I WAS CREATED TO BE HERE
Máriagyűd is a famous pilgrimage terminus. Somehow my lifeway led me here as well. Of course this is only a physical destination – in reality it is the start of a new road. When I visited here for the first time in 2009 I clearly had the feeling that my place was here. I was asked to help with the selling of this land vineyard, which ended up to be a very easy task since the land touched me, didn’t let me go, so I ended up buying it.
This is how the story of my own estate started, where I do all the work myself from planting the vines to winemaking.
Even after so many years this feeling still fills me up each and every day. You can physically feel the spirit of this place, my pulse is simply dropping. Instead of the noise of the outer world I get to hear my inner sound. The silence, that helps me understand the circle of nature and myself inside of it.
I was born on the Great Hungarian Plain, so I am extremely fascinated by the endless view from the top of the vineyard. What did I bring with me from home? I spent my childhood with flowers and animals, in vineyards, orchards, greenhouses – this is where I inherited the love of Nature from. And perhaps my vitality as well, since life is harder on the plain, and it also means less glory.
STANDING ON EARTH, LOOKING AT THE SKY
It is not just me, others are being touched by this place too: one might feel as if they were between heaven and earth while watching this scenery.
The European honey buzzard (or pern), which can be found on the labels, lives near the cellar. I took it as a heavenly sign when an ornithologist pointed it out to me when he came for a visit.
The pern soars high but feeds on the ground. It circles high up in the sky but has to return again and again to scrape food out of the ground. This symbolism has been imprinted in me ever since: an unending cycle between heaven and earth. Like a winemaker who lives from the earth, works with the earth, then makes wine out of the grapes, which then lifts us up to the sky. This is not some sort of a pathos covered in wine mist, but an experience. The wine – which is the fruit of the vine and human work – lifts our soul and spirit. I work for this all year long. I can say every day that it was worth it.
To me this place is a resting point and soaring. The vibration of life provides me every day with strength and momentum. But perhaps I have been lyrical long enough, let’s talk about some of the characteristics.
The little estate can be found on the southern slope of the Villány Mountains, halfway between Máriagyűd and the Tenkes Csárda (Inn). Its location is perfect, there is a forest behind it up high on the steep mountainside. At night the descending cool breeze dries up the grape leaves, therefore, only a small amount of plant protection is needed. The cool summer nights can be thanked for the intense fruitiness of the wine as well. This area is temperature-wise the most balanced area of Hungary. It is characterised by a long crop year (the grape springs and ripens sooner), therefore I am trying my best to use this endowment.
The fact that the almond blooms here much sooner, and that even the truly mediterranean plants like it here too, shows the unique microclimate. A two acres mediterranean arboretum and a pomegranate plantation decorates my neighbourhood. There are three cork oaks living happily in front of my cellar, which is almost impossible in this country (it even became a popular local winemaker wish to say to each other ‘May your cork oak grow tall!’). If I live to see it, then the bark of my cork oaks will be suitable for turning it into corks – only need to wait 77 years for that 🙂 – and I will seal my wines with my own corks.
There are more than 20 harvests behind me in the Villány wine region, and I do believe that this area is the home of cabernet franc. It is characterized by its high clay content (therefore the old cellars in the neighbourhood don’t have vaults), and the limestone giving lively acids, which adds value to the rich red wines with long life.
The area, by the way, is at the meeting point of the Középvölgy and the Kövesföld vineyards, but to me the vineyard mythology doesn’t matter, this place captured me – and this strong feeling means more than anything. To me this place is the centre of the world.
THE END OF THE ROAD IS THE ENDLESS SIMPLICITY
I don’t want anything more or bigger. I work by myself following my own rhythm. Of course, I follow the rhythm of nature as well, where everything has its own place and time, there and then, no compromises. My own rhythm leans into nature’s, I follow the way Earth’s heart is beating.
Since every vintage is different, this profession requires a constant alertness and improvement. For this, you have to live together with the vineyard, there is no other way. To experience, to feel, to observe it, to tune in with it, to understand every little bit of detail of it. After 10 years I know every bit of my estate. Just like you recognise the small facial expressions of a person you know well.
When it comes to wine making I tend to follow a different, inner focus, and not a direction or trend. I use the elements of organic or biodynamic cultivation, the most important part is that the grape should get what’s good for it. I’d like to create the most natural unity between grape and men. I aim for the most simple method of wine making, where besides knowledge and mindfulness you’ll need instinct as well.
And of course there are a few important tools – without these the wines would not be the way they are:
The building is a cellar with three floors, without a pump. I spent the ‘price of a house’ on the elevator, while renting a one and a half room flat with the kids for a fair amount of time… This was very important to me to have a true gravity winery – I simply cannot let the pump to spoil the wine I’ve been working for the whole year. My wine ‘Instead of the Honeymoon’ bears the mark of the purchase of this obsession. Not hard to guess why…
The old, timeless Kossuth press that I have gotten from my friend Sanyi Zsurki is symbolic to me as well. I renovated it and adapted it to the needs and knowledge of the present.
I’d like to live slower, more consciously, and more thoughtfully. Less is more. The end of the road is endless simplicity.
This is being represented by the size and the content of the estate. I only want as many grapes as I can cultivate myself – I consciously planted only two grape varieties, cabernet franc and blaufränkisch, as these varieties are the closest to me. Cabernet franc is an elegant, royal bloodline, while the blaufränkisch is a true Pannon grape, unbridled lively individuality.
I think that with two grape varieties I am able to unfold every desire of mine, my curiosity, and I get to know them on a deeper level. Rising above the struggles of everyday life, I’d like to give joy with my wines.
It is impossible to live without white wine, and it is not worth it without red. A rare face of the cabernet franc looks back at me in this white wine. I was looking for the inner essence below the surface. Following the freedom of experimenting, I was curious what the juicy grape-meat (without the skin) can provide. The answer gets revealed in this wine.
(DRINKING IS GOOD)
My younger son Vencel tasted a sip and said, it feels good to drink, then my eldest, Vince, pondered on ‘Drinking is good!’ - so my three year old instinctively articulated the essence we all have been working towards for generations.
(INSTEAD OF THE HONEYMOON)
To the joy of the family, I used the money put aside for the honeymoon to buy this vineyard. I ‘had to’, it was love at first sight, the world expands for me here and everything just fits into these barely two hectares. This little estate has been the constantly renewing symbol of togetherness, challenge, and happiness for us.