Besides the long-established main wineries, there are always new cellars popping up around Lake Balaton. These five lesser-known spots look particularly promising.
Arias Wine Estate
József Kálmán is not exactly a beginner, as he was named the Winemaker of the Year in Balatonfüred. Now called Arias, his recently renamed winery has only just been discovered by We Love Balaton. Working with grapes was a big change in his life, as he moved from Salgótarján in north-east Hungary to Pécselyi-medence near Lake Balaton. His technical past comes handy as, based on his ideas, the winery remodels their machines to make them more suitable for the local rocky soil.
Pécselyi-medence is a whole other world, with a rich and unique wildlife. Deer often pay a visit to the vineyards, and the winery is named after the Arias jewel beetle, an insect only found in the Balaton Uplands for many generations. Pictures of the local fauna adorn wine the labels, too.
Why not sample: the Chardonnay made from Megyhegy grapes, a wine that’s perfect for any occasion.
A zöld ajtós ház
Anett Fárbás bought the cellar in Kishegy from her father three years ago to continue his work. The place, built in 1995, has a wonderful view, and Fárbás, who has a degree in viticulture and winemaking, is following in the family tradition after stints at the Garamvári and Ikon wineries. Their 2018 Királyleányka wine was a huge success when it debuted at the local culinary carnival. A guesthouse is set to be finished this October, after which you can sip wine on the terrace while admiring Badacsony across the lake.
Why not sample: the winery’s items at Gianpiero’s Restaurant in Balatonboglár – their Olaszriesling goes perfectly with Balaton fish.
Grand Vin de Barnag
Barnag is located north of Pécsely. The French-like name of the winery was inspired by a joke among friends, and it clicked. Bence Szilágyi continued his father’s hobby of winemaking when he produced his first bottles in 2017. These first attempts were so good that he made more, with greater attention on the following year. Here wine is made with as little interference as possible, which means a lot of work on the vineyards, especially because they use chemical-free methods. The first examples by the Grand Vin de Barnag met with great success at the Sophie by Nature stand at the Gourmet Festival.
Why not sample: the excellent Fieldblend wine, which walks a fine line between rosé and red. As the winery is new, you can only visit if you book an appointment.
Kékajtó Winery and Vineyard
Miklós Németh worked in the hospitality industry and, with 20 years' wine-tasting experience, he decided to make his own. His journey started at a friend’s vineyard in Borochegy at Kőröshegy, and now he works on almost four hectares. The winery believes that outstanding wines require outstanding grapes, so they employ organic methods to ensure this quality. They also try to interfere as little as possible during the winemaking process so that the final product can best showcase the vineyard’s characteristics.
The Kékfrankos of their first, 2016 vintage was so good that it made the selection of Bortársaság, Hungary's leading wine merchants. Plans now include finding specific varieties that work best on the terroir of Borochegy. This means Olaszriesling and Riesling for white wines, while the road ahead for reds is yet unclear. The winery is open to visitors who make an appointment – after a tour of the estate, you can become acquainted with Kékajtó wines, with six or seven items ready for tasting in the cellar.
Why not sample: their superb Olaszriesling and Kékfrankos – they should help you figure out why the owner started making wine in the first place.
The selection at this winery, owned by Máté Barcza and family, is the traditional Badacsony one: mainly Riesling, Pinot Gris and Zenit grapes, but there are also Zeus, Pinot Noir, Kéknyelű, Rózsakő and Muscat Blanc plants on the estate. They’ve been making wine since 1996, but only started selling it in 2018. Their wines are made with spontaneous fermentation. For now they only use steel tanks, but they plan to mature their wine in wooden barrels, too. The winery’s items are rich, made from perfectly ripened grapes.
If you want to taste their wine, visit their cellar in Badacsonyörs after prior appointment, but you can also try their items at the Pláne Wine Terrace and the Vánkos bistro, or at the Kadarka Bar in Budapest.
Why not sample: Kéknyelű, almost exclusively available in Badacsony. The winery married it with another local variety, Rózsakő, in 2017, for something truly unique.