HUNGARY - 2010 & 2013

This series of pictures of Hungary involve the story of our Hungarian part of our 2010 Wine Trip to select wines of ancient grape varieties for our wine import business, and the cultural sites we saw along the way. In 2013, at the end of our Danube River Cruise, we visited several wineries who we were importing from and the historic town of Pecs.  There is so much to know about Hungary that the narrative will be added at another time.  The vast history of invasions, conflict and artistry of Hungary is complicated. For now its just our pictures, but below is a list of events to know about Hungary ... it is only a small list:

  • Ottoman Empire invasions
  • Roman city of Pécs in Southern Hungary, founded by the Romans
  • Austrian-Hungarian Empire
  • WWII participation
  • The terror reigned down on Hungarians by Hungary's equivalent of the SS under Soviet occupation
  • Hardship of German immigrants, who were invited to Hungary by the Hapsburgs to work work in agriculture in Southern Hungary
  • Wine history pre-5th century AD.
The pictures are in the order of our experience in 2010 when we were selecting wines to start Old World Vines, our wine import business, now known as Wines of Greece.  We entered Hungary from Osijek, Croatia, heading to Hungary's equivalent of Napa Valley, Villányi (pronounced vee-lawn), known for it's red wine.  It was an amazing 3 weeks that was extended to 4 weeks due to the Icelandic Volcano explosion, We found ourselves stuck in the Frankfurt airport with lines of people everywhere and Frankfurt hotels, rental cars and trains sold out.  There we were with 3 suitcases of wine, plus our suitcase of cloths, at 6:30 am wondering what to do.  Long story short, John found an empty kiosk with train tickets to Cologne, Germany ... off we went to Cologne where we fortunately found a hotel and for 3 days saw the sights, on the 3rd day United Airlines notified us we could fly home in 5 days, meanwhile John was lucky enough to be at a rental car desk when someone turned in a car ... the attendant handed him the keys and off we went to Belgium to drink beer.  We returned home 5 days later with 3 suitcases of wine and exhausted, but had an amazing time!  In the end, the trip spanned six countries.  To see other pics from our 2010 wine trip visit pics for the countries: Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Belgium and Germany.

Osijek, Croatia and crossing border to Hungary

Osijek has the feel of a harder communist era.  It is a border town to Hungary and Serbia.  The communist statues and concrete buildings are a reminder of times that were very difficult.

When we crossed into Hungary it was the end of their Easter holiday weekend and apparently, it is a time when immigrants from Albania and other southern Europe countries are either coming back to work and possibly illegal immigrants trying to look for work.  The border inspections were detailed and long, so long that traffic was backed up for miles.  Those who knew about the situation had prepared picnics, played games on the side of the road, and had long conversations with others.  It was fairly comical after awhile.

We had about 10 cases of wine in our trunk since we were selecting wines for the import business.  When the inspector asked John, in broken English,  "What's in the trunk" ... John sheeplishly replied, "Wine".  He instructed John to open the trunk and when the Border Officer saw all the wine, in amazement he said, "You gotta lot a wine!", LOL.  He handed John our passports, closed the trunk and off we went as fast as we could, LOL.

Villány - Red Wine Region

Bock Winery - Imported by Old World Vines, now Wines of Greece

Notable Wineries: Jekyl, Tiffan, and Sauska

Szekszárd - Red Wine Region

Notable Wineries: Vida and Takler

Balatonboglár White Wine Region

Lake Balaton is Central Europe's largest lake and a major tourist destination during the summer.

Légli Winery - Imported by Old World Vines, now Wines of Greece

Somló White Wine Region

Ozswald Winery - Imported by Old World Vines, now Wines of Greece

This very unique wine region is known for it's indigenous grape variety Juhfark (prounced You-fark).  The tiny region is built on an extinct volcano and the wine has a distinctive smoky taste.


Vezprem is a very cool university town.  Music can be heard as you stroll around the town.  A major part of the town is on a hill with sheer cliffs on each side with the most narrow part having a monument located at the tip.  This is where we had our first Leffe beer, a Belgium beer that is soooo yummmmm!

Budapest 2010 & 1013

Budapest is a beautiful city! It reminds me of a small Vienna. Budapest wears it's conflict and struggles on it's sleeve with it's monuments, statues and Terror Museum.  In Roosevelt Square, which has been renamed in recent years, there are two statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  There is so much to do and see here.  Some of the more renowned sites are: Gellert Bridge, Turkish baths, a three story indoor farmers market, the Parliament building, Buda Castle, the Terror Museum ... the list goes on and on.  Below the pics of B&W photos are from the Terror Museum which is a chilling walk through time during the Nazi and Soviet occupations, and Hungary's government being part of the brutal treatment of citizens. The museum is in the same building of the secret police's headquarters; first the Nazi's Secret Police, then the Soviet's known as the AVH.  Getting back to the black & white photos, they are of each person who died in that building.  The photos fill 3 walls from the ground up to approximately four stories.  It's chilling, but done in an educational manner and worth every second you are in the building.
*The image of Stephen I of Hungary's right hand is courtesy of Wikipedia ... ours had reflection glare that made it difficult to see.

Eger - University Town

Tokaj Famous White Wine Region

from wikipedia: " Tokaj (pronounced: Toe-kai) has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 under the name Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape.[1] However, its fame long predated this distinction because it is the origin of Tokaji aszú wine, the world's oldest botrytized wine. ...  The wine-growing area was first mentioned by the name Tokaj in 1067. ... It's origin of wine making is documented as far back as the 12th century, but thought to be even earlier.  Read more here"  Botrytis cinerea is a mold that dries out a grape on the vine, and only occurs under certain weather conditions.  Botrytis grapes give wine the carmel, honey, tabacco and apricot flavors.

Erzsébet Cellar in Tokaj village - Imported by Old World Vines, now Wines of Greece

Such an exciting tasting at this winery and the Prascer family, owners, are so wonderful.  There cellar was previously owned by the Russian Wine Trading Company, and the source of aszú wines for the Czars of Russia and Poland.   Note: the last two pics are of us trying to figure out how to pack 13 plus cases of wine.  We ended up attempting to ship 5 of the cases, which didn't work out too well, so our wine resource picked them up from Vienna's export office and found them a good home in his wine cellar.   : -)

Pannonhalma Archabbey - Where monks have been making wine for generations