In a nutshell

The Tokaj wine region, officially called Tokaj-Hegyalja, was declared a world heritage site in 2002 and as producer of the world’s oldest botrytized wines it has a number of unparalleled assets:

– incomparable soil and microclimate: clay or loess soil on top off volcanic subsoil, a microclimate determined by the sunny, south-facing slopes and the proximity of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers, conducive to the proliferation of Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot) and the subsequent shriveling of the grapes (that leads to the development of aszú);

– indigenous grape varieties that have been cultivated here for centuries: Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Sárga Muskotály;

– a vast network of cellars carved out of solid rock, providing a constant temperature of around 12°C and high humidity of around 95% that is ideal for the aging of the wines;

– a well-regulated appellation system, established many years ahead of its time:

1571: first known mention of Aszú wines

1630: Máté Sepsy Laczkó describes the aszú vinification method that is still used today

1655: the manual selection of the botrytized "aszú" berries is regulated

1737: the winegrowing area is delimited by royal decree

1772: the world’s first vineyard classification system is born in Tokaj-Hegyalja

– the knowledge of people brought up in winegrowing traditions now dates back many generations.

Name usage

TOKAJ is the name of the main town lying at the confluence of the Tisza and the Bodrog, lending its name to the region, also referred to as TOKAJ-HEGYALJA. TOKAJI is the adjective (adjectives being formed in Hungarian by the addition of –i to a substantive: Tokaj>>tokaji, Eger>>egri, etc.), normally used to describe the wine as in “Tokaji aszú”. TOKAY is an alternative, but obsolete, spelling.

Major facts and figures:

Wine growing area: 5967 ha
Average property size: 0.57 ha/property
Villages belonging to the region: 27
Tokaj as a proportion of overall Hungarian vineyard area: 6.3%
Number of registered producers: 14575
Number of wineries: 588
Number of wineries producing the full range of Tokaj wines (aszús, etc.): 48
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