When you arrive to Balaton from the east or the north the most plausible thing is to just stay there and leave the car somewhere. It could work, but we have a very strong argument for staying in the car and continuing the ride along the shore to the south-western area. The local legends not only grab the tools and work hard, but they produce great wines for the whole country. Wines around Balaton chapter II. From Kéthely until Balatonszemes.
The Southern-Balaton wine area is 50 kilometres long and it is located between Balatonkeresztúr and Zamárdi. It is runs 20 kilometres from Balaton’s South Shore to the direction of Somogy's center. Eighty per cent of its vineyards are perfect; the soil is composed of clay and sand which is perfect for királyleányka, chardonnay, grüner veltliner from the white wines and merlot, blaufränkisch from the red side.
You will find the finest selection around Balatonboglár and Balatonlelle. Kishegy in Balatonlelle and the area of Balatonboglár, Szőlőkislak and Szőlősgyörök are full of wineries. By picking the rich Balatonboglár's wine area, we chose to take the highway of this topic.
It is really worth hiding in Bujdosó Pince in Balatonszemes, and ask for one of their sparkling wines. The new generation has beaten the elders and took the helm: they are very active on the reforming, improving end in order to define themselves as the new. Take a detour to the nearby Kistücsök Restaurant if you feel hungry. Kistücsök is one of the best restaurants in Hungary, and Balázs Csapody the owner always keeps an eye on the wines. You will find the products of famous wineries here, but Balázs Csapody offers the great wines from less known local wine makers, too.
The Légli brothers in Balatonboglár will be always nice to you as long as you are aware of which one is who. Ottó Légli is the oldest brother who has been a renowned wine maker for decades, and you can bump into his products almost everywhere. He is the master of light-bodied fruity white wines. Légli Blanc is an important figure on the shelves of supermarkets and in the hands of the sommeliers of the gourmet stronghold Chateau Visz castle hotel as well.
Szőlőskislak close to Balatonboglár is the HQ of the other two Légli brothers. Attila Légli works in a pottery. Géza Légli loathed viniculture as a child, so he started his career as a potter too, but at one point he decided to return to the grapes, and now he is the leader of Kislaki Bormanufaktúra. He is not playing on the same field as his brother, because their methods are very different; probably they disagree on many points.
Géza uses the artisan methods to get to the heart of wine enthusiasts thirsty for curiosities. His Kislaki Pirosbor is quite popular though, it is recommended for everyone, because it is light and tasty at the same time. It is cheap - but not in a bad way at all.
There is another renowned wine maker family in Balatonlelle only one step away from Balatonboglár. János Konyári is a truly restless wine maker: he is in charge of Ikon borászat in Rádpuszta and Rádi-hegy (which used to be the vineyard of Tihany Abbey) and the family winery called Konyári. In the family business he cooperates with his globetrotter son Dániel Konyári who used to work in the vineyards of South-Africa and California.
Some say, that the elder Konyári was the first who used barrique barrels in the wine making process in Hungary and his family made the first prime red wine of South-Balaton to cope with the flood from South-Africa, Portugal, California and New-Zealand. Loliense is produced as red and white wine as well, it is considered as Konyári family's beloved favourite child. According to wine experts it is South-Balaton's response to Villány's celebrated wines.
The Konyáris are not only famous for their wines. Their wine cellar is one of the most modern and most amazing cellars in Hungary. We were used to gritty plastic barrels and cheap drinking huts for tourists, but this hidden spot on Kishegy is surrounded by pleasant Mediterranean woods. Dániel Konyári prefers the calm silence over the guests' noise, so despite the fact that he is considered the Brad Pitt of wine makers, he is not a true party person.
And the summary of Konyári's is far from over. There is an Italian-like apartment over their wine cellar on the side of the hill, and even higher you'll find Majthényi présház étterem. The view and the delicious meals make Majthényi a must for the visitors.
Konyári played his part in the rise of the Kishegy area's other powerhouse, Garamvári Szőlőbirtok (formerly St. Donatus Pincészet)as well. Even though the Konyári family seems to rule Kishegy as the Lannisters rule Casterly Rock, there are other options here, too. Vencel Garamvári's bottles are easy to find on the upper shelves of the supermarkets, just search for the egret on the vignettes. The real speciality of Garamvári Szőlőbirtok is the champagne selection called Vince. The renowned cuvées of Pócz pincészet are made here on Kishegy too, from chardonnay, grüner veltliner, muscat lunal, irsai olivér and welschenriesling.
We don't have enough space for every winery, but stepping out from the area of Balatonszemes, Balatonboglár and Balatonlelle seems to be a good idea too. Dél-Balatoni Borút (South-Balaton Wine Road) could help you out; it will lead you along the way to the local wine makers. All you need to do is to follow the yellow signs.
You should listen to Balázs Csapody and take a detour from Balaton in the direction of Kötcse, because Veszprémi Pincészet offers magnificent red wine made of portugieser and blaufränkisch. The west end of the wine area could be a good choice, and we recommend checking out Kéthely because of the Öregbaglas Szőlőbirtok. This 240-year-old winery belongs to the Swiss Burkhalter family. You need to book a date for a wine tasting, but you can buy their products anytime.