Viticultural Traditions and Local Memory

Katarína Popelková


This paper discusses the process of construction of representation of an urban

space as a socially determined phenomenon under the conditions of the postcommunist

transformation of Slovakia. The subject matter of the analysis is

the occurrence of facts from the viticultural past – a common feature of two

neighboring towns – in their current public discourse. On the basis of data

gather through archival-document study and ethnological field research, the

paper analyzes collective motivations in the process of construction of collective

memory and their linkages to concrete conditions of revitalization of private

entrepreneurship after 1989.

Klíčová slova

post-communist transformation, local memory, viticulture

One modality of ethnological reflection of the urban social world is to conceptualize

the thesis that the city is a phenomenon created by its inhabitants. They

create its vision and hand it down to future generations. Dynamic social, generational

and individual representations of the city anchor its inhabitants in

time. These representations influence their relations of the past, present and

prospects of the city to its material and spiritual dimensions.

In this paper I strive to describe forms and meanings of facts from the

past in the urban setting in Slovakia undergoing post-communist transformation.

I wish to show the principles of representation of the past in everyday life

and to reveal the social background of these representations. I base my discussion

on the concept of social memory, especially on Halbwachs’ ideas about

the social nature of remembering and meanings of concrete contents of shared

ideas about a group’s past (Halbwachs, 1994). I also strive to capture the logic

of these processes and their dynamics (Kiliánová & Krekovičová, 2008).

The paper is based on research I carried out in 1997–2006 in the two neighboring

towns of Modra and Pezinok. They are located about 30 km. from Bratislava

in the foothills of the Lesser Carpathian Mountains. The district town

of Pezinok (population 22,000) and its neighboring town Modra (population

8,000) are, at present, part of the dynamically developing, densely populated

region of greater Bratislava, with good infrastructure and roads and, in the

case of Pezinok, also train connection to Bratislava. From the north, the towns

are surrounded by vineyards spreading over the Lesser Carpathian slopes covered

with deciduous forests and, on the southern and eastern side, they face

lowlands. In the economic structure of the towns, industry and agriculture play

only a small role nowadays; most people commute to work to nearby Bratislava

or work in local, well-developed services or in local smaller manufacturing

facilities. Pezinok is the administrative and business center, but also the center

of social life and recreational activities, thanks to two resorts founded at the

turn of the 20th century in nearby forests.

I draw examples from viticulture which, since the Middle Ages, has been

part of the economic culture of both towns. The towns gradually developed

from small farming settlements and gained royal privileges. Besides Slovaks,

several waves of German colonists also settled in the towns. In the 17th century,

thanks to the thriving wine trade, Modra and Pezinok gained privileges

of a free royal town. This way they gained the highest level of independence

in the hierarchy of feudal towns in Hungary. Typical for local viticulture was

winegrowing on the hill slopes on the outskirts of the towns. This required seasonal

work of all family members as well as of hired laborers from the town or

neighboring villages. Wine grapes were harvested in the autumn and they were

transported in wagons to the winepress. Wine, as a product for sale, was stored

in wine cellars underneath houses in a town with fortified walls. Favorable climate

for wine growing and several centuries of continuous winemaking have

influenced the whole area on the southeastern slopes of the Lesser Carpathians

– the core of the Lesser-Carpathian wine country. In both of the towns

I gathered empirical data through observation and interviews, local press and study of archive

materials. My research focused on social and economic dimensions of viticulture in the studied towns

in the 20th century. The study was part of the project Local and Regional Development in the Context of

European Integration (grant VEGA no. 2/5104/25), led by O. Danglová in the Institute of Ethnology of

the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava in 2005–2007.

studied, viticulture has brought about the formation of a class of winemakers

differentiated by property. At the beginning of the 20th century, wine producers

who grew grapes on their own land and sold their wine were an important

part of the urban middle class (Popelková, 1999). Through promotion of their

economic interests and groups values they still influenced local everyday life as

late as WWII.

