HUNGARY

Affinitás Kékfrankos

Sopron wine region is located in Hungary at the western Hungarian border with eastern Austria. In ancient times Sopron was a province of the Roman Empire and it was called Scarbantia. When the Hungarians arrived in the area in the 9th to 11th Century, Sopron was in ruins. The Hungarians rebuilt and strengthened the old Roman city with a protective wall and a castle. The Romans tended vineyards and after establishing the Hungarian state, the new settlers developed viticulture further. Historical documents show that extensive vineyards were already established in the 13th Century. In the 17th century, the city adopted protectionist laws banning the local sale of foreign wines, imposing taxes on any wine travelling through the region and limiting tavern rights to local growers.
Sopron exported a sizable portion of its production until the end of the 18th Century, wine was the main source of income in the region. As in the rest of Hungary, the 19th century was marked by quantity orientated wine production methods; it was cut short with the phylloxera epidemic destroying most of the vineyards. Until then most vineyards were planted with Furmint, producing sweet wines during suitable vintages, sweet wine also helping with conservation during transport to various regions and countries. After the phylloxera epidemic, sweet Sopron wines disappeared from the region entirely. Following the devastation of the vineyards due to the phylloxera and after the 2nd World War, Communism set up state farms managed by cooperatives. From then onwards industrialization and mass production became the order of the day.
A few decades later, the demise of Communism and privatization encouraged higher standards; small cellars re-established themselves with the aim of producing high-quality wines rather than volume. These small cellars attract many neighboring Austrians who find in Sopron good value and top quality wines. There are currently about a dozen of privately owned cellars located near the Austrian border.
Uniquely in Hungary, Sopron is home to the tavern-type establishment known as Buschenscbank. The institution goes back to the 17th century when Sopron emulated Lower Austrian regulations by allowing residents who took the civic oath to pour wine, strictly their own product, at their place of residence. The licensed neighborhood taverns had a sign made of a branch of fir suspended from a long pole over the entrance. The sign was decorated with white or red ribbon or a cross made from straw, depending on whether the house poured white, red or a mature old vintage. The wines were consumed on site, and the owner of the Buschenscbank made a point of honor to pour his finest wines.

The main varietal planted in Sopron nowadays is Kékfrankos, the appellation covers 1 800 hectares and the climate has a sub-alpine influence with frost-free springs, cool and rainy summers, sunny autumn which is advantageous for over-ripping, mild winters with a lot of rainfall.