Two young men, Tom Howells and Péter Molnár, launch the Budapest Wine Society, which becomes a popular meeting place for Hungarian and Budapest-based foreign wine lovers. In September, 26-year-old Attila Tálos joins them. Péter draws up the first logo next to a glass of spritzer and the handcrafted wines of two winemakers, Attila Gere and József Bock, appear in the selection. Szepsy is also sold but due to the strictness of the paperwork, only from under the counter.
Attila buys the company's first car, a 26-year-old, green, Renault 4. The delivery of wines to be tasted at events starts: with the Renault when it starts, failing that by City Taxi when the Renault is stuck in the garage. The first employee joins the team: the delivery man, who works one day a week. On finishing his studies at Beijing University, Attila's brother Gábor Tálos returns from China in the autumn, and a university student, András Kató, also lends a hand. The list of the winemakers and the interest expressed on behalf of the customers grow continuously. Another Gábor gets into the picture. He is Gábor Both. He carves stone at Balaton and preaches wine.
The first wine shop opens at Batthyány utca. As an IT explosion, Gábor connects the company's two Macs with a telephone cable. Club members can already buy the wines for a case price. The first Society Reserve label is stuck onto Ottó Légli's 1994 Pinot Blanc. A graphic designer prepares the new image, which includes the new name: Budapest Bortársaság. Náncsi Néni and Café Kör join us as our first gastronomy partners, who can now order the wines of Zoltán Heimann and Etyeki Kúria.
László Alkonyi's magazine, Borbarát (Wine Friend), is published, which partly plays a role in Attila making a deal with a tiny, hobby winemaker from Badacsony. Huba Szeremley steps on board with 10 hectolitres of wine. By the end of the year, 10,000 bottles are sold. On top of that, two containers of Tokaj sail off towards the shores of China, to Hangzhou. Since then everything has arrived.
Pre-ordering for the first vintage of Kopár starts for club members, but the vintage is not only especially fantastic in Villány. Dozens of winemakers appear on the price list. This is the heyday of wine tours of the countryside in which mainly foreigners take part. They name Imre Györgykovács the "Prince of Somló" and Tamás Dúzsi the "King of Rosé".
The first branch of Cora in Hungary contacts Bortársaság. They'd like to buy wine, too. The number of excellent Hungarian wines grows as the space in the storage room gets tighter and tighter.
In the wine shop Count István Széchenyi's portrait looks down at us from the new 5,000 Forint bill. The first wine shops beyond Budapest open in Kecskemét and Győr, and Budapest Bortársaság becomes more and more Bortársaság. Attila Homonna appears in the team, first as a wine shop assistant, later as a winemaker.
The end of the world doesn't happen but the Bortársaság website and web shop, www.bortarsasag.hustarts operating. Gábor Csorba joins the team as a student worker and the wines quietly outgrow the Batthyány street shop. The storage moves out to Kőérbreki út but by the end of the year, it also fills up. 600,000 bottles are sold and tasting the new wines at the end of the year, it turns out that year 2000 was an earth-shattering year.
The wines of János Konyári and his son, Dániel, appear in the Bortársaság selection as the Loliense story gets underway. Wine becomes subject to excise tax, so a tax stamp is put on the bottles and stays there for almost a year.
The tax stamp is taken off the bottles. On the other hand, Tokaj-Hegyalja gets on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Gyuri Lőrincz' wines enter the selection, firstly as Lőrincz Pince, then later as St. Andrea.
The second wine shop opens on Ráday utca. Krisztián Farkas makes it into the team as a representative - he is now head of the restaurant sales team - as Csanád Dely takes charge of finances - now he is the financial director. An absolutely beautiful year, at the end of which Pannonhalma also flies under the flag. We learn a new expression: the 2003 Merengő becomes Bikavér Superior and those who taste it, know why. Konyári's Sessio will not be forgotten either.