Even today, viticulture remains the main feature of both towns, although

the conditions of the existence of its social foundations have changed several

times in the past half century. My starting point is the assumption that, for

both Modra and Pezinok, the economic and cultural aspects of viticulture are

a continuously relevant factor of local social relations, which I study through

issues related to viticulture. Under the conditions of post-communist transformation,

I wish to show which pieces of information about the past of the towns

are interlinked with the ideas of their current inhabitants about their town, by

which channels the information is distributed and what determines the process

of its explanation. Within this framework of the urban social memory, I wish

to reveal which pieces of information about the past are collectively shared and

what collective representations they are linked to. From these aspects of memory

processes, I try to uncover if and how social actors, in relation to political,

economic, ideological and other processes, via consciously selecting or glossing

over certain facts about the past, construct their idea of the past reflecting their

group interests. I agree with Viera Bačová (1996: 19) that the motive behind

purposeful explanation of past events and functioning of (historical) memory

is to explain, understand, justify or criticize the current state of affairs.

Urban Viticulture and State Socialism

Viticulture that used to be a profitable business was reflected in Modra and Pezinok

in the culture and unique modalities of social life, even despite the fact that

this fragmented and under-financed field already technologically stagnated and

encountered problems with sales in the 19th century. However, the crucial turning

point came after 1948. All agricultural land was gradually confiscated and

winegrowing was taken over by agricultural cooperatives. Viticulture became

a branch of large-scale, centrally planned state-socialist agriculture. Wine production

and trade were nationalized. The original owners of vineyards either

became employees of cooperatives or left for other occupations. They started to

commute to work to other locations and steered their children’s interests outside

of agriculture. After the communist coup and ensuing land confiscation,

the oldest generation of formerly proud winemakers had to witness a rapid

decline of viticulture, neglect of the vineyards due to the lack of labor force at

cooperatives, and devastation of the landscape. In the period after 1960, when

the state started to subsidize agricultural production, winegrowing underwent

a considerable transformation. In a sense, we can speak about long-awaited

and much-needed modernization. Smaller plots of land were consolidated and

rebuilding of old dense vineyards (until then cultivated by hand) facilitated the

utilization of machinery. In several places, vineyards planted on fall lines of

hills were liquidated, which was a crucial and irreversible change. They were

replaced by terraces, and stone walls, built for centuries during land cultivation,

were knocked down. Small local cooperatives started to merge into large

units farming on several thousands hectares of land. Winemaking and storing

moved to modern production facilities. Wine was produced on a large scale

and it was distributed to the socialist commercial network. It lost its quality

and unique character created by a particular place of origin and maker.

Qualitative changes strongly impacted the life and nature of the towns.

New generations of inhabitants, who still bore the label of “winemakers,” grew

up in a different environment from their fathers or grandfathers.

Viticulture and Post-communist Transformation

In Modra and Pezinok, socio-economic and cultural aspects of viticulture are

to these days more or less pronounced, although its base was virtually dismantled

in the 1950s. Events of the year 1989 and the return to a market economy

have, after many decades of state socialism, renewed conditions for free private

enterprise and land ownership. At present, grapevines are grown on about 800

hectares of land. After the land restitutions in 1992, owners and heirs renewed

their legal right to land ownership. After 1992, it was possible to take land out of

cooperatives, gain the right of its disposal, rent it out or sell it. Production and

storage facilities that were either nationalized or built during communism were

only slowly transferred into private hands in the privatization process. Transformation

was complicated and, for a long time, land and facilities remained in

the hands of cooperatives.

Mechanisms of socialist economy, before 1989 permeating the whole process

from grape growing to wine sales, have mostly impacted those who used

their restituted land right after 1992 for business purposes. The reason was

that socialist cooperatives had dissolved the original boundaries of the vineyards

and adjusted them to mechanical cultivation. Some vineyards were left

uncultivated or new ones were built, or some former vineyards were used for

completely different purposes. Many of those who got their land back in restitution

did not have any machinery or production technologies; they lacked

appropriate production and storage facilities. Although some lived in inherited

houses with wine cellars, it was difficult to get seed capital and labor – due to

the fact, that over the course of past decades, descendants of old winemakers

had started to work in other areas. Therefore, in addition to unclear legislative

and land ownership issues, post-communist transformation was also complicated

by a number of local and individual factors.

