Wine regions

We currently farm 10 hectares in Tokaj and Balatonszőlős.


The viticulture and wine culture of Tokaj-Hegyalja dates back to thousand years. Respect for preservation of these historical traditions characterizes our winery.

Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén Megye
3 ha

Tokaj is located in the famous Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region, at the confluence of two rivers, Tisza and Bodrog. In addition to its extremely favorable natural features, the city is also world-famous for its ancient grape and wine culture. The viticulture and wine culture of Tokaj-Hegyalja dates back almost a thousand years. The documented history of the wine region proves that grape production has always taken place within the triangle defined by the “three tent hills” (Tokaji Hill, Sátor Hill in Abaújszántó and Sátor Hill in Sátoraljaújhely). In 1737, it was declared the first closed wine region in the world by given a royal decree, as a result of which wine production in this region has since taken place within a strictly regulated legal framework. Thanks to the preservation of the viticultural traditions throughout centuries UNESCO World Heritage Committee added the Tokaj wine region to the World Heritage List in 2002 as a cultural landscape. Tokaj-hegyalja combines Eastern, Caucasian and Western Roman viticultural traditions and cellar building customs. Through the building heritage of the settlements, the processes and historical traditions of Tokaj special winemaking can be perfectly identified. These historical traditions have shaped the formal appearance of the cellars and wineries that also characterize KERN Winery.


Birth and rise of Tokaji

Wine growing in this Eastern part of Hungary dates back to the 13th century. Monks from the order of St Paul set up cloisters and a vineyard here called Oremus (‘let us pray’). But the style we know today did not emerge until 1620. An advance by the Turkish army is said to have prevented harvesting and the grapes rotted. László Maté Szepsi, a Calvinist preacher, nevertheless ordered that the grapes be picked, even at this very late stage. The results were tremendous – a sweet wine with aromas of quince, beeswax and bitter orange was born.

Historical documents hailing from as early as the 13th century testify to the tradition of winemaking in the Tokaj region. According to the latest research Tokaj vineyards were first mentioned in a charter of donation by Béla IV. in 1252, but there can be little doubt that viticulture and winemaking was established earlier than this date. This is the beginning of the construction of the region’s typical underground cellars. At that time Italian and “Latin” vintners were settled here, their memory is reflected in the name of several towns or part of settlements (ex. Bodrogolaszi, Olaszliszka).

At the beginning of the 16th century with the arrival of the Ottoman armies the people of Szerémség (Syrmia, today in Serbia) were forced to leave their homes and some of them settled down in Hegyalja (another name for the Tokaj wine region). This is how expertise in growing vines and making wines arrived in the region. By the 1550’s Tokaj wine had been introduced to international markets, Polish traders swarmed to the region and the Royal Court in Vienna started purchasing Tokaj wines. The first documentary evidence of the word ’aszú’ dates from 1571; it was mentioned in a will of the Garay family.

The Rákóczi-era in the 17th century was the most prosperous period in the history of Tokaj. The princes built numerous cellars and castles, the large estates generated sizeable income by selling their wines, and this is the period when specific statutes for Tokaj-Hegyalja were written and the Parliament sanctioned regulations on harvests involving aszú selection.

From then on, the world’s most prominent figures would fall in love with it and bestow fame upon it. In 1703, Louis XIV hosted a great banquet at Versailles in honor of Francis Rákóczi, the prince of Transylvania exiled to France. The menu renamed the wine from the village of Tokaji ‘Tokay’ – the way it was pronounced in French – and presented it as ‘the king of wines, and the wine of kings’. Louis XV would use the same phrase when serving it to his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Apparently the wine had some interesting virtues because Augustus II, the king of Poland, filled an entire cellar with it in his palace in Dresden to seduce his female conquests.

Lazare de Schwendi reportedly wanted to bring back some vines to Alsace in 1565, but selected the wrong plant, explaining why Alsace Pinot Gris was for many years known as ‘Alsace Tokay’ or ‘Tokay Pinot Gris’ before Hungary’s membership of the European Union forced authorities to sort the situation out. Appellations must be respected and the grape variety used for the Hungarian wine, Furmint, is totally different to Pinot Gris.

The first classification of vineyards was completed in the 18th century, around 1730. This list of vineyards categorized by location and quality was compiled by Mátyás Bél. A royal decree dating from 1737 laid down the rules for Tokaj winemaking, delimited the area and introduced regulations for an appellation control system. Tokaj thus became the first demarcated wine region in the world. In this time the Tokaji wine is already the European aristocrats’ and kings’ precious drink. Its fame is spread over not just by the merchants, but by famous artists and writers of the period (Voltaire, Goethe, Schubert and others).

The phylloxera epidemic reached Tokaj around 1885 and laid waste to 90% of the vineyards. In 1920 with the Treaty of Trianon Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and parts of the Tokaj wine region were annexed by the newly established Czechoslovakia. The third blow came after WW2 when collective farming became the norm under the communist regime and standards dwindled.

The fall of communism triggered radical changes in Tokaj too. Traditional wine categories were reconsidered and refreshed. A new emphasis on dry wines, single vineyard bottlings appeared, and sparkling wines became popular.


Balatonszőlős is located in Veszprém County, on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, north of the Tihany Peninsula. Microclimate of the location making it the perfect candidate for wine production.

Északi part
2 ha

Balatonszőlős is located in Veszprém County, on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, north of the Tihany Peninsula. This small village with a population of six hundred is located in a wonderful natural environment at the gates of the Balaton National Park, in the Szőlős-Pécsely basin. The settlement is bordered on the north by Nagy Gella, on the east by Száka and Torma hills. The picturesque hills are surrounded by forests lined with vineyards and wine cellars. The slopes surrounding the small village offer a fabulous panorama of both Lake Balaton and the Tihany Peninsula.