22 March 2024 / Borbála Kalmár Copy actual URL Facebook share Twitter share

A quarter of a century at the forefront of Hungarian wine

The Pannon Wine Guild was founded a quarter of a century ago by just under a dozen winemakers. All of them are names which, when uttered in company today, wine lovers – and perhaps even those who consider themselves less so, tip their imaginary hats in respect. The association, which has grown somewhat since its beginnings, does not only exist behind the scenes: you can meet the winemakers together several times a year, but you can also taste their wines individually, even with a wine passport that offers numerous discounts. Or you can choose to support their work.

It’s not possible to put Hungarian wine back in its rightful place on the global wine map overnight. However, it is possible to work, day in day out, side by side, to ensure that there will come a day when everything falls into place. Once again, this year, Hungarian wines were tasted at a common stand during ProWein, where more Masters of Wine than ever before gave masterclasses about Hungary to international visitors. Finnish Master of Wine Pasi Ketolainen, for example, loves Hungarian wines so much that he was even considering Villány as the perfect place for a holiday home. Close to good wines…

Really big things are born out of collaboration, it’s rarely the case that one swallow makes a summer. In recent years, this has led to the emergence of community wines or the creation of grandiose events that have moved an entire wine region. And it’s not just about appearing together, winemakers discuss the future of the wine region and what is attractive to wine tourists. However, there’s one initiative with roots going back further than any other efforts. Twenty-five years ago, back in the last millennium, ten producers got together to found the Pannon Wine Guild. These were winemakers who, even in the 1990s, were among the most sought-after and respected in the profession and the wine-thirsty public. And they are still shining like stars in the sky of the Hungarian wine industry – although the faces are not always the same, as in the past 25 years, the next generation has increasingly taken over the reins.


Attila Gere, one of the founders of PWG, with his iconic Kopar wine, the first vintage of which was born even earlier than PWG (Photo: Attila Busák)

 

Passport to the biggest names

 

As well as setting themselves various goals from the very beginning, the founding members were also good friends and often visited each other to taste, learn and be inspired. Their ambition has always been to promote the cultured and quality consumption of wine, in line with which they themselves consistently produce outstanding quality wine every year. They also often play a major role in wine tourism. Just consider Attila Gere, for example, whose name is not only associated with his wines, but now also with accommodation, restaurants and, thanks to his daughter, even cosmetics. Zoltán Heimann in Szekszárd, Zoltán Thummerer in Eger and István Szepsy in Tokaj have also made their mark. Besides being the founders of the Pannon Wine Guild, they are also distinguished by all three having been awarded the honorary title of Winemaker of the Winemakers, which is presented to the best of the best by their peers.

This illustrious company also includes the current president of the association, György Lőrincz – who can also tick off the highest scoring Hungarian red wine in the world – and its co-president Mihály Figula. His knowledge of one of Hungary’s incontestable flagship varieties, Olaszrizling, is second to none – we spoke to him about it. And these are just a few of the awards that the members of the association have to show for their efforts, which, individually, are a faithful representation of the fact that they have not given up one single iota of their initial objective. 

The best wines and food to taste in one place at the big SVÉT (Stylish Rural Restaurants) event (Photo: Attila Busák)

 

Of course, awards are just awards, and scores from renowned experts from various places are neither here nor there, the final arbiter is the consumer. Fortunately, given that the Guild’s membership has multiplied over the past quarter century, it’s easy to find somewhere to visit wherever you are in the country. Enikő Luka in Sopron, István Jásdi at the Balaton, Imre Györgykovács on Somló, Mátyás Szőke Jr in the Mátra and Stéphanie Berecz in Tokaj– just to mention a few of the current members - look forward to welcoming guests thirsty for wine. Wherever your journey takes you, don’t forget to get your wine passport at the first tasting and then get it stamped at every stop, as the more stamps you have, the more discounts you’ll get. Offerings range from free tastings to a six-course dinner or a special wine tasting, at a stop where the road to the destination was already paved with delicious wines.

Iconic moment, Ottó Légli pours wine for Ákos Kamocsay at the big SVÉT event in Tata (Photos: Attila Busák)

 

Eat well and do good

 

It’s also worth a visit because dinner is catered by a member of the Stylish Rural Restaurants – of our choice – which offers practically the same as the Pannon Wine Guild, but in terms of food. The two associations have recently forged an even closer relationship: at the big SVÉT event in Tata in September, all members of both associations will be participating as exhibitors – a highly recommended event for taste orgy lovers.

The SVÉT event in Tata, where the Hungarian gastronomic and wine world meet (Fotó: Busák Attila)

 

This is the third year in a row that the members are rounding off the year together: they are bringing their best wines to a Budapest event while it’s quiet during Advent and showing them to the trade – and for the third year, the public can also sample the selection.

Of course, you can not only receive but also give, as you can also become club members. And with this, you can also get two wine tasting vouchers and a 10% discount coupon valid for a year, which can be used for consumption and purchases on site. And by redeeming your membership card, you are not only doing something for yourself, but also for the association and their efforts for Hungarian wine culture, so that they can spread the positive reputation of Hungarian wine to more people.

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