Hungary as a wine-growing country is primarily associated with the world-famous dessert Tokay wines and the popular red wine “Bull’s Blood” from the local variety Kadarka, but this is just the tip of the iceberg of a wonderful palette of wines from autochthonous (authentic) and international grape varieties with a centuries-old winemaking culture of the country.

The territories of modern Hungary have always been at the epicenter of historical events in Europe. The first vineyards were planted back in the days of the Roman Empire, and then different events happened that in one way or another influenced agriculture for centuries. Things were not always smooth. There was a Turkish invasion in the 16th century, the phylloxera that destroyed the vineyards at the end of the 19th century, the wars of the 20th century, and the pernicious influence of the communist regime until the 1990s. Despite all the difficulties, today Hungarian winemakers are ready to offer to the world a bright palette of wonderful wines. The offer varies from the light, fresh and aromatic wines in the north of the country to more full-bodied and savoury traditional samples, as well as aged wines from international grape varieties.

Hungary is divided into 22 wine regions with a total area of just over 60,000 hectares. You can often hear the opinion that there are too many of them for such a small country. However, each of the regions has its own traditions, style, and specifics in the production of wines. According to the generally accepted European classification, Hungary has 31 PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) and 6 PGIs (Protected Geographical Indications). In general, the country can be territorially divided into six main areas of wine production.


Tokaji (or Tokay) (5,723 ha) is the national pride of Hungary, a historical drink from vineyards in the east of the country. “Wine of Kings” as it is often called, has long been considered the best in Eastern Europe. These legendary wines were supplied to the table to the Popes, Louis XIV, Peter I, and Catherine II. Here, for the first time, sweet wine was made from botrytised grapes (late harvest, covered with “noble mold” – botrytis) long before the appearance of dessert Rhine wines and Bordeaux wines in Sauternes. Local vineyards were first classified in 1700 by Prince Rákóczi. There the wines of the highest quality have always been produced from such varieties as Furmint, Hárslevelű, Muscat, and Kabar.

Tokaji illustration

Danube region (23,355 ha): half of the area of Hungarian vineyards is located on the Middle Danube lowland between the Danube and the Tisza.  Here in the central part of the south of the country sandy soils prevail, which are suitable only for winemaking, mainly from red varieties Kadarka, Kékfrankos, and white Olaszrizling and Ezerjό.


Upper Hungary  (12,288 ha): along with pleasant white wines from local and international varieties, the famous red wine Eger Bikavér or “Bull’s Blood” is produced here. This name was given by the Turks, who occupied the city of Eger. It used to be the most famous Hungarian wine in the West, and it is only a small part of what winemakers produce now. There are interesting examples also from Pinot Noir, white Leányka, and Hárslevelű.

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  • EGER

Northern Transdanubia  (5,788 ha): this part of Hungary is famous for its dry white wines from traditional grape varieties. Etyek-Budai makes decent sparkling wines, and the western border with Austria – Sopron is a cutting-edge region for red varieties from Kékfrankos, Merlot, and Zweigelt. The northeast has special wines from the unique white variety Ezerjó from Mόr.

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Pannonia (7,708): The warmer southern part of Hungary produces fuller-bodied red wines from Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Zweigelt, Portugieser, and the international Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot. Here the development of local vineyards has been influenced also by large investments of the Tuscan company Antinori (in Tolna), which specializes in high-quality red wines.

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Regions of Lake Balaton  (8,736 ha): vineyards are located on the shores of the largest lake in Europe, Balaton. The northern coast is well protected from cold air currents, and the humid microclimate of the lake creates mild conditions for growing grapes. Varieties such as Furmint, Olaszrizling, Rhine Riesling, and others show excellent results on volcanic soils.


There are more than 30 national grape varieties in Hungary, and every year more and more winemakers focus on unique autochthonous varieties. However, the issue of all-consuming globalization and the loss of authenticity of Hungarian winemaking was acute at the end of the 20th century. These days the situation is coming better, and varieties such as Furmint, Olaszrizling, and Kékfrankos are gaining significant weight when the winemakers are choosing the varieties to work with. Little by little the wineries have managed to show the world the potential of their traditional winemaking, and they are only at the very beginning of their journey to world fame.

One of these wineries is Apátsági Pince, which has its vineyards in one of the smallest but significant regions of the country – Somló in the north of Lake Balaton. This is a small isolated wine region with an area of ​​only 553 hectares. Here the unique volcanic soils dominate and make it possible to create refined wines with a mineral character.

In 2001, the owner Zoltan Balog purchased the cellar that once belonged to a Benedictine abbey from the family of a former winemaker. This was the beginning of the winery, which today has a reputation as a respected producer. Zoltan is one of Somlo’s brightest figures and a tireless reformer. He is a farmer, who is ready for any conflict with anyone for the sake of preserving and developing Hungarian traditions.

Apatsagi Pince

He managed to reunite almost 4 hectares of vineyards. From the very beginning, only traditional grape varieties were planted: Furmint, Juhfark, and Hárslevelű. And all the work is carried out as close as possible to the laws of nature without the use of artificial additives, without filtering, and with minimal use of sulphites. The winery is certified as an organic farm and produces wines in limited quantities, using only its own vineyards. About 6-8 thousand bottles are released to the market every year. Apátsági Pince wines tend to be concentrated, full-bodied, and with reach flavour. They are great to drink young and can be aged for a long time too.

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