A blanket of soft, fresh grass, comfy garden chairs, wooden tables, snacks and drinks served from an old circus car, gray cattle grazing nearby, Balaton beneath your feet – that’s what awaits visitors at the picnic bar of Istvándy Winery at the foot of Tóti Hill. The owners say the cellar has entered a new era, so we stopped by last weekend to explore the new outdoor hangout.
The Istvándy family kicked off the season with a series of successes. At this spring’s Vinea Balaton judging session, their winery’s Welschriesling was awarded the BalatonBor trademark, and they were also included in the higher category called HegyBor. Meanwhile, the cellar transitioned into a new era around early spring named after Kéknyelű, a grape variety grown exclusively on the vineyards of Badacsony, which the family has placed special emphasis on in the past few years.
The Istvándys have always been open to change, but the cellar has lacked a sort of youthful momentum until now. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned website, the cool, reserved style of the wine labels, or the “elegance bottled up” slogan; in any case, despite the wine terrace and the stunning panorama, we’d always thought this venue was more suitable for dinner than a relaxed fröccs party.
Opened a few weeks ago, the picnic bar next to the wine terrace brought a new vibe to the neighborhood; it might just become our favorite open-air location for a drink this summer.
What makes the bar so loveable is that it’s not overcomplicated; it doesn’t want to be more than it is. All the family did was make use of the possibilities inherent in the area and the family business, and created a cozy, no-frills place with high-quality ingredients. A couple of facts worth knowing about the picnic bar:
- Whether you come on foot, by bike, with your dog or your children, you’re going to feel equally welcome.
- If all the hammocks are taken, just settle down on the lawn. You won’t be told off for sitting on the ground or being barefoot.
- You don’t have to fight anyone to be able to see the panorama because the charming view of Balaton can be enjoyed from anywhere on the hillside.
- If you’re lucky, you can meet Gergely Istvándy, the young winemaker of the family at the bar, and chat with him to find out everything about the cellar.
- The drinks menu isn’t too complicated: there’s bottled soda water, a variety of coffees, and “stress relievers” (try BalatonBor for an easy fröccs, or go with Kékderű from 2015 if you like to keep up with the trends of the winemaking world) The wines cost 390-650 forints/dl.
- There’s no need to bring a snack with you: the grilled "focaccia" sandwiches, which cost 1,450 forints, are packed with mangalica meat sourced from the estate, but you can order the vegetarian version, or the one made with trout as well. If all goes according to plan, guests will soon be able to nibble on the contents of a generously filled picnic basket to make the fröccs drinking experience even more complete.