These two southern regions of Hungary are sometimes referred to as the “Mediterranean of Hungary” because their warmer climates allow them to produce the country’s most full-bodied red wines. Villány is a charming village with a strong Swabian influence, evident in its row of traditional whitewashed cellars, which are very much still in use. The region comprises 11 villages which are best known for their reds (especially cabernet franc, which is outstanding here) though in one section of the region, Siklós, white grapes also grow. In Villány many winemakers operate bed and breakfasts and restaurants, making it a great place to spend a night or two. Meanwhile, Szekszárd makes some of Hungary’s most exciting wines, though it lacks the picturesque cellar rows and village center that Villány has. Though the “Bull’s Blood” from Eger gets most of the fame, this blend is also made in Szekszárd (though in different proportions). In Szekszárd kadarka, a grape often compared to pinot noir, is the varietal to taste plenty of. If you are a red wine drinker, then these are the Hungarian regions for you to visit.
• Visiting the unique Swabian-style cellar rows in Villány, Villánykövesd, and Palkonya. In Villány, nearly all of the cellars are still in use and very-much frequented by the locals. Here you can sample delicious home-cooked dishes.
• Tasting Bull’s Blood and kadarka in Szekszárd, and in Villány, tasting cabernet franc (the super-star of the region), cabernet sauvignon, portugieser, and whites such as olaszrizling, hárslevelű, and chardonnay.
• In Siklós, 15 kilometers west of Villány, there’s a medieval fortress reachable by a drawbridge, which is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque as a result of rebuilding over the centuries
• Máriagyűd, 15 kilometers west of Villány, is an important Catholic pilgrimage site, with dozens of annual feasts devoted to Mary.
• Walking in the vineyards to take in the gorgous views of the slopes.
• Pécs is about 60 kilometers northwest of Villány, and is a must-see town if there’s time.
• A region’s wine is closely intertwined with its food, and a tour in this region could include meals at wineries or winery-owned restaurants.
Szekszárd is 160 kilometers south of Budapest (about a 1.5 hour drive). Villány is 220 kilometers south of Budapest (about a 2.5 hour drive). It is possible to make a stop in Szekszárd for a winery visit and tasting en-route to Villány.
Year-round. Autumn and winter are especially lovely times to visit Villány. Keep in mind that during Villány’s busiest times—Pentecost weekend, the European Convivial Wine Song Festival in September, and the Bacchus Days in October—accommodation (if needed) will need to be booked well in advance, and the village will be very crowded.
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