Hungary becomes member of the EU, but we still have to pay customs tax on Clicquot, Torres and Antinori wines at the border. The online wine shop is renewed and the first monthly publication comes out and is read by 12,000 customers. The words "Budapest" and "Wine Society" are dropped from the new orange logo, but the logo makes it onto the shop front of three new shops: Zoltán Palotai and his team get on board with two new shops in Budagyöngye and Rózsakert. A new wine shop shows the direction in Debrecen, too
The first Gellavilla is made, more than 1.5 million bottles of wine are sold during the year and Kékoportó becomes Portugieser. New World wines arrive one after the other and most of them are sealed with screw tops. On the local scene, besides several fashionably Latin-named big wines, a "Greek word (Görög szó)" from Tamás Dúzsi is positioned on the shelves. Bortársaság Boltok Kft is set up and runs seven shops at the time. Budapest Bortársaság serves restaurant buyers and retail partners.
The warm autumn does not do any favours for politics, but it does so for the grapes. Another small but promising winery enriches the assortment of Bortársaság as Béla és Bandi, replete with the trademark tractor label, makes it onto the shelves. A wine shop is opened in Szeged. Life is bubbling, big wines are born. The St. Andrea winery and the Weningers throw themselves into biodynamic cultivation. The first "100 point" wine is made in Tokaj.
Hungarian band Bëlga sings about Attila Németh and the Németh Chardonnay from Mátraalja, we can drive on a motorway almost as far as Tokaj, and luckily no power station is being built among the vineyards. After the tractor, a bicycle can be seen on a label as the Másfél range is born. Roli Radványi opens Klassz restaurant on Andrássy út with a counter made out of wine cases. Bortársaság sells wine at the back of the restaurant.
This year is a second longer than the others. Wines from a big new Villány cellar, Sauska, and a few smaller, promising wineries, like miklóscsabi and Bolyki, appear at Bortársaság. The fifth wine shop, Lánchíd, is opened in Budapest, and the shops are given the inscription of "Bor" i.e. wine, as part of the new image. The logo sends a simpler, clearer message with the first three letters of the name emphasized in the foreground.
Great happiness at the Debrecen wine shop as the city's football team gets into the Champion's League. At the same time, we learn that Alvaro Palacios and Telmo Rodriguez are not Spanish footballers. With the introduction of their wines, we start researching exciting, dynamic, professional and great future-hopeful wineries from abroad that are unknown to Hungary. Of course, there's also a lot going on at home. Káli Kövek delivers almonds at the beginning, later excellent Rizlings as well.
It rains a lot. We keep our fingers crossed for the grapes to ripen. The first Hungarian restaurant, Costes, receives a Michelin star, and not much later Onyx is awarded one, too. In the meantime, important small wineries make it into the selection with the first-wines from Miklós Tamás Rácz from Villány and Frigyes Bott from Muzsla appearing. At the first "Wine Spring" event known as "BOR tavasz", restaurant buyers can taste their wines as well at the Kőérberki út warehouse. Our 12th shop opens, next to Parliament in the place of the former Agricultural Book Shop. At the end of the year, the enthusiastic team of Bortársaság blends Hamvas pálinka just like a perfume, and what we learn from the 2010 wines is that there is no such a thing as a good vintage or a bad vintage.
The Bortársaság logo saying "Everything is fine, the wine is delicious" can be read on a dozen cars in Budapest and around the country. Bortársaság\'s turnover is 2.5 million bottles and it employs 55 people.
Winemakers around the country do a collective rain dance, yet the great amount of the 2010 rain still nurtures the grapes nicely. The result is a vintage that we're going to talk about for many years to come.
We won’t open any more shops, or so we decide at the beginning of the year. However, in April we still have a go at the Árkád shopping mall at Örs vezér tér. The Bortársaság Club grows with many new faces, which is partly the result of us tackling the changes we’ve been planning for years. We make our club membership system more transparent and simpler while reducing the entry limit and encouraging regular shopping. In the spring we move to Balatonfüred and keep our wine shop next to Road 71 open until the autumn. At the end of the year, along with a new wine shop next to the market in the Hegyvidék shopping mall, another one is opened at MOM Park. Out of our autumn trip to Tokaj new friendships and a vintage report are born, we shoot our first short films and with our new website, we realise that we are still a lot more familiar with wine than with filmmaking and the internet. After a break of 13 years, the wines of Zoltán Demeter return to our selection.
