The Badacsony Wine Region

“If you happen to look around in your wine cellar, do you ever contemplate guarding gods locked up in your barrels?”
János Pilinszky, Hungarian poet

Nothing compares to the beauty of the Naples region in Italy, believed János Ranolder, bishop of Veszprém. Until one day on his confirmation pilgrimage, he came round to Badacsony. He immediately fell in love with the enchanting scenery and soon gave rise to a hundred-acre winery on the hill. His wines then turned out to be excellent enough to win all sorts of competitions. We know from Károly Eötvös that the bishop’s ‘kéknyelű’ and ‘somlai aszú’ was twice as expensive as the most precious ‘ötputtonyos tokaji aszú’ (a famous style of sweet wine with a long history in the Hungarian Tokaj region which is made from grapes affected by noble rot).

(Extract from the book ‘Drink to It! – A Chalice of Badacsony’ by Katalin Simon)

Two thousand years ago there was a Roman military passage running via Aquincum at the foot of the Badacsony. It was during the reign of Emperor Probus that the greatest number of grapevines were planted. Several Roman gravestones and remains of buildings decorated with harvesting motifs were found. Grape cultivation remained an important agricultural activity even after the settlement of Hungarians. Various peoples came and left but the vines stayed until the great phylloxera plague that had devastating consequences. Vines were later replanted and in fact, this is when the Badacsony became a white-grape growing area. The Pinot Gris of French origin was brought to the region by monks in the 13th century. The circumstances were so apt for this variety that it became the number one wine of Badacsony under the name ‘szürkebarát’. In special vintage years, its berries raisin or might even be affected by noble rot. The ‘kéknyelű’, probably a variety of Hungarian origin that was named after its bluish leaf-stems, has also raised the reputation of the region.

Badacsony and its surroundings have several artistic records including poems, songs, and even films. In everyday Hungarian thinking, the idea of harvest is still closely associated with Badacsony.

(Extracts from the book ‘Magyar borvidékek’ by Béla Bede)

The Badacsony wine region is one of the most well-known wine regions in the country. The makings of the volcanic slopes girdling Lake Balaton from the north-west are renowned for the wines of this area. Apart from the Badacsony, the Szent György hill, Ábrahám hill and the mild slopes of Révfülöp are also part of this region. Luscious grapes ripen on the sheltered, sunny slopes under picturesque columnar basalt (locally known as basalt organs) and gigantic rocks of volcanic origin. The huge water surface of Lake Balaton balances the freezing cold of winter and the scorching heat of the summer while also increasing humidity. This and the various soils of the volcanic hills, like the ‘Pannon clay’, sand and loess giving place to basalt detritus and tufa towards the peak of the hill, together shape the ardent, full-bodied, harmonic and succulent character of the wine produced here.

(Extract from the book ‘Magyar borok’ by Ferenc Radics)

Harvest is frolic. In autumn like the flickering flame of the dying candle, summer exhales one last flare. This often happens during the harvest. Dawn is already clammy and cool, blue mist sits on the landscape making your mood blue just the same. Until you meet the light. As the fog is sluggishly eaten up by the invigorated sun so are you stirred to life. Harvest is a social spree, a social event. To strengthen both body and soul vintage wine of impish rollick is passed around. Then the afternoon is already for the must (grape juice). It is sweet, gives tenacity. More and more often laughter rolls out from between the grapevines round and loud, gurgling, roaring and soaring. Just as jokes are getting indecent. Yet another blessing of grapes. This life-lengthening laughter.
(Extract from the book ‘Drink to It! – A Chalice of Badacsony’ by Katalin Simon)