Sabile Wine Hill can be definitely considered the symbol of Sabile; moreover, you can see a bunch of grapes in the coat of arms of Sabile.
Sabile Wine Hill is unique, because it has been registered in Guinness Book of World Records as the most northern open-air vineyard in the world. The peak of the hill is approximately 34 metres above the city and the level of the Abava River.
The total area of the garden is 1.5 hectares. New vines are regularly being added to the existing ones, there are approximately 30 different varieties of vines and about 800 plants there. The majority of varieties have been created by the famous Latvian plant breeder Pauls Sukatnieks (1914-1989). The variety named “Zilga” is the most popular. You can also find such exotic plants as peaches, apricots and walnuts in the Wine Hill.
In 2018 the landscape of Abava River Valley from Sabile Wine Hill was chosen as one of the 50 Latvian landscape treasures in the project “Landscape treasures”.
Wine of the grapes from the Wine Hill of Sabile
It’s not possible to buy the wine of the grapes from the Wine Hill of Sabile because the Wine Hill belongs to local government and according to the Latvian laws it can’t sell alcohol. And the wine is made in small amounts. The Wine Festival at the end of July, which we celebrate since 1999, is the only possibility to taste this wine.
Sabile Wine Festival is celebrated during the last weekend of July since 1999 in honour of the town’s symbol – Sabile Wine Hill. Every year this festival attracts more and more visitors and guests, every year the number of various events occurring in this Festival increases, but there are some events that have become traditional.
The opening of this festival occurs at the foot of the Wine Hill and every year Jacob, the Duke of Courland also arrives with his retinue. Unique hill, unique wine, unique festival – all worth visiting!
History of the Wine Hill
Sabile Wine Hill has been formed twice: first in the German time (14th – 16th century) and after that it was completely restored in the period of Free State of Latvia in 1936. During the reign of Duke Jacob the grape crops in Sabile were supplemented with new varieties, so the grape growing has expanded. This was the time (middle of the 17th century) when people started to celebrate the formation of Sabile Wine Hill. The strong and sour Sabile Wine Hill wine was popular in the duchy court and also in other European countries it was exported to.
The revival of Sabile Wine Hill began in 1936. The initiator was the President of Latvia of that time Karlis Ulmanis. To prove that the Wine Hill was formed in the period of Free State of Latvia and has been productive, in the autumn of 1939 there was an exhibition named Latvian Grape Exhibition in Jelgava which was organised by Latvian Chamber of Agriculture. There you could find a small stand of the first harvest from the Sabile Wine Hill.
After the Second World War the Pure Gardening Experiment Station continued the arrangement of Sabile Wine Hill. Then the managers of the Wine Hill changed, work intensity decreased and later on the Wine Hill was not managed at all.
Because of the student enthusiasm Uldis Zommers started to restore Sabile Wine Hill in 1989.
On April 27th 1995 Sabile Wine Hill was honoured by the arrival of former President of Latvia Guntis Ulmanis.
On June 18th 2003 Latvian Minister of Agriculture Martins Roze signed a document where Latvian Ministry of Agriculture derives from the property rights of Wine Hill in favour of Sabile Country Council. Being the property of municipality Wine Hill is managed by the municipality – every summer a gardener and a helper work there.
Working hours and contact information of the Wine Hill
15 th May till 30th September: every day from 10.00 – 18.00, on Mondays 10.00 – 16.00. 1st October till 14th May: on Saturdays and Sundays closed, on working days please call +371 27841827 (Sabile Tourist Information Center, Pilskalna iela 6).
Entrance fee: From 20th August till 30th September: adults 1,50 EUR, children and pensioners 0,70 EUR. From 1st October till 19th August: adults 0,70 EUR, children and pensioners 0,40 EUR.