These barriers and their consequences led, at the beginning of the 1990s,

to the neglect of vineyards and considerable decline of winegrowing and winemaking.

However, stabilization came around 1995, which is evidenced not

only by the production of quality wines awarded at international competitions,

but also by the building of new vineyards. At present, in each town there are

about a dozen of successful smaller companies that started their business from

scratch. There are also a number of companies established by transformation

from former state businesses that specialize in either wine-grape growing or

winemaking. Also, a number of companies grow grapes or produce cheaper

wine from their own or purchased grapes. In addition to locally grown grapes,

winemakers also buy grapes in other parts of Slovakia where some companies

rent whole vineyards. They also import wine juice from abroad. As a relic from

communism, small cooperatives still survive on vineyards rented from their

original owners. By employing experts, the cooperatives strive to enhance the

quality of their wines and to compete with new companies on the market. Additionally,

small growers, owners of gardens and enthusiastic individuals also

engage in winemaking.

The ideal of dynamically developing private companies is to make an attractive

collection of quality wines in the most efficient way. That means producing

grapes and making wine in their own facilities and selling it under their own

trademark in their own wine cellar and restaurant. In Modra and Pezinok, only

a few winemakers have reached this level of business efficiency. The main factor

determining the level of business development in this sphere is fifty years of

discontinuity of land ownership and users’ relations caused by state socialism.

This handicap has also been compounded by conditions during the transformation

after 1989, such as unclear legislation, disinterest of the state in this sector,

and confrontation with better developed markets after Slovakia’s accession

into the EU in 2004. To this day, generational, technological and ownership

discontinuity of the sector lie behind the fact that, even for the most successful

wine producers with the best products, it is not easy to find their niche under

the liberal conditions of the unified European market.

Viticulture, the Urban Space and Memory

The term viticulture (vinohradníctvo) in a narrower sense means the production

of wine grapes, grape growing, while the term winemaking (vinárstvo) denotes

the actual production of wine, winegrowing. This is also how Slovak legislation

understands and distinguishes the terms. In everyday language, vinohradníctvo

(viticulture) occurs as a more general term. In the local context, the term winemaker/

vintner (vinár) conveys the fact that a person produces wine and sells

it under his/her own trademark. It is not important for their business whether

they grow their own wine grapes or not. However, when I spoke with practitioners

from the field, the criterion of the ownership of vineyards for winemaking

was presented as important. Vineyard ownership indicates the stability and

good prospects of the business. This reflects the continuity of local tradition,

interconnecting grape growing and winemaking. It also points to rising aspirations

of winemakers to produce quality in order to compete on the market:

to produce their own, unique wines from their own grapes or from grapes of

a certain concrete origin.

After the onset of post-communist transformation, winemaking has

reemerged as a continuation of a hundred-year-long local tradition – in the

local discourse, strategies and practices of entrepreneurs, local governments

and politicians, as well as in the public space of the towns and their social life.

It is present as a real economic and social fact and people can come across signs

of its presence on a daily basis; they are visible not only for those who come to

these places to buy wine but even for uninformed random visitors.

The wine business also influences the social world of the towns and local

activities through revitalization of elements of traditions related to winemaking

and through various references to the past. Grape growers and winemakers, by

stressing and combining information about the past, strive to foster their own

economic emancipation; similarly, local governments and other institutions follow

their own goals in this way.

What is Present and What is Remembered

Viticulture in Modra and Pezinok is alive; it is reflected in the face of the towns.

Besides wine cellars and wine boutiques, one can see billboards, advertisements

and signs of supply stores with various viticultural tools, devices, vessels. Vintners

mark their wine cellars and restaurants with their own trademarks and

names. Signposts point to locations of wine cellars or winemaking facilities.

Large companies advertise on billboards located along roads.

