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Tokaj Fall Winery


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The Tokaj area is one of Hungary's most famous wine producing regions as vineyards have been cultivated here for CENTURIES. One of the highlights of our 2-day sojourn here was visiting a 400-500 year old cellar that was part of the Hapsburg king's private reserves. The popularity of Tokaj wines began in the Middle ages, and Louis XIV is attributed with calling the sweet aszu wines, "The wine of kings, the king of wines."

The region is long famous for its white wines, of which some are so delicate that all of the grapes must be picked by hand. We were lucky enough to visit some very old cellars, walk the vineyards, and visit with local pickers & makers, thanks to Kasshawna's very cool husband in the wine biz, Andras Kato. An interesting note, the hand-picked grapes are all gathered by women as men are said to be not patient enough for the task.

The first wine maker we visited with was the Patricia estate. The fall colors made the area truly spectacular.
This is pict shows the golden color of the aszu wines (aka the King). The wine is a sweet dessert wine that is very popular with Hungarians and much of the wine consuming world.
The above picture shows the results of 30 workers days' labor. As you can imagine, the wine is quite spendy with the intense labor needed for harvesting.
Why do they the grapes need to be picked by hand? Part of the unique flavor of the wines comes from a fungus which is one of those strange things that sounds quite gross but turns out to be a delicacy. The green fuzz on the aszu berries picked above is what the rant of Tokaji wines is all about.
This picture shows the grapes and the aszu berries. The berries must be the right softness in order to make the quality wines that the price affords.
You know who these people are.....
The tasting room at the Patricia Vineyards. This vineyard has only been producing for 200 years or so, but the facilities have been recently renovated and enhanced. The tasting room has a killer view...
This is the view from the tasting room. We were able to look out over the village of Tokaj as the sun set and sip lovely golden wine. We really suffer over here....
The next day featured an outing to the actual vineyards. On a warm fall day, it was quite pleasant. .
This is the Kato family. From right to left its: winemaker Chilla; wineseller and brother of Chilla, Andras; winemaker Rick, and my buddy Kasshawna. Chilla & Rick are working the harvest in Tokaj this year, although they have been making wines in Napa Valley for the last few years.
The workers of the vineyards are a combination of local Tokaj valley residents, winemaker volunteers (like Rick and Chilla above), and migrant workers. Pay is equivalent to $20 USD/day.
Another woman picker hand-selecting the dark purple aszu berries from the green grapes. The green grapes remaining after the berries are picked are later used in the Tokaji Furmint dry white wine, which I hate to say it, was actually my favorite of the region.
This archway is on the property of the Kiralyudvar Vineyards, one of Tokaj's largest producers and also rich in history. This cellar has been producing wines since the Middle Ages and was the private cellar of the Hapsburg rulers. Very cool.
This door leads down to cellars used for the past 500 years, by ruling Hapsburgs and Hungarian kings hence the name "Kiralyudvar" or palace of kings.

The cellar keeps the appropriate musty-mold friendly environment for again wine. You can see the mold that has flourish
on these bottles that have been here only since 2003. Can you imagine the mold over centuries?



Here we are after our 10 am tasting of more wine. We look quite happy don't we???

Local Area Pictures

Traveling by horse cart through the back vineyard roads
The Jewish cemetery near the village of Mad.
Village of Mad, with cemetery in foreground. The cemetery is abandoned as the Hungarian population of Jews was devastated during WWII. Some entire villages were completely destroyed due to fascist extermination policies.
Markers at the cemetery.
Vineyards. of Kiralyudvar
Vineyards. in their lovely fall colors








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