Gabriella Gónusz has spent more than twenty years in sales and marketing of different food products and services with an emphasis on wine. She was an export sales manager for a top winery in Hungary. Now she is a sommelier and co-owner of Wine a’More Travel Agency. Gabriella’s talk at the International Wine Tourism Conference is titled: “The Country Of Diversity – Hungary.” The presentation will explore the different wine regions and diversity of varietal grapes as well as different wine styles that can be experienced in Hungry.
As one of the speakers at the upcoming IWINETC in Reims, France I had a chance to interview Gabriella about her experiences and presentation.
How did your wine journey begin?
I am a very lucky person; I have always dealt with exciting, enjoyable and prestigious products and services. Coffee, chocolate and now wine. I met “wine” more than a decade ago. I had a very good friend who took me to visit some wineries in Tokaj, Szekszárd and Balatonfüred. Mr. Kovács, Vida and Figula were the first winemakers I met and I was immediately enchanted by the personalities, their approach to life, their humanity and enthusiasm. My respect towards the commitment and passion of the winemakers haven’t changed.
Can you provide us some statistics about Hungary’s wine industry?
- Vineyards: 63.000 hectares (2013. Statista.com)
- Percentage of world wine production: 187,400 thousand litres, under 1%
- Wine production (2013): 2,6 hectoliter
- Wine regions: 22
- Number of wineries: over 400
- Wineries open to public throughout the year: 150-200
- Wine consumption: 20,18 litres/capita
Main grape varieties:
Besides furmint and olaszrizling, cserszegi fűszeres, leányka, hárslevelű kéknyelű are the most widespread traditional white grape varieties. Most of the wineries also make wines from international grapes like chardonnay, tramini, sauvignon blanc and some muscat types. This is true for the red grape varietals, as well. kadarka and kékfrankos have Hungarian roots, but merlot, the cabernets, pinot noir and portugieser are also doing very well in some terroirs.
What are some of the unique wine experiences that tourists will discover in Hungary that they won’t find in other parts of the world?
We are famous for our hospitality. We welcome the interested tourists with fantastic wines, excellent food, vibrant wine life and mesmerizing landscape. There are more than 20 wine festivals throughout the year and country. Wine tourism is combined with music, culture and sport activities. Almost every cellar is open for wine tourists during Whit weekend, wine shows are held around lake Balaton, jazz evenings are held in Pannonhalma etc.
Since Hungary has more than 150 thermal springs and bathes, almost each wine escape can be combined with spa experience. Hungarian gastronomy plays an important role in the culinary world. We are going to host next year’s Bocuse d’Or final. Besides the outstanding restaurants, numerous gastronomy festivals are organised, as well. The assortment of food courses and pairings are exceptionally rich. Traditional food is offered in modern cloths.
There is a huge selection of grape and wine varieties, whites and reds, autochthon and international, fresh or aged, still or sparkling, dry or sweet is available for the wine lovers. We are the biggest rosé wine consumers per capita and we drink “Fröccs” (white or rosé wine with soda water) and more and more sparkling wines.
What are your thoughts about Hungary possibly hosting IWINETC in the future?
We would highly welcome an event like that in Hungary. We have the resources, the hotels, conference and meeting rooms, event organizers, guides, interpreters etc. Regarding the location of the conference, here are more options to choose from. Hungary and especially our capital Budapest is a very popular travel destination. Hungarian wines gain more and more reputation in the world, participate in different wine shows and tasting events, win decent prizes and attract the gourmet wine travelers.
Besides Budapest, there are some wine regions that can host the event and prove the diversity of Hungarian land and wine. If the basis is Budapest, there are more wine regions to be reached within one hour drive for winery visits and tastings. Wine tourism a booming industry, wineries are happy to welcome guests, they have nice tasting rooms, vineyard,- and cellar visit programs, restaurants or smaller inns offering local farm products and English/German/French speaking personnel. Wine a’More has the necessary resources to be the co-ordinator of such an event. Since the IWINETC conference is a venue of larger scale, tourism and wine marketing institutions should also be contacted.
What do you hope to gain from attending the International Wine Tourism Conference?
We would like to strengthen the image of Hungarian wines and wine regions; show the opportunities in wine and culinary tourism. We hope to attract partners, agents and tour operators and start co-operating with them. Since we are a new player in the wine tourism business, the conference talks will be quite interesting for us. We are looking forward to getting new information, meeting colleagues during the conference, and taking part in the workshop. The Champagne region is a potential wine tour destination for wine tourist from Hungary and the neighboring countries. We are also very curious about the offers of the region.
You can learn more about Hungary, its wines and wine regions at Gabriella Gónusz’s talk at the International Wine Tourism Conference.
Article: Terry Sullivan, CWAS WineTrailTraveler.com