Viticulture is the subject of business and individual activities as well as leisure-

time gardening. Wine grapes are grown in vineyards on the outskirts of

towns as well as in gardens located next to individual houses. Wine grapes are

used for wine production for individual consumption, for sales to other winemakers,

but also for direct consumption as table fruits. In the streets or stores,

in discussions and fragments of conversations one can hear opinions about

how to take care of grapevines, worries about spring frosts, summer hail or

high humidity that could cause grapevine diseases. In a gardening supply store

even complete strangers inform each other about the newest chemical grapevine

sprays, the quality of machinery, and the like. During the time of autumn

harvests the traffic is slowed down by trucks loaded with grapes. People in the

streets or on public buses speak about the best dates for grape picking. It is customary

to invite distant relatives, colleagues from work or friends to come to

the family vineyard or garden to help with grape harvesting.

Until today, in both towns there are a number of names of local places that

are Slovakized old German names. They are still in use to identify individual

vineyards in the town land registry. Until the 1950s, these names, nowadays

considered to be something like a local peculiarity, were known to and used by

all the inhabitants of the town.

Terms related to wine production appear in the names of restaurants and

hotels (e.g. The Wine Press Restaurant or Vintner’s House Hotel in Pezinok)

located in the historical center in old townhouses or wine cellars underneath

them. Festivals and cultural events also take on names related to winemaking

(e.g., in Pezinok The Pezinok Bunch of Grapes – an international ballroom-

dance competition, The Brass Band in the Wine Press – a competition

of brass bands). Municipal governments of both towns establish special committees

for grape growing and winemaking. Local governments issue propositions

about guarding ripening grapes in vineyards – at the end of summer

and in autumn everybody except owners is banned from entering them; they


collection and composting of discarded vines stored near wine cellars,

and the like.

Both towns, their vintners’ guilds and wine entrepreneurs are members of

the Lesser Carpathians Wine Route Association – a marketing product of rural

tourism active in the region since the 1990s. Besides other year-round activities,

it organizes very successful Days of Open Cellars linked with tasting of

young wine in winemakers’ private wine cellars. A favorable visitors’ response

led in 2007 to the organization of the first spring Day of Open Cellars on St.

Urban’s Day. In both towns, autumn vintage festivals are regularly organized

as well as various wine tasting and exhibits organized by winemakers’ guilds.

Especially at vintage festivals, visitors can see various performances and enactments

of customs related to grape harvesting and winemaking. They can also

see old, no longer used, technical equipment, tools and vessels.

Indirectly, the winemaking theme enters the lives of the inhabitants

via various museum activities (the regional museum in Pezinok has a whole

department focusing on Lesser Carpathian viticulture). Both towns publish

monthlies also popularizing, among other things, historical facts about local

winemaking in the past. Traditions are also disseminated through folklore

shows, traditional cuisine, ornamental decorations on traditional pottery produced

in Modra, and the like.

Mayors’ speeches, New Year’s addresses, celebrations of towns’ memorial

days always mention also the glorious past of winemaking in the area.

Almost every address of municipal dignitaries refers to the centuries- or thousands‑of‑years-

long traditions of winemaking in the town and to wine as a typical

beverage for the region. Company logos feature symbols of wine and grapes

or their various stylized depictions.” However, their promotional materials usually

use simple pictures of wine bottles with the company’s name, prize-winning

wines, photographs of production facilities or company’s cellars. They

also often use photographs of work in the vineyards. Promotional texts often

refer back to the winemaking past of the family as motivation for present-day

business activities. The fact that winemakers in Modra and Pezinok in the mid-

1990s also revitalized their guilds is a specific reference to the past. As professional

associations, the guilds existed in the towns from the end of the 19th

century until the beginning of communist collectivization. They were influential

both within their professional groups and towards the town and state. They

represented their own interests, educated the public, purchased fertilizers and

sprays against grapevine diseases, organized wine sales and helped resolve




K . P o p e l k o v á : V itic u l t u r a l T r a d iti o n s a n d L o c a l M e m o r y

cultivation and sales problems. The present-day guilds – Spolok Vincúr Modra

(The Vintners’ Gild) and Združenie pezinských vinohradníkov a vinárov (Association

of Winegrowers and Winemakers) revived the traditional institutional

form. Their activities are mostly in the organization of social, promotional and

marketing events, with no actual impact on the individual business intentions

of their members. The existence of guilds and their organizational or at least

their symbolic presence at social events in towns shows their inner coherence

and common interests to the outer world.

