Eyes on the panorama, ears on the winemaker, the rest of the senses on the wine and the cheese, patés, and breads on the side. Several Balaton wineries offer this experience all year round: many of them also participate in the autumn sequel of the Nyitott Balaton event series. Here are 9 of those you should visit. Vote for your favourite and you could win a prize from the winning winery!
István Jásdi is regarded to be the reviver of the old glory of Csopak's Welschriesling. Good wine is not the only result of his nearly two-decade-long efforts, there is also one of the best wine terraces of Lake Balaton. The Jásdi wine terrace in Csopak is open all year round: in the summer, you can sit outside, in the winter, you can gaze at the Csopak vineyards and the Zamárdi beach from behind huge windows. And while you're admiring the view, you can also taste and buy the wines of the winery. Sometimes, you can even bump into István Jásdi himself, who provides the perfect example of the proper use of the place: to lounge beside a bottle of Lőczedombi or Siralomvágó Welschriesling, enjoy the scenery and have a great chat.
Badacsony is brimming with excellent wineries, still it's the name Laposa that pops up most often. Bence and Zsófia Laposa are present everywhere where good wines are up for tasting, while the Laposa wines are available in a lot of places, like wine shops and supermarkets. When in Badacsony, it is worth the while to climb up to their hillside terrace, where you can taste Laposa Friss or 4 Hegy all year round, and also enjoy the snack platters and the company of either of the Laposa siblings.
The Istvándy is the kind of winery where the land is mentioned more often than the wines. It's not that the latter were bad (not at all), but the estate between Badacsony and Káptalantóti is really all you could imagine. The obligatry panorama of the Lake is accompanied by an idyllic, pastoral air with grazing grey cattle, a dog running around, and zip-line for kids. Plus, the kitchen of Csilla Istvándy is a guarantee for far better catering than the cheese platter-fatty bread line offers. From November until spring, you can find them at the Istvándy Winehouse.
László Gutman was studying to be a jurist, but luckily enough, he turned out as something completely different. The Gutman Wine Cellar stands a in the multi-winery township of Kötcse, only few kilometres away from the south shore of Balaton. The Gutman wines are recommended to those who fancy the artisan-organic trend. Tasting is recommended to everyone: you can also have pálinka and various snacks and dishes from cheese platters to bogrács-coooked courses along with your wine.
At the SKIZO WInehouse in Badacsonytördemic there is no hillside to enjoy the view of Lake Balaton from. There is however, a pleasant street, in which a few-year-old winehouse stands, which in turn comes with two winemakers, Balázs Sike and Sándor Mező, who cast their vote for the young and spectacular image when creating their brand. You can meet their bottles and their vivid colours in many places. The winehouse also follows the 'schizophrenic' spirit: the classic exterior hides a modern interior. The SKIZO is not constantly open from October to April, but you can always visit, taste and buy if you contact them in advance.
At the Söptei Winery in Csopak, food is not only an accessory but an equal to wine. The restaurant by the cellar is worth a visit itself, irrespective of wine. Even if it's a tad bit cold for sitting outside under the trellis, the restaurant is still open from Thursdays through Sundays from autumn to spring. You can also book a wine tasting session with the Söptei family on these days.
Restaurant, winehouse, and market: the steep climb up to the sizeable Szent Donát Winery in the side of Csopak's Szitahegy is definitely worth the effort. And not only because of the obligatory panorama. Although the restaurant and its gastronomical events are only running from spring to early autumn, the wines of Szent Donát are worth trying all year round. Having only recently burst into public awareness, this winery and its young vintner, Tamás Kovács have soon become one of the engines of Balaton's wine scene. For more, see the Csopak Codex, the Riesling Festival, the Balaton Circle and the excellent Rieslings that you can enjoy in a cellar of medieval air.
In the field of wines, Zamárdi cannot compete with Csopak just opposite to it, still the Bacsa family's enterprise, the Szent Kristóf Winery has been thriving in Zamárdi for over a decade now. Its success lies mostly in hospitality: the vaulted cellar and the patio under the apple trees are popular destinations. Accordingly, Szent Kristóf offers great ham- and miscellaneous platters and music on the side of wines. The archery and the petting zoo are recommended to those who are not of wine age yet.
The exotic-sounding Sabar is a hill by Káptalantóti, on the edge of the Káli Basin. Here is where economist Gábor Ádám and winemaker László Nagy (also known and recognized for being the manager of Villa Tolnay) set up their own artisan winery in 2009. Sabar is recommended for those looking for small production artisan wines. The winery on Sabar Hill also has a terrace, but for wine tasting (especially in the winter), we'd recommend the Badacsonyi Bortár in Badacsonytördemic. Here, you can taste products by Sabar, Villa Tolnay, Borbély Family Winery, and the Orbán Winery. Advance booking required between October and 15 March.