- Amanda Sumner
The Wine Hill is a fortified mound half a kilometre south of Mežotne hillfort. A steep ridge connects the hillfort and the Wine Hill, delimiting the Lielupe river flood meadows to the west. This ridge is the former bank of the Lielupe, remaining in place as the river receded.
The Wine Hill is positioned between natural ravines to the west and the south. Only the northern side is artificially raised with a 5 m high earthwork with a ditch in front of it. Thus the hilltop of the Wine Hill is surrounded by 10 m high slope on all sides.
The hilltop consists of a more than one-meter deep depression, or rather the hilltop is circled by a 1 m high earthwork with a flattened top. The earthwork is particularly flat on the southern side of the hill. This type of hilltop has not been observed in any other Latvian hillforts. The site of the entrance cannot be determined.
The original earthworks of the hill are well preserved. No deliberate damage can be observed.
The Wine Hill is covered in thick shrubbery and trees, with a layer of detritus underneath. However, the cultural layer is insignificant. There are no known finds.
A story goes about the Wine Hill that occasionally a communion table with bread and wine rises from the ground there and sinks again. This is why it is named the Wine Hill.
Bielenstein thinks that the Wine Hill was probably a fortified German military encampment, which according to the Livonian Chronicle of Henry (XXIII, 3) was built next to the Mežotne castle, to defend it from Lithuanian attacks.
However, it appears that Bielenstein was mistaken, as evidenced by the unusual hilltop construction and the negligible cultural layer. Likewise, the legend of the communion table could be connected to Christians living on the hill.
Unfortunately, there have been no archaeological excavations on the Wine Hill to help determine its origin.
The Wine Hill is considered a hillfort, but an alternative view is that it was used as a cult place for the Mežotne hillfort.
The Wine Hill as a hillfort with evidence of earthworks is fortified against its surroundings from which it is naturally separated by the Lielupe river valley and ravines on the sides. Minor archaeological excavations conducted on the Wine Hill have not provided convincing clues about its historical significance. Several pottery sherds found on the hill date it to the first millennium C.E.
A rest area is located close by with benches, table, restrooms, and an information display about the nature park. Mežotne manor and shops are found in the nearby Mežotne town. Access is by a wide and well-maintained tourist trail created in 2010 as part of the Zemgale regional planning project.