After two pandemic-filled, quarantined and lockdown years, we haven’t changed course in 2022 or diverted onto weird pathways either. We’re still doing what we did four decades ago: a bit of winemaking, vineyard tending and of course, receiving guests.
We could simplify it down like this but in reality our three main tasks are built up of many small pieces – we sometimes have trouble putting them all together but we’ve never given up on the puzzle yet, as the game is always quite exciting!
Let’s take a look at last year’s accolades from a closer perspective.
In the Malomfeli vineyard everything is in order and neatly organised.
We’ve grown a bit in terms of land, managing to repurchase a piece of plot back in the Spring of 2022 – around 0.2 hectares of area had become ours again. 17 years ago we had to get rid of it for the sake of a generally better organisation of the entire vineyard. As it is, fate brought it back into our hands once more. Summer has seen a small tidying up of the place: with a bit of work we turned it into a shaded resting place meant for our vineyard workers who happen to be on a lunch break or perhaps a small tractor refuelling on gas.
August brought a harvest that had arrived earlier than any harvest before. A hot and dry overall, we wrote its own article for this one. You can read it here.
Many of our visitors chose the lengthy 4-5 hour long opt-in program called „Vineyard visit with the winemaker” this year as well. A complex wine tasting combined with a visit between the graperows brings our guests that much closer to nature. For those who venture to the top of Zemplén mountain, a beautiful panorama greets them.
When it comes to winemaking itself we’ve successfully transferred the wines – prepped back in Winter – from barrels to bottles in Spring 2022. Our wonderfully scented late Muscat barely managed to ’survive’ until the end of the year (you can purchase some of the last bottles here in our webshop) and the Furmint is also going at an alarming rate – which is great!
This Summer also saw the debut of a rare dry Szamorodni wine here at our winery. Originating from 2017, the many positive reviews about the wine made it well worth the wait and many people brought some back home after a tasting session. However, we’ve anticipated the wine to be less well-received and doubted its debut. Why? You can read all about it in this article.
At the end of November we saw the pre-order campaign of our Kövérszőlő made sweet Szamorodni to be a successful endeavour. Despite its ’young age’, it shows great potential in the future: in a taste test from VinCe Magazine it received four stars with a positive and promising review.
We’ve seen a handful of upgrades and improvements arrive to Tokaj and the wine region overall, hoping to make this place a more welcoming, worthy and homely environment for all tourists who visit here.
However, we weren’t content with the many delays that came with these improvements and their ways of implementation. This resulted in hitting our location hard in the middle of the hot Summer tourist season: the construction works made it much more difficult and confusing to approach our small winery along with many other cellars in the vicinity of the downtown area. During our toughest workdays we had to work with the extra pressure of creating maps and signs to help visitors find their way to us in the midst of all these construction blockades and road closures. We did what we could with the situation, although the vice of these delays showed their effect on the reduced total guest numbers in July and August.
So what was the grand result of these renovations? What’s sure is that the town is much more calm and quiet compared to the Summertime chaos. The best experience is for you to come visit and see the freshened Tokaj for yourself.
Our Dózsa György street is also seeing some refurbishments and improvements. Part of this has been finished in November but we’re looking to finish up by Spring. We’re planning to make it neat and welcoming.
Nearly 11.000 guests made their way to our little winery last year, which is a hopeful achievement compared to the previous two pandemic-blocked years. The Wine Days in June were met with great weather and all visitors could enjoy a pleasant garden concert we’ve managed to host. When it comes to the Harvest Festival, nature was not kind to us. The rain decided to cover the whole of the event. Fortunately, one of our long-time customers offered to lend us a few larger tents, making the saddened rainy day that much more bearable and even enjoyable.
Of course it wasn’t only these two short weekends that were the most memorable in our lives. We continue to believe that the town will be full of life only when in addition to the event-filled weekends, the many weekdays are also scheduled chock full of fun programmes to attend and sights to see. We hope to see more places without the need to make strict appointments and for visitors to be able to just sit in and chill for a bit. This is changing slower than we’d like, but hopefully more and more businesses are gravitating this way. Our goal remains: we’ll still try our best to be open 361 days of the year with an open cellar, that usual calming atmosphere, multiple tasting events and an eventful experience for all wine lovers.
We celebrated our founding father’s birthday in July – Gyula Várhelyi, the founder of Hímesudvar turned 80 last year. Some guests have met him and can still meet him, as „Gyula bácsi” still contributes his fair share to making the winery neat and clean from fallen leaves all year long.
It’s hard to say when the idea sparked inside his mind – to build up a small winery in Tokaj and make it into a humble but flourishing business. All we know is that at the end of the ’70s, he and our Mother bought their first bit of land in the village of Monok, where we kids were first familiarised with grapes.
At the end of the ’80s we ventured into the world of winemaking with only a few barrels of some juice which we called wine. This venture started in the hunting house of Szapolyai – which we call Hímesudvar now – purchased in 1983.
1983 is probably the one milestone which says „the creation of Hímesudvar” in the best way. This was 40 years ago now, meaning that 2023 is a special anniversary year here at the winery – we’d like to celebrate this one in its own special way.
This celebration saw an early, advance sign in the form of a pre-order opportunity of our 2013 assortment available from December 10th. There were only 100 boxes made from this set.
In the perspective of all the resources we have, it’s extremely taxing to be an „all-available” business as such a small, family-sized venture. This shows well in the management of time, money and energy. Although we always try our best, a kind word, a positive review or a smiley guest enjoying their glass always refills us with some of that well-needed strength to keep our work going.
Our guestbook is a lovely mirror for feedback and an authentic way to show just how popular we are abroad as well as here in the country. To read its entries fills us with joy but also places upon us a certain responsibility to keep performing at a high standard. We’d like to keep that standard up during 2023 and take our place in the scene of high quality wines, provide a great atmosphere for our visitors and ensure that your time spent here will be remembered as time efficiently and well spent in all your memories made at the winery.
translated by Mara Várhelyi