Czech sparkling wine producer with sekt appeal

Bohemia Sekt, the Czech producer of bubbly that should lubricate the festive season, are preparing for the big test.

Photo: Bohemia SektPhoto: Bohemia Sekt Christmas and the New Year is the make or break period for the Plzeň-based producer with much of the year’s sparkling and still wine production and swallowed in the few weeks surrounding those events. In fact, around a third of annual turnover depends on the six weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

This year Bohemia Sekt is looking for record sales figures on the wine front though the end of its spirits sales will see the overall sales figure likely matching that of 2016. Last year Bohemia Sekt sold 28.5 million bottles of wine and spirits with overall turnover, including tax, coming to 1.8 billion crowns. It has around 70 percent of the local market with exports headed out to more than 30 countries around the world.

With a buoyant economy and Christmas bonuses for some, Czechs are expected to splash out more this year on festive alcohol. The average Czech consumes on average 20 litres of wine a year, with the proportion of still and sparkling while still fairly low nonetheless on the rise.

And this year’s Czech grape harvest, while final figures have not been given, suggests a standard crop but with higher quality than usual. A hot summer with limited rainfall translated into smaller but sweeter grapes and that should result in higher sugar content and more ‘body.’

Bohemia Sekt is seeking to have a bigger stake in the overall production process. At the moment its own vineyards, spread across around 520 hectares, supply around a third of its annual needs. But the company, owned by German foods giant Dr Oetker, would like to see that figure climb to 600 hectares in the near future.

A bubbling speculative market in land suitable for vineyards, especially in South Moravia, has presented problems in realising that goal with land prices often inflated in spite of the fact that they are often being held as an investment with no production taking place.

Production capacity at Bohemia Sekt’s own facilities has also been stepped up although the company still has to outsource a large share of it.