Laposa Birtok – Apukánk világa (Dad’s World)

It’s mid-May and the sun is shining. We are sitting high up on the slopes of Badacsony’s Öreghegy and below us is the vineyard called ‘God’s slope’ by Zsófi and Bence. Everything is verdantly green, the old-vine Olaszrizling is three weeks ahead of what is normal for this time of the year. Hot basalt, blue Balaton and the high life. It’s Friday before lunch, yet it’s a full house on the Laposa wine terrace and the place is jumping. The almost frosty glasses are filled with the Illatos, fresh Furmints, Rieslings and homemade cordials. People are even sitting in the doorway of the tiny cellar and we can hardly get to Zsófi’s barrels and tanks. While Balaton was quiet during the spring when we visited, it was buzzing up here on the hill.

Zsófi: This year we have to keep up with nature, which has exploded incredibly. On top of that we outgrew our cellar years ago, so a new winery and ageing cellar is being built in the Hableány [a popular former eatery]. I just came from there with Bence. The place is important for us, both professionally and personally: we bought it three years ago when we learnt that our parents had their wedding there and that our grandmother worked there as a cashier on the grocery counter. 

 

Bence: Yes, mum’s family was born and bred in Badacsony, but dad came here as a landscape architect and fell in love with the region, and with mum, of course. Zsófi and I put down our roots here on the hill in an adventurous way. Ever since our childhood summer holidays, it has become our way of life, we couldn’t imagine our life anywhere else. I left the capital in 1999, I studied in Keszthely, while Zsófi got her winemaking degree at the Horticultural University and only followed me here in 2013, which is when she replaced me in the ‘chief winemaker’ position.

 

Zs: Dad made the first Laposa wine as a real weekend winemaker. It was a Riesling from 1993. The real family winery started out as Bazaltbor (Basalt wine). Bence kept calling me back for years, as I studied the winemaking profession abroad. I almost stayed in France, that’s how much I loved Burgundy. A lot of things have changed since then. Today, it’s the two of us who decide about the wines, and then I make them. I’ve got the cellar key and democracy works well on 320 days of the year. There are no excuses during the harvest, you just can’t fool around with white wine. I have to make the best of a small place using two small presses. I’m really looking forward to the new winery because there I’ll have a lot more opportunity to experiment, learn and study. Now, I often make the wines under artisanal conditions.

 

B: Yes, I’ve more or less let the winemaking go by now, I’ve found challenges in other things. I really enjoyed it while I made the wines, but I admire the way Zsófi works, and I try to hold those things together that we mutually create, from one step away. Such a thing is the Hableány, which is being rebuilt, so that beside the restaurant, it can give a new home to our winery as well. Beside it, there is the ‘frissTerasz’, this cellar and the restaurant on the hill. I continue to find a new challenge in Badacsony every day. My friend, László Szeremley, and myself are also restarting the Szent Orbán restaurant. I’m really proud of it: it used to be the best place on the hill and now we are relaunching it. We didn’t rethink it; we only had it repainted and fixed up. We’re bringing its zest back.

 

Zs: Well, as for zest – soon we will ignite another engine. For the season, Lilla, our third sibling will also return. We convinced her to help with marketing, so that we could have more time for the grapes and the wines. We approach the grapes in the most natural way possible, yet with the accuracy of an engineer and with knowledge. If we have to interfere, we do so, but only here and there and with as little as is absolutely necessary. Now, it’s cover crops that excite me the most. I can see huge potential in conditioning the crop and fermentation with cover crops. We are moving away from the medicines, from the curative direction towards the preventive. The aim is to become a healthy boutique winery, the basis of which is provided by our 30 hectares of vineyards. Herbicides have been out of the system for a long time, our soil cultivation is colourful, no matter how hard it is to find people to do it. We select the fruit by hand, because our plots are so steep that no tractor can work on them. There is no recipe for winemaking. Whenever I can, I press in whole bunches, mostly the Riesling, but it also suits the other varieties. I constantly experiment with fermentation as well: sometimes with yeast, sometimes I inoculate the raw material with the must from the pre-harvest grapes. The aim is that all the wines are blended from two to three different wines. That’s the only way the result is colourful and multi-flavoured.

 

B: Mum’s family always had grapes, but this story grew out of dad’s hobby. Today, there are already 40 people working for us, half of them in catering. We think of a system in terms of grape growing, winemaking, catering and the whole of Balaton as a wine region as well. We have great colleagues in Badacsony, and we have great friends around the Balaton with whom it’s a joy to think and work together. This year, the family is also complete, and the only thing we are sorry about is that dad cannot be with us because of his health.

 

Zs: That’s why we made our Apukám Világa (My Dad’s World) wine. And also because when Bence drew up the style of our wines, dad didn't like the wines that much. He is more in favour of the overripe, higher alcohol and more rustic Badacsony style. We aspired to make him appreciate our more modern interpretation, then Bence and I came up with the idea of Apukám Világa for him, which in fact would be more like ‘Our dad’s world’. The aim was a more complex and serious wine made from riper than usual grapes, with barrel fermentation and longer ageing. It’s only the selection of those vineyards that we love: we harvested the Olaszriziling from here from ‘God’s slope’, under the cellar, and from the Kápolna in Csobánc.