Csopak and Paloznak. The two villages barely have more than 2,000 residents when combined, yet every summer they’re in the center of attention more than any other place at Balaton. The winemakers have their own codex, the local beach is stuffed, and one of the freshest and also most popular of festivals is organized here as well. Why are these two places so often talked about? We can’t answer this question, but we collected all the things we learned about them along the years to give those a compass who are just starting to get to know the area.
Csopak and Paloznak are great examples proving that gastronomy can indeed uplift a neighborhood. Local winemakers have been working for decades to turn Csopak into something more than one of the hills with a nice view. It’s not a surprise that Csopak Codex and such a renowned winemakers’ event like the so called Olaszrizling Szerintünk (Welschriesling, according to us) were both born here. So, if someone wants to learn more about the area, it might be best to start with those who engage with wines on a daily basis. We rounded up the articles about them first.
Tamás Kovács, the manager of Szent Donát Manor started winemaking with his father because they wanted to be able to sip their own wine under the almond trees of their estate while watching the Kékszalag sailing competition. However, became a bit larger, and we are pretty thankful for that.
István Jásdi is a living legend of the Hungarian winemaker-scene – he sold his successful business and decided to become a winemaker. After 50 years of abandonment, this building was acquired by the family in 1998. It’s worth to check out what became of it, what they filled the restored cellar up with. István Jásdi and Tamás Kovács came up with the idea of the independent origin and trademark protection system of Csopak Codex. Wines bearing this trademark have to fulfill the strictest quality and origin requirements of the country, so it’s worth trying a few Codex items while chatting with the host about the renaissance of the Welschriesling and the special features of the area.
The history of Guden Birtok dates back to the era of knights which is exceptionally exciting but even more interesting are the wines they make here under the leadership of Csaba Molnár. If you want to drink Guden-wine, you better hurry: there’re barely a 1,000 bottles of some of their items, and they are always quickly gone.
Let’s continue with the places in the area that are worth a visit if we want to taste wines.
Since the two villages were built on the sloping hillside and have a Mediterranean climate, together they could be named the citadel of wine terraces. Although the title doesn’t exist (yet), we award it to them in our minds. Hidden in the hillside, Szent Donát Manor is one of Csopak’s gems, and it’s not only a winery, but also part of Márga Bistro, with a talented chef and a huge panoramic terrace. They only process their own wines and every step takes place in the estate in Csopak.
Petrányi Cellar is less than a hundred meters away from here – it’s a place to visit for its wine selection and the meals that are made from locally sourced ingredients and are influenced by the gastro-revolution.
The arbor of Söptei Winery and Restaurant and the view from there are worth the climb, and we promise that the wine and the duck liver pate or the roasted pork knuckle will make up for it.
The Homola-family built an entire wine-empire in Paloznak. We can enjoy the sunset in the company of brilliant wines and delicious bites: the cold platters line up the cheeses, salamis, and hams of nearby producers and the so called Őshonos Delikát. They’re building a pension opposite the shop, but a guesthouse is also planned to be built, not to mention a winery with 200 thousand bottles of wine – the latter would also include a space where we can follow the grapes from the point they were harvested to when they are poured into bottles.
The neighboring Tamás Wineryhas the same good reputation – here they pay special attention to organic farming. Their lavender cider is a must-have, just like the chutneys and jams you can buy at their vinoteca.
Since we’re in the area, the next village, Lovas is just a quick trip away – a young couple had a big dream, and they left the mountains of Transylvania behind to open Levendula Cellar. Today they harvest Welschriesling, Chardonnay, Juhfark, and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties on three and a half hectares of excellent, red clay terroir.
Luckily for weary gastro-travelers, most cellars here also have a restaurant, and we mentioned almost all of them above, but it’s worth to take another look at these high-quality eateries.
Code Zero represents an entirely different genre– it’s all about the street food vibes, and the bright red color of this mini restaurant built from containers just adds to this. We mainly recommend this place to lovers of grilled food and salads.
Gastronomy is always in the center of attention when it comes to Csopak and Paloznak, but these are truly extraordinary communities.
Paloznak is famous for its quietness, cleanliness, and wonderful view, but this tranquility turns upside down for a few days every year, when music takes the stage. As part of the MOL Nagyon Balaton event series, the Jazz Picnic is organized here – it’s a festival where renowned Hungarian and international musicians of the genre play gigs. It’s a really unique experience to listen to jazz while lying in the grass, enjoying the view, and tasting the most savory items of the region.
Wandering through these two villages means that we will surely bump into the wooden design creations of the Hello Wood creative community. Architecture students from Hungarian universities made two installations two years ago, one of these is now at the beach, while the other is next to the main road, at Csonkatorony.
Those who want proof that the two villages really do have an unmatched view should visit one of the nearby hiking spots.A climb to the Sándor Endrődi Lookout Tower results in a beautiful view of Lake Balaton’s eastern basin and the southern slopes of the Bakony Mountains. Built in 1972, this wooden lookout tower can be reached by following the blue trail, and we can even have a pleasant picnic at the end of the tour.
It’s worth to hop on a bike in the area especially since the roads are perfectly fit for it, and we can even rent bikes at the municipal guesthouse in the center of Paloznak.