Can't Miss Wine Country

There's a good chance that when you think of wine country, you're not necessarily picturing Hungary.

There’s a good chance that when you think of Hungary, you’re not necessarily picturing wine country. Or at least, I certainly wasn’t before I visited the country to attend ASTA’s Global River Cruise Expo. So, imagine my surprise upon learning that Hungary doesn’t just produce delicious wines, but that it does so across an astonishing 22 wine regions. 

Although Hungary has been producing wine for more than 1,000 years, not much of it makes it outside of the country—which explains why most Americans are probably unfamiliar with it. The lack of export also means that sipping Hungarian wines is an exclusive opportunity that can basically only be had in-destination. Could there be any greater selling point for wine aficionados? 

What’s more, the last 20 years or so have been an exciting time for wine making in the country. While Hungary was under communist rule, most of its vineyards were controlled by the state, which prioritized quantity over quality. After communism came to end in Hungary in 1989, privately owned wineries started popping up again, bringing back high-quality Hungarian varietals and re-establishing old traditions, as well as experimenting and innovating with modern techniques.  

While Tokaj is Hungary’s best-known wine region, my travels took me to the Etyek area, conveniently located just a half-hour’s drive west of Budapest. This region’s proximity to the capital makes it perfect for clients seeking an easy daytrip outside the city into idyllic natural surroundings.  

My first stop was at Etyeki Kúria, a sleek and contemporary winery that was founded in 1996. In addition to offering a wine bar, Etyeki Kúria is home to a beautiful glass-walled Wine Tasting Hall with views of its surrounding vineyards. After a number of delicious tastings, I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of bottles—especially once I realized how shockingly affordable they were. (A bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc set me back just $6, and the Pinot Noir I chose cost around $11; both were an absolute steal for the quality.) 

I found a decidedly different vibe at the next winery I visited, the family-owned Rókusfalvy Birtok. With its tasting room in a cool, stone-lined wine cellar, Rókusfalvy Birtok evokes Old-World Europe at its finest. After soaking in the atmosphere and sipping a selection of excellent tastings, I made my way to the winery’s nearby restaurant, Rókusfalvy Fogadó, which focuses on simple, yet beautifully executed, dishes—accompanied by more pours of the estate’s wines, of course.  

Savoring a bite of perfectly cooked duck breast served atop fluffy gnocchi and braised cabbage, I felt that I could have been in any number of the world’s top wine regions—but without crowds, any trace of pretention, or a high price point. And before I had even left, I was already plotting how I could arrange a future return.  


Kelly Rosenfeld is the Senior Editor of TravelAge West, Family Getaways and Explorer magazines. More of her work can be found at

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