Our selection is enriched by more and more wineries, our team is continuously growing. We complete the Tokaj report again and the new vintage is almost perfect. This time we strictly don’t open new wine shops, only move – in the Árkád shopping mall from one level to another.
The easiest way to get into the Lánchíd shop is via the Danube - as the street is re-laid along with the renovation of the Várkert Bazár. In the spring, we open the first Bortársaság wine bar, called Tábor, at Millenáris. Summer is skipped this year, it just rains, rains and rains - it is even too much for the grapes. The quantity of wine is minimal but it’s delicious anyway. In September, we run around Balaton, in less than 20 hours.
We kick off the new year with lots of plans. We redesign the upper floor of the Kossuth tér shop with the spooraarchitects team, and in March we launch the Borsuli wine school where people can also learn, not just drink. Tastings are held by our colleagues in an informal manner and we offer subjects from basic tasting skills to the introduction of the world’s wine regions, with great success: by the end of August we clink glasses with the 1,000th guest. Two hundred kilometres in 18 and half an hours: in September, we run around Lake Fertő. We open three new wine shops as new colleagues join the familiar faces: in Allee and Hüvösvölgy in Budapest and in December in Pécs, on Széchenyi tér, where we toast the opening with our Villány and Szekszárd winemakers.
Exciting and razor sharp Rieslings arrive from four German wine regions in the spring: we learn what VDP is and also how it’s possible to harvest slopes with a 70° gradient. Even though it’s only 5x5x5 metres, we fall in love with our new wine shop on Pozsonyi út. We get soaking wet again at this year’s Gourmet Festival, but we stay at Millenáris for the whole summer: the Tábor (‘Camp’) is back – where when we are not tasting or watching films – we cheer together at the UEFA European Championship. In the meantime, we spend a few days in Tokaj, and our fifth annual vintage report – featuring the wines of a lovable and outstanding vintage from 17 wineries – comes together. At the beginning of the year, we start something completely new: making wine in Villány together with Gábor Kiss. We prune, select the buds, but then in the spring (just like with so many other people in the country) – we get hit by frost. But we don’t give up: we continue with the vineyard work on a new plot. In September, Borsuli (Wine School) starts in all our shops outside Budapest, and we run around Balaton – again. Attila Tálos appears on the cover of Forbes magazine’s October issue, and we are back in the vineyard in Villány: harvest has arrived and the result is 1,300 litres of our own Merlot and 300 litres of Cabernet Franc and we can hardly wait for bottling.
It’s a long list of how many new things arrive this year: in January our first wine from the Languedoc, from the Moulin de Gassac winery arrives, then in April the first South African wines and traditional method sparkling wines hit the shelves.
In June, the Carassia winery from Kárásztelek makes its debut, then in the autumn, so do the wines of the Zvonko Bogdan winery from Novi Sad.
In May, we are hit by a great loss when János Konyári passes away.
In the summer, Attila Tálos opens his pub in Balatonszőlős, our colleague Marci Nyerges climbs the Weissmies in the company of a Szepsy Szamorodni. We get electric cars, our first Merlot with Gábor Kiss is bottled and it runs out within three weeks. We enthusiastically throw ourselves into this year’s ‘our own wine’ project when we work in Oremus’ Petrács vineyard. We continue the ‘Egytőről’ (from one stem) wine bar collaboration, after the introduction of the Sebestyén Kékfrankos in the spring, then we start the new vintage with the Pálffys.
A smaller miracle happens as the sun shines throughout the Gourmet Festival.
+37%: the size our Ráday utca shows grows by after the renovation of the beginning of the year. Our second shop in Győr opens in the Árkád shopping mall and the wine shop of Klassz gets a separate entrance.
We start a new series on Instagram #hazaipalya (home field) on which winemakers post in weekly turns – first István Balassa and László Szilágyi.
In the autumn, our sixth annual Tokaj overview comes out, as well as the Hungarian version of the WineFolly book.
In the meantime, from the windows of our Lánchíd shop we can see the 2017 FINA World Championship, at other times corkscrew manoeuvring planes, yet at other times, the Chinese delegation, and there are also times when we can’t see anything because the windows are boarded up.