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Oenophiles are headed to Hungary as the country continues to make strides to gain legitimacy as a wine tourism destination. Wine families who’ve dominated the industry for years are passing the baton, or rather, the decanter, down to younger generations who are shifting the industry’s focus from quantity to quality.
Though Budapest has its share of wine bars, to fully experience the country’s wine revival, clients should get outside the city to explore the unspoiled — and uncrowded — vineyard towns. Renting a car is easy for clients in Budapest, and it is the best way to get around to the easily navigable wine regions.
BudapestYour clients will want to start in Budapest, Hungary’s capital, known for its mix of architecture and interesting history. But the city’s cultural and entertainment scene is taking center stage with some tasty street food and 25 Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as music festivals, rooftop bars and ruin bars (establishments built in the ruins of abandoned buildings).
Where to Stay: Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest is located in the city center, making it the ideal location for a walking tour of Budapest’s top sites. Deak Street Kitchen at nearby Ritz-Carlton, Budapest features an extensive menu of local wines.
Etyek Etyek, the closest wine region to Budapest, takes only a quick day trip. The destination is known for its sparkling wines and fruity whites.
Where to Taste: At Haraszthy Vallejo Winery, winemaker Vallejo Haraszthy produces high-quality chardonnay and pinot noir using modern techniques inspired by traditional methods.
Where to Eat: Rokusfalvy Estate is a countryside restaurant serving homey classics such as deer stew and flavored potato noodles. Its owner’s prodigal son, Palkó, received his wine education in New Zealand and California and successfully experiments with new blends and flavor profiles.
Where to Stay: The guesthouse at Rokusfalvy is rustic yet quaint, as well as a fantastic spot to crash after wining and dining at the restaurant.
Eger Eger, a small village located about 86 miles from Budapest, is known for its baroque architecture, historic castles, thermal baths and spicy red wines including the legendary “Bull’s Blood” (a potent and dry red wine).
Where to Eat: Kedves Bistro is located in a quaint village that’s shaped like a horseshoe and lined with outdoor cafes and tasting rooms. The bistro is the tasting room of St. Andrea wine, which is helmed by winemaker Lőrincz György and his son Lőrincz György, Jr. It’s a great spot to while away an afternoon with a scrumptious tapas menu.
What to Drink: St. Andrea wines embody the bold and refined flavor that Hungarian winemakers seek, especially the label’s Boldogsagos, a pinot noir and Merengo, a red blend.
TokajThose who follow Hungarian wines will surely know Tokaj, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the charming wine village of Mad. There’s a lot to do besides wine tasting, including touring castles and churches, ziplining, hiking and exploring adventure parks.
Where to Eat: Gusteau Restaurant is a popular spot among locals and a prime example of how the terroir of the region turns out perfectly paired food and wine. Don’t miss the smoked duck breast and lamb.
Where to Stay: Clients will feel like royalty at Castle Hotel Degenfeld Hotel, a chateau located among sprawling acres of vineyards on a beautiful estate.
What to Drink: If your clients have come this far to drink wine, they’ll certainly want to try the iconic Tokaji Aszu. It’s made from Hungary’s famous Furmint grape and a sweet, syrupy wine that is unique to the country.