It is believed that wine was cultivated in western Hungary under the Roman Empire, in Pannonia, which is today known as Transdanubia. Following the arrival of the Seven Magyar tribes in the 9th century, winemaking continued to flourish. The Turkish occupation from the mid-16th to the late-17th century was a dark time for Hungary’s wine industry, and this was repeated again under the Communist rule from 1947 until 1989.
Since the end of the Soviet era in Hungary the wine industry has fragmented into a large number of small estates, has benefited from significant foreign investment, and is now experiencing a full-scale renaissance. The Danube River flows from north to south down the center of the country, dividing it in two passing through Budapest, its largest and most important city. To the west of the Danube lies Lake Balaton, Europe’s largest lake and an emerging area for top-quality wines from the nation; many other smaller appellation areas are producing wines from both native Hungarian and international varieties.
Rich in natural beauty and resources, there are 22 wine regions in Hungary, which is known for its Tokaji wine. The Tokaj-Hegyalka regions lie in the northeast along the foothills with warm summers and cold winters. Hungary has a distinct and rich range of native grape varieties with white wines often made from Ezerjó, which produces light, fresh wines; Furmint and Hárslevelu, which produce dry wines and are also a key component in Tokaji wines. Red wines are often made from Kadarka, Kékfrankos (Austrias Blaufränkisch), and some imported varieties from Western Europe.