It was in 1978.

That was when my grandfather bought the small vineyard that is now the centre of the Nyári Cellar. I know from his stories that those were not the heydays of wine-making. Bland, standard wines were made in state-owned and cooperative cellars, which was a far cry from what we call “wine culture”. Consequently, few people considered grapes and wine as a challenge. My father and grandfather were among those few. My family never pushed me into wine-making; maybe that’s why I was so interested in it already as a child. Then, after a sip of exciting red wine at the age of 15, I decided that I would be a wine-maker.

The harvest used to bring us together. Already in the evening of Friday, a merry crowd of friends and relatives kicked off the weekend harvest party. The best thing about it was that we were together, eating and drinking plentifully, laying the foundations of the next morning’s work.

My cousin and I fought hard over who would get to carry the small baskets; it was a big honour to haul one. We slept under the starry sky on the patio, and talked late into the night. These are memories still to be cherished. Then we grew up, higher than the grapevine, and returned to the hill with friends to celebrate our departing adolescence, happily roasting bacon on open fire, chatting, and sipping wine.

I don’t know when the picturesque vista of the Szent György hill and the warm scent of summer grapes sent a shiver down my spine for the first time. But the feeling has never left me. It was a long way until this land became my home, but now I’m part of it. I have taken over the vineyard from my father.

My father had three siblings. As the vineyard was almost like a fifth child to my grandfather, he was anxious to secure its future before he would die. It was my father who assumed the noble responsibility, reassuring my grandfather that the small estate would be in good hands. That’s how the renovation and upgrade started in 1994, to be completed as late as 2009. Thanks to considerable expenditures and my father’s hard work, the investment started to pay off in the form of rapid development. My father, just as later myself, was completely absorbed in the love of the hill and the vine. Now he can afford to have some rest in the vineyard because, over the past 10 years, I have gradually relieved him of the workload. What he has built here is a legacy. The foundations of the Nyári Cellar had been laid by my grandfather, but my dream could not have been realised without my father’s efforts. I’m deeply grateful to both of them.

At the Nyári Cellar, everybody has their work cut out for them. Father is in charge of sales, my husband Gyula of the cellar works, and I’m responsible for the growing grapes. About the wines itself we always decide together: what procedure fits which wine, whether it should be fermented in tanks or barrels, when to bottle it… Naturally, we lend each other a hand if necessary, so my father helps with the bottling, Gyula sprays the grapes, and I drive a tractor if needed.

The estate has existed in its current form since 2009, but everything has been preserved. The old press-house is still a fairy-tale building that looks like a remnant from the Middle Ages, even though we keep refining it.

The wine tasting room, the door to which is opened by a half-metre-long key, still harbours my grandfather’s wine press. Now it serves as a lean-to for our guests, but it has an emotional dimension to me, similarly to all tools that my grandpa used. These relics are displayed in the large wine tasting room that we built so that our visitors would be comfortable in the cold winter, too.

Minden ilyen ereklye megtekinthető abban a nagy kóstolóteremben is, melyet azért építettünk, hogy ne csak nyáron, hanem télen is komfortosan érezze magát mindenki, aki ellátogat hozzánk.

The new fermentation cellar with wooden barrels was also built in 2009. It allows us to experiment with new ideas. We handle or wines, whether in tanks or barrels, as carefully and professionally as everything else around here.

The minerals in the basalt layers of the Szent György hill are parts of a unique environment that is the essence of what is in our bottles. Still, it’s the grapes that are the key to me. That’s where everything is decided. We protect the grapes on 9.5 hectares now, making sure not to overburden the vines, each of which yields about one bottle of wine.

We had started with three types (Riesling Italian, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris), and later added the local wines Cserszegi Fűszeres, Kéknyelű and Hárslevelű (my favourite), as well as Riesling de Rhin. We also planted Cabernet Franc in 2014, which will yield the first wine in 2017. We have just enough of this plantation to fill a 300-liter wooden barrel.

The wine boxes are another dream come true. They allow us to store the wines selected by our customers in their own “home”, at just the right temperature. It’s good to see the inauguration of such a wine box at an important meeting of family or friends, with one of the nicest vistas of the Szent György hill as the backdrop.

Grape harvest is no longer an easy weekend, and it’s not as much fun as it was when I was 10. The work is much more than a careless game in the vineyard, and I rarely sleep on the patio. Still, when I wake up at half past four every day, I’m grateful for the world that surrounds me here. When I sometimes get tired, I just look at the Badacsony hills from the shade of the wisteria arbour, think of the advice of my grandfather and father, and start doing my job.

Emese Nyári