Despite being Hungary’s smallest wine region—or perhaps because of it—Somló is talked about in a reverent, almost mythological way. It’s praised in Hungarian literature, and Maria Theresa and Queen Victoria were said to have been big fans of the wines from this pretty hill that is an extinct volcano. Juhfark, one of the favored grapes here, translates as “sheep’s tail” and is called the “wedding night wine.” If it’s drunk on your wedding night, legend has it that a baby boy will soon be born. Somló is the place to visit for wine lovers who are seeking something truly new and different. The entire region consists of one long-extinct volcanic hill, located north of Lake Balaton. Most of the great wines produced in Somló are made in tiny quantities, and they are hardly exported. Once you try a wine from Somló, the saying goes, you will forever recognize the taste of them. They tend to be elegant, high in alcohol, very acidic, and have lots of volcanic minerality. They are wines meant to be aged. This is a white wine region, which produces wines which can hold their own against the dry wines from Tokaj (which they are often compared to). It’s a beautiful region—a secret garden full of untouched vineyards and crumbling old houses—which offers lots of rewards, and some new tastes, for those who are willing to step off-the-beaten path.
• Tasting unusual wines (which have even been called “weird”), which you will almost surely taste nowhere else in the world. The main varietals produced here are furmint, welschriesling, hárslevelu, and juhfark. We are pretty sure that they will all blow you away.
• Somló is also a great place for nature-lovers, and the volcanic rock formations house many rare plant and animal species. There’s a 3-kilometer walking trail which winds through the hill, passing through many of the historic sights in this protected natural area.
• There is a fortified castle perched on top of Somló hill, and there are three Medieval churches on the hill.
• Visiting Somló is a distinctly un-touristy experience. The serene hill is practically un-touched by tourism, and full of small vineyards which produce amazing wines.
Somló is about 170 kilometers southwest of Budapest (about a 2-hour drive).