Typical for the construction of the past in the process of emancipation of

the wine business after 1989 is the fact that mediators of the past avoid certain

facts and linkages. Nowadays, references to the communist past occur in

public speeches only very rarely, although they were quite frequent in the years

right after the fall of communism. At that time, in their speeches people articulated

enthusiasm for redressing past injustices, welcomed land restitutions and

radically rejected the existence of cooperatives in the name of the return to the

pre-communist order. Today, these things are no longer mentioned; successes,

scientific findings and technological innovations made during communism are

ignored. Equally forgotten are stories, popular just a few years ago, about nontransparent

restitutions of former state wine production facilities. Forgetting

appears to be a pragmatic strategy, especially when it concerns events closely

relating to the present actors and their companies. However, what is also not

publicly mentioned in Modra and Pezinok are, for instance, facts about the

Holocaust of the local Jews. Older people who still remember the interwar

period remember the portrayal of Jews as hated traders who bought wine from

smaller makers cheaply and sold it for huge profits. Equally forgotten are the

post-war fates of the local Germans, whose confiscated land, machinery and

facilities were the fundamental basis of agricultural cooperatives after the communist

coup. It is not desirable to mention these stains from the past. They

have no place in the construction of the self-image of the prospective group of

wine entrepreneurs, just as they do not fit into the self-representation of the

above-mentioned towns.

How the Towns Formulate their Outlooks

Although viticulture is the common feature of the neighboring towns of Modra

and Pezinok, the parameters of their development dynamics as well as their

hierarchical standing in the region are different. In the transformation period,

differences in their current economic and social traits create original contexts

for representation of the towns, presentation of their past and present, ideas

about their outlooks or the degree of references to their glorious past.

Strategies that the forming group of current wine entrepreneurs follows in

the process of their social acceptance and in achieving success in the market

more or less correspond with the strategies of local governments and the local

political elite. These try to build the kind of identity of their towns that would

stir up a broad public response. In so doing, they also more or less accentuate

the winemaking agenda. Mechanisms of this relationship are complicated and

their dynamics and some of their elements at the level of memory processes can

be captured by interpretation of empirical field data in the historical perspective.

The course of post-communist transformation and hence the starting position

of wine entrepreneurs has been strongly influenced by the pre-communist

past. At that time, the towns also differed in, e.g., the degree of dependence of

their economies on viticulture. In Pezinok, at the turn of the 20th century, the

economic structure was already more diverse with a larger share of industry. In

Modra until the 1950s, more than a half of the population worked in agriculture

(Slavík, 2007: 478) and the tie to inherited land was much stronger. In Modra

there was a strong group of winemakers whose elite enjoyed a high social status

and thanks to its economic power had an important political standing. The

change of the regime in 1948 struck this group particularly hard. According

to archive records, at the end of the 1950s more than half of the winemakers

were still reluctant to give up their land. Living on the verge poverty, subject to

repressions from the state and communist power they held on to their vineyards

as their private property. Those who handed their land over to the cooperative

and decided to work for the cooperative were subject to humiliation. They had

to watch former landless peasants and bad vintners unprofessionally manage

the vineyards. In Modra, the strength of the ties to the inherited land worsened

the impact of the fifty-year-long discontinuity and made the start of the renewed

wine business after 1989 more difficult. Before World War II, winemakers


Pezinok had already tried to resolve problems with wine sales together and

had established a cooperative (1936). Its objective was to concentrate wine in

common storage facilities and to take care of its marketing. Wine sales were

flexibly managed depending on the needs of the market, and the cooperative

paid its members instantly. Some vintners from Modra also became its members.

However, their guild – just like the municipal government – initially did

not trust the cooperative. It was suspected of preferring the wine from Pezinok

to that from Modra. The Slovak Vintners’ Cooperative (Slovenské vinohradnícke

družstvo) acquired storage space from the town and built its own storage facilities

in both towns. The activity of the cooperative as an institution established

to promote the common interests of its members ended after the communist

coup. Collectivization of land and nationalization of production and sales after

1948 caught the vintners from Pezinok in a different situation from that of the

proud vintners from Modra. Until the last moment, the vintners from Modra

relied only on themselves.

