You’re standing at the edge of a vast vineyard. Wooden posts mark the beginning of long lines of vines. Bright green leaves sprout from the vines’ arms. Grapes, not yet mature, dangle in clusters. Bumblebees hover beside the fruit as if on patrol. The vineyard extends for acres and acres. It only ends when it reaches the limestone hills in the distance. Now that you’ve seen where the grapes grow, it’s time to drink some wine.
This beautiful countryside probably isn’t where you think it is. It’s not in Napa or Sonoma, Mendoza or Stellenbosch. It’s in Europe, but it’s far from Bordeaux and Tuscany. It’s actually in Hungary. Villány, near the Croatian border, is the southernmost wine region in Hungary. It’s surrounded by the Great Hungarian Plain, the Baranya Hills, and the Villány Mountains. Traditional Swabian whitewashed cellars stand along the edge of the vineyards. While the area’s warm climate—warm enough to be called the Mediterranean of Hungary—produces full-bodied red wines.
You’re staying right beside the vines at the Crocus Gere Bor Hotel. The Gere family has been producing wine for seven generations. Determined to bring wine tourism to Hungary, they opened a pension in 1991. The vineyards, the cellars, and the hotel have expanded many times over without, remarkably, losing the feel of a traditional village.
Your room has brick walls, wooden beams, and burnt-orange accents. From the balcony, you can see the pool and the sunbathing terrace off to one side; the seemingly endless rows of vines are on the other. The spa has a Finnish sauna, a steam bath, and grape-and-wine-based treatments. You’re looking forward to the wine-and-aroma bath you booked tomorrow. Plus Mandula feels like a living room with more brick walls, a fireplace, and leather chairs. The restaurant serves rustic dishes. The parlor has cigars and chess tables. While the wine bar offers glasses of your favorite wines from the vineyard.
But first, you have to figure out what your favorite wines are back at the tasting. It starts with a sparkling white wine that’s fresh and fruity, and a silky rosé made with Kékfrankos grapes. A spicy Merlot is the first red wine you’re offered. It’s followed by a balanced red blend and an aged, smokey Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique. The tasting ends with the barrel-aged Kopár. It’s the perfect combination of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s exactly what you were hoping to drink with dinner tonight.