Wine Tourism in Eger and Its Surroundings
Eger wine-country is situated in the foot-hills and slopes of the Bükk Mountains. In semi-circle arrangement grape-covered hills stretch as far as the eye see in front of the peculiar-shaped Nagy-Eged mountain, which is of volcanic origin. Excellent red and white wines are cultivated on this land, of which the best-known are the legendary 'Egri Bikavér' and the 'Egri leányka'. In this land the grape and wine growing has great traditions: grapes were grown here as early as the times of Roman Rule. The wines of Eger were also famous in the era of the Arpad dynasty, and the importance of this activity was recorded in documents from the Medieval Times as well. The centre of this area is Eger, which offers an unparallelled potential for excellent wine types with its unique, 140-km-long wine-cellar system originating from the Middle Ages. The peculiarity of the cellar labyrinths, which can be several hundred metres, is that they provide uniform temperature and humidity for the mellowing and storing of wines. The thick, beneficial mould that accumulated on the walls and the barrels in the cellar branches make for an unforgetteble experience and a magnificent sight for the visitor.
The rows of wine-cellars of Eger have a very good reputation, as well as the cellars of Kis- and Nagykoporos, Kolyuk, Veroszala, and Szépasszony-valley has become a household-name among tourists who have visited Eger. The villages and towns of the wine-country- Andornaktálya, Egerszalók, Feldebro, Noszvaj, Ostoros, Verpelét - offer excellent wine-cellars and the visitor can taste the most delicious wines.
To understand the secret of the wines of Eger one has to examine all these factors locally: the excellent soil, the climate, the acclimatised grape-types, the mellowing function of the wine-cellars and the expertise and work morale of the dedicated wine-growers.
The Wine-country of Mátraalja
In the Mátraalja region peoples grew grapes and made wine even before the Hungarian Conquest. We have a written record from 1042 on the grape cultivation of the peasants of the Aba clan. Introduction of grapes on a greater scale began in the 13th century, and trading with wine became significant in the 14th century. The largest grape estate was in Visonta in the possession of the Haller family. In the 1800s the area of grape estates in the Mátraalja region reached 8500 hectares, and of these estates the grape cultivation of Gyöngyös was the most significant. At the foothills of the Mátra mountains the mutual effect of the varied soil types and the different length of the sunny hours created several microclimates. This is the place where the 'sun and the mountains blend'. This colourful scale of natural conditions asserts itself especially in the production of white wines- many different types of fresh, scented wine can be cultivated in the Mátraalja region. Today the area of grape estates of the settlements in this wine-country amount to 7000 hectares. The most significant wine producing settlements are: Abasár, Markaz, Visonta, Nagyréde, Gyöngyöspata, Gyöngyöstarján, Kisnána. Apart from the traditional grape types like the 'olaszrizling', 'leányka' and 'muscat ottonel' the not so usual types 'szürkebarát', 'sauvignon blanc' and 'chardonnay' also make for excellent quality wines.
A well-known place of this wine-country is the row of wine-cellars in Farkasmályi situated next to Gyöngyös, famous for its beautiful, ancient press-houses, where the visitor is awaited with complete programmes.