Eastern Europe-bound

The day is finally (well, almost) here – I am going on vacation for the first time in a year, and not only that, but I am traveling to Hungary with my parents for the first time in 12 years. Although I’ve been to my homeland several times in the past decade, it’s never been quite the whirlwind tour with the family that this promises to be. I can’t think of a more ideal vacation – I’ll get to spend quality time with my parents and all my relatives, meet up with old friends in Budapest, reconnect with some of my favorite places in the world, and drink LOTS of wine. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my dad happens to be from the most famous (and the world’s first officially designated!) wine region in Hungary – Tokaj – home of the “Wine of Kings and King of Wines,” the dessert wine Aszu.
I’ve already set up tours/tastings at the Oremus and Disznoko wineries (both of which are foreign-owned), and I’m hoping we can also get into some smaller, locally-owned wineries where we can have a more personal experience. My relatives have also been very gracious and have offered to take us to wineries in other parts of the country as well, particularly around Lake Balaton (Badacsony). And of course, let’s not forget the wine bars in Budapest!
The Austrian portion of my trip will also be pretty wine-centric. In Vienna, I plan to go to Palais Coburg, which received Wine Spectator‘s highest honor – the Grand Award – for the quality and breadth of its wine list. I will spend a few days in the village of Durnstein in the Wachau region, which is home to several famous wineries producing mainly Gruner Veltliner, including Emmerich Knoll. I’ll be there during harvest, which may sound ideal, but it might mean that the winery staff will be in the vineyard most of the time. How dare they not stay focused on self-important American tourists?? 😉 The town, situated on the banks of the Danube, is apparently quite beautiful and of great historical significance, primarily because Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in its castle.
I can’t wait to get there – more detailed reports to come! (Check out a recent New York Times article for a fabulously-written piece on Tokaj, and the WaPo covered Austrian wines earlier this summer.)

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