I was born in Tokaj and grew up there. There were practically no families there without vines, and this was the case with us too. Although my journey initially took me to a completely different areas, and far from home, my love of wine has always remained. My work gave me the opportunity to taste some of the best wines in the world, which has shaped my wine style. In 2014, when my parents wanted to sell our 0.3 hectares of vines, my husband and I decided to keep them and founded the SanzonTokaj boutique winery in Erdőbénye in the heart of the Tokaj region. Our first success came quickly, our 2015 single vineyard Furmint won a gold medal at the IWC, which gave us a big boost. The momentum is still there, but we are building things up deliberately, consciously, and in small steps.
Tokaj in northern Hungary was formed by volcanic activity some 15 million years ago, and we have been drinking its juice ever since. For us, it is the most beautiful place in the world, a true paradise, with treasures both above and below the surface. There are three main soil types that should be highlighted among the treasures lying below the surface, but as you walk through the vineyards, looking at the ground in front of your feet, you soon notice that it varies from metre to metre: there is rhyolite, andesite, zeolite, quartzite, limestone,nyirok clay soil and loess. While above the surface, it is the special microclimate and the resulting botrytis, which causes the grapes to shrivel and concentrate. The greatest treasure is to combine these qualities, which reflect the thousand faces of Tokaj, in the bottle each year.
Viticulture has been practised in Tokaj since the 13th century, while in the 18th century, the land was evaluated according to its location and soil, i.e. each area was divided into vineyards and classified. There were even times when Tokaj was held in mystical reverence and its wines sought all over Europe for their healing powers. These wines featured regularly on the tables of Frederick the Great of Prussia, King Georg V of England and Pope Pius I.
Our winery is based in Erdőbénye. Located in the geometrical centre of the Tokaj wine region, it is one of the region’s oldest settlements, a former farming town. It was considered a Hungarian village from the time of the conquest, with its first written mention dating back to 1404. The village was once famous, primarily for its coopers, who supplied Tokaj winemakers and merchants with masterfully made barrels. We currently cultivate 4 hectares, in 5 vineyards (Palánkos, Rány, Szentvér, Serédi, Nyakvágó) located on the hillsides between Erdőbénye and Tolcsva. Despite the small distance between them, our vineyards boast very varied aspects and soils, which enables us to make the best of, or even compensate, for each vintage’s characteristics.
Our vineyards are planted to 2 ha Furmint, 1.5 ha Hárslevelű and 0.5 ha Muscat, which we have been cultivating organically since 2015.
Rány Vineyard: Olaszliszka
Rány is one of the oldest vineyards in the Tokaj wine region. There were already vines here in the Árpád era. It was mentioned for the first time in written documents connected to the 1248 border invasion of the Sárospatak manor, although under a different name at first. It boasts one of the most characteristic and unique terroirs in Tokaj, at least in our opinion… Thanks to its old vines and characteristic soil, it is the birthplace of volcanic, concentrated, layered dry white wines with great ageing potential, which are destined for the winery’s top wine, the Rány Furmint.
Rhyolitic, very stony, eroded ground with only patches of topsoil
Size of the area: 0.7 ha
Rány vineyard: Vámosújfalú
Of the vineyards surrounding the hill, these are planted on the most easterly slopes, with a significant difference in elevation between the bottom and top of the vineyard. The soil structure also changes accordingly, from dense, heavy soil at the bottom to thick layers of stones at the top. Its eastern exposure ensures more consistent ripening even in hot, dry years. An excellent basis for producing very elegant, powerful, dry Hárslevelű.
While the Furmint vines we also have here are the perfect complement to those planted on the hilltop, enabling us to produce well-balanced Rány wine even in extreme vintages.
Upper part – rhyolitic, very stony, eroded ground with only patches of topsoil. The lower part of the vineyard comprises thick nyirok clay soil, which compensates well for the lack of water in the upper part in dry years. 0.8 ha
The Palánkos vineyard, on the edge of Erdőbénye, offers a wonderful view of the village and the surrounding vineyards. It is on steep ground, so the topsoil is being washed away by erosion. Thanks to its eastern exposure, it produces drier, more elegant wines. It has provided the basis for our Classic Furmint since 2018.
The upper part is extremely stony, with rhyolite rubble mixed with heavier forest soil in the lower part of the vineyard. 1 ha
This is one of our most newly acquired areas, and its grapes enrich the winery’s range. Curiosity about what could be done with Muscat attracted us to the Szentvér vineyard. The grapes from here have vibrant acidity and are especially juicy and fruity, making them a good basis for our Fleur wine.
Heavy nyirok clay with rhyolite tufa, 0.5ha
Rock: heavy nyirok clay with rhyolite tufa
Size of area: 1 ha
This is the 0.3 hectares of land I inherited from my parents, from which the estate’s development began. That’s why the Nyakvagó vineyard will always be a place close to our hearts. It’s a good, reliable vineyard, where botrytis develops easily and well thanks to its low altitude. It produces fruity wine with fresh, lively acidity, so it has been the base for SanzonHabzó since 2014.
Rhyolite-based, but dense, heavy soil with good water retention
Size of area: 0.3ha
“Penicillin may cure you, but only wine makes you happy.”
– Alexander Fleming
We practise organic farming so that we can maintain the diversity of our vineyards. Our vineyards are home to many species, from insects to various crops, birds, lizards and rodents to large mammals.
We do not use absorbent, synthetic plant protection chemicals or herbicides, but protect our vines using natural resources, such as introducing predatory mites or spraying with a nettle preparation.
We do not use machinery in the vineyards, so there is less risk of soil compaction and it becoming airless, and we take especial care to maintain soil fertility and diversity.
We have introduced cover crops, which are fragrant and colourful when in bloom, attracting insects and bees, which play a very important role in pollination.
The cover crop ideally speeds up the penetration of rainwater, which in turn promotes vine root growth, while competition for water does not occur in the same place, with the cover crop helping to concentrate vine root growth in the area below the row.
We have thus far used the living row cover seed mixture from the Hungarian Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) in two of our vineyards. In our Rány Furmint vineyard, which is very stony, where the water practically runs straight through it; we hope that the cover crop will trap it and retain some moisture in the upper layers. The Nyakvágó vineyard is the opposite of the former, as it has very heavy, clayey soil, like a sponge, meaning it holds the water. Here the aim is to improve the soil structure, so that moisture can reach the roots of the vines more easily, as well as to stimulate the growth of the vine roots by them having to compete for water.