At first, viticulture as a characteristic feature of the town caused problems

with nationalization; however from the 1960s to the 1980s, it was paradoxically

accentuated by socialist propaganda when stressing the regime’s successes.

Behind the creation of the stereotype of Modra as the “viticultural pearl

of the Lesser Carpathians” was the argument of its glorious past. This was also

backed up by the extent of the vineyards. These together with the land belonging

to auxiliary municipal cooperatives ranked Modra as the largest viticultural

town in communist Czechoslovakia (Dubovský, 1983: 16).

When comparing the current hierarchy of regional towns, Modra ranks

below Pezinok (Slavík, 2006: 491). During the latest reforms of the territorial

administration in the 1990s, Modra was not awarded the position of district

center, and from the ethnological point of view its calm atmosphere contrasts

with busy Pezinok, which attracts more visitors. The municipal government of

Modra more or less succeeds in negotiating consensus and supporting mutually

economically advantageous partnerships of various subjects, overcoming

opinion differences, activating business and stimulating outside investments.

In public discourse emphasis is laid on cultural, artistic, religious, educational

and handicraft traditions, the history of the town and its close linkages with

the national history. Frequent are references to the past importance of the town

that are meant to fill its inhabitants with pride – a town connected with the 19th

century national movement, a town famous for its pottery, a famous wine town.

Descendants of older vintner families still live in the town, keeping alive the

consciousness of the importance of their social groups. Also, the town is the

home of a number of winemaking experts and promoters of wine tourism, rural

Research on communist collectivization reveals a strong resistance of Modra winemakers to

land confiscation and collective farming. It indicates the depth of alienation from the land caused by

a purposeful reorientation of the next generations to other activities and occupations – due to the feelings

of injustice and resentment over the way in which the cooperatives managed wine production

(Popelková, 2003).

tourism, conservationists, scientists and pedagogues from the field of viticulture

with ties to local schools and research institutions. The group of wine

entrepreneurs, however, does not hold a sufficiently strong position, nor does

it have a common, more offensive marketing strategy. Thus far, it has not succeeded

more markedly in pursuing their interests by more closely involving the

town and other entrepreneurs. References to the glorious past and the pathos

present in allusions to winemaking traditions sound like appellative argumentation.

They are used as a virtual condition and aid towards fulfillment of promises

of potential development.

Pezinok, on the contrary, has many advantages following from the fact that

it has continually been a regional center, as well as from its economic structure,

more coherent interest groups, more proactive behavior of municipal representatives

in regional politics and their better support of business and tourism.

The town does not declare its interest in creating “a calm environment” for the

life of the town. On the contrary, the town is doing everything to attract people

to its businesses, offices, schools, sporting places, festivals, exhibits, restaurants.

Winemaking traditions serve to promote more tourism. Several local

wine entrepreneurs have established cooperation with the town. They put their

efforts into promotional activities even though these did not bring them instant

profits. However, they made them known in the town and its vicinity. The

entrepreneurs have gained experience with marketing and business contacts at

home and abroad. They openly proclaim their interest in achieving success in

their business. The town respects them as creators of new jobs and as successful

entrepreneurs, and winemakers, in return, with their success and products

are good advertisements for the town. It seems that they do not consider their

traditions sacred. They utilize them, together with some others, as practical

marketing tools (Popelková, 2006).

Differences between these two towns can be also read in the language and

content of the texts by which the towns describe their profiles and formulate

their visions for the future. An analysis of the strategic plans of both towns

shows that Pezinok defines itself as a modern district town with varied industry,

excellent wine production, a developed business network, and many historical

monuments. They project the image of the town as a lively business center

Mesto Pezinok. (2007, February). Program hospodárskeho a sociálneho rozvoja mesta Pezinok.

Profil mesta Pezinok [Brožúra], p. 4. (The Town of Pezinok. Program of Economic and Social Development

of the Town of Pezinok. [Brochure]. Available on the Internet:


interested in improving its technical and transport infrastructure while also

improving and protecting its natural environment. The town supports entrepreneurship

and within its framework mainly viticulture and light industry.

