Photo credit: Szentpéteri Borpince (Facebook page)
The Kunság PDO is Hungary’s largest wine producing area, with 23,300 hectares of vineyards. It lies in the larger Duna-Tisza közé PGI, which is the area lying between Hungary’s two great rivers— the Danube and the Tisza. This PGI is part of Hungary’s Great Plain (an area occupying nearly half of the country), the area is the country’s largest wine producing region, growing about half of Hungary’s grapes and encompassing several different PGIs and PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin area). The land here is flat. It has mostly sandy soil due mainly to movement of the Danube River, which has left sandy deposits between the two rivers for thousands of years. Vineyards in the sand help prevent the spread of quicksand, and vines (unlike other crops) are able to thrive in this type of soil.
The sandy soil also heats up quickly, helping the grapes ripen. Another benefit of the sandy terroir is that there is no phylloxera (it can’t survive in the sand), so winegrowers don’t have to graft onto American rootstocks, making planting new vineyards more affordable. The region is most known for the production of light, aromatic, and fruity wines which are made to be easy-going and immediately consumed (rather than aged). Grape varieties found in this region include lots of local and little-know types (including some only found here) like Bianca, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Aletta, Zalagyöngye, Kunleány, Kövidinka, and Arany Sárfehér. International varieties like Riesling, Zweigelt, and Kékfrankos are also grown. Though the area has long been known for its large wineries producing mass-market wines, there are some interesting winemakers to look out for lately (such as Szentpéteri Winery)