia. Due to the more favourable climatic conditions, vineyards could for a period thrive even in Bohemia, but later, after a global cooling period, they died off again. Taking care of vines kept vintners occupied all year round, the vintage harvest taking place from October to November, depending on the weather.
Wine tended to be grown in places unsuitable for the cultivation of other plants, such as on rocky south-facing slopes. It could take three to four years to establish a vineyard, and it would be good for thirty to forty years. The grapes were harvested and put into vats where they were crushed by treading. White grapes were pressed immediately after crushing and the juice kept in wooden barrels, tarred and sanitized with sulphur, where the wine was left to ferment. Red grapes were crushed, the seeds removed, and left to ferment in open vats, stirred regularly. This produced what is termed the ‘mash’, and after a few days this was pressed and the juice poured into barrels.
King Charles IV was a great wine-lover, who imported grapevines from France together with wine-growing know-how, and granted numerous privileges to vintners.