They also want to build on tourism, continue in organizing international events

(music, dance and theater festivals, sporting events, and the like), reconstruct

historical monuments and open them to the public, and build a network of good

tourist services. The town declares that it wants to utilize the proximity of the

capital of Bratislava to offer short-term rural tourism stays combining natural

beauties with winemaking and handicraft traditions and the local cuisine.

Modra proclaims that on its road towards the future it must respect the

values of both the present and the past, as the neglect of its history and disturbance

of its environment would lead to undermining of the very foundations of

its development. For the sake of development and change, it wants to activate

people and utilize their potential, since the municipal government is unable to

do so by itself. It wants to map and improve its unique features, so that visitors

would understand their hidden values. It also wants to protect the natural environment

that creates a unique backdrop of the town and is a precondition of its

further development. The town wants to be a viticultural center and tourist hub

providing employment opportunities in traditional agricultural branches and

public services. It wants to create suitable conditions for the life of its inhabitants

with quality housing and opportunities to spend leisure time in a healthy

natural environment. According to the strategic vision, the town of Modra will

be the leader among Slovak towns in the protection of its natural, historical

and cultural heritage.

A Note in Conclusion

In the micro-environment of the towns studied, elements of viticultural traditions

and information about the past of winemaking have, in the process of

post-communist transformation, become part of the current dynamic social

activity. The analysis of their occurrence (at the level of contents) and functions

(at the level of processes) in the local memory indicates that their key factor

Mesto Modra, Pauliniová, Z. (2006). Piliere Modry. In Strategický plán rozvoja mesta Modra.

Program hospodárskeho a sociálneho rozvoja na roky 2007–2013. Modra: Projektový tím pre strategické

plánovanie. (The Town of Modra. Pillars of Modra In: Strategic Plan o f Development of the Town

of Modra. Program of Economic and Social Development for the Years 2007-2013. Modra: The Project

Team for Strategic Planning.) Available on the Internet:

is the persistence of viticulture in both towns. The principles of selectiveness

of memory are especially revealed in concrete forms and consequences of the

periods of discontinuity. In the study of post-communist transformation, in

these towns such a factor is mainly the qualitative change in the ownership

and disposition rights to land after 1848 and 1989. In this light, representations

related to the present and future of the towns show close linkages to the

economic and social profile of the urban micro-space as a whole, but also to

collective interests of wine entrepreneurs who are part of its structure. Those

facts from the past that survive thanks to the natural needs of the differentiated

group of winemakers (skills and knowledge, festivals and promotional activities

related to the wine trade and the like) have neither a negative nor a positive

charge – they are normal parts of the urban life. Some facts (the Jewish Holocaust,

deportations of German inhabitants after 1945, the course of formation

of socialist cooperatives, post-communist restitutions) have no place in the

current memory of the towns as they are charged with feelings of responsibility

and undesirable confrontational meanings. They interfere not only with the

self-presentation of wine entrepreneurs, but also with the construction of the

image of the towns and dissemination of their outlooks by local politicians. The

last group of facts from the past – documenting the glorious past of free royal

towns and their winemaking traditions – is an especially suitable tool for local

politicians who select and combine them as needed; in presentation of their

town they can argue its historical importance. By drawing a positive picture of

the past they try to motivate people to be more active or divert attention from

problems of the present.

Katarína Popelková has been a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology of the

Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava since 1997. In her PhD thesis (completed

in 1997) she focused on the development of studies of urban space within the ethnology

of Slovakia in the 2nd half of the 20th century as well as on the reconstruction

of a model of social communication in the towns of Pezinok and Skalica in Western

Slovakia in the period before the WW II. Her further fields of interest include

identity of ethnic minorities (Czech working migrants in the towns of Slovakia during

the interwar period), relations within border regions (the situation at the newly

established national border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia after 1992).

Since the end of the 1990s, she has directed her research interests towards a profession

group of wine producers and wine merchants in the towns of the most important

wine region of Slovakia – the Malé Karpaty viticultural region. Since 2000, she

has been conducting her fieldwork in the towns of Modra and Pezinok where she

examines issues related to the post-socialist transformation of agriculture and entre90

preneurship as well as manifestations of viniculture in the everyday life and social

relations of the inhabitants of the above-mentioned towns. Further, she is interested

in the process of the constitution of national identity in Slovakia at the time

of modernization at the beginning of the 20th century. Her interests also include

the history of ethnology in Slovakia. She occasionally teaches in the Department of

Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of Comenius University in Bratislava (subject:

urban ethnology). Since 2001, she has also been giving lectures at the Department

of Slovak Studies of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. Between 1997

and 2004, she worked as a scientific coordinator at the SAS Institute of Ethnology in

Bratislava. Since 2004, she has been the Deputy Head of the Institute.

References and Sources

Bačová, V. (1996). Historická pamäť ako zdroj konštruovania identity. In V. Bačová

(Ed.), Historická pamäť a identita (s. 9-28). Košice: Spoločenskovedný ústav SAV.

(Historical Memory as Source of Identity Construction. In: Historical Memory and


Dubovský, J. (1983). Medzníky v dejinách Modry. In 825 rokov mesta Modry 1158–1983.

Modra. (Milestones in the History of Modra. In: 825 Years of the Town of Modra


Halbwachs. M. (1994). Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire. Paris: Albin Michel. (quoted

according to Kiliánová & Krekovičová, 2008).

Kiliánová, G. & Krekovičová, E. (2008). Úvod. In G. Kiliánová, E. Kowalská & E.

Krekovičová (Eds.), My a tí druhí. Kolektívne identity v modernej spoločnosti (in

press). Bratislava: Veda, Vydavateľstvo SAV. (Introduction. In: Us and The Others.

Collective Identities in Modern Society.)

Popelková, K. (1997). Mestskí vinohradníci ako skupina v organizme medzivojnového

mesta (Modra, 1. polovica 20. storočia). [Výskumná správa (110 rkp. s.)].

Bratislava: Textový archív Ústavu etnológie SAV, inv. číslo 1408. (Urban Vintners

as a Group in the Social Organism of an Interwar Town. Research Report.)

Popelková, K. (1999). Mestskí vinohradníci ako sociálna skupina (K otázke štúdia

prvkov agrárneho charakteru kultúry mesta na Slovensku). In P. Salner &

Z. Beňušková (Eds.), Diferenciácia mestského spoločenstva v každodennom živote

(s. 115-130). Bratislava: Ústav etnológie SAV. (Urban Vintners as a Social Group.

A Contribution to the Study of Elements of an Agrarian Nature of Urban Culture

in Slovakia. In: Differentiation of Urban Society in Everyday Life.)

Popelková, K. (2003). Vinohradníci v sociálnej štruktúre mesta Modra v 20. storočí.

[Výskumná správa (nestránkovaný rukopis)]. Archív autorky. (Vintners in the

Social Structure of the Town of Modra in the 20th Century. Research report.)

Popelková, K. (2005). Vinohradníctvo, vinohradníci a turizmus (obchodné záujmy

podnikateľov jedného odvetvia ako nosná rovina regionálneho rozvoja. In

Etnologické rozpravy, roč. 12, č. 2, s. 112-120. (Viticulture, vintners and Tourism.

Business Interests of Entrepreneurs of One Sector at the Key Dimension of

Regional Development)

Popelková, K. (2006): Združenie pezinských vinohradníkov a vinárov. [Výskumná správa

(19 rkp. s.]. Archív autorky. (The Association of Winegrowers and Vintners of the

Town of Pezinok)

Slavík, V. (2006): Obyvateľstvo a osídlenie. In Žudel, J., Dubovský, J. & kol. Dejiny

Modry. Mesto Modra: Mestský úrad Modra, s. 459-518. (Population and Settlements.

In: The History of Modra)

Žudel, J., Dubovský, J., & kol. (2006). Dejiny Modry. Mesto Modra: Mestský úrad

Modra. (The History of Modra)

Katarína Popelková

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