Interview with Zoltán Günzer, the man who made divine wine from the "Devil's
1993 Zoltán Günzer starts making wine in Villány 1996 Günzer wines are
available at Bortársaság Vineyard area 20 hectares (ha), in Villány and
Nagyharsány Locations Ördögárok, Jammertal, Csillagvölgy, Dobogó and Bocor
vineyards Grape varieties Merlot 3.8 ha, Portugieser 3.8 ha, Kékfrankos 3.5 ha,
Cabernet Franc 2.6 ha, Cabernet Sauvignon 2.2 ha, Kadarka 1.2 ha, Pinot Noir 1.1
ha, Syrah 0.8 ha Annual production 100 000 bottles (2009)
Are you from Villány? I'm actually from Palkonya, which is a lovely, small
village just 6 kilometres from Villány. I went to Villány for kindergarten,
school and even to the cinema, and when I was ten we moved to Oportó street (in
Villány). We live among the vines, and I couldn't move far away from my parents'
house. My mother lives opposite.
How did you get into wine? I'm from an old Swabian German family, our
ancestors were mocked as "rafting Swabians" as some of them arrived by boat on
the Danube. We're hard-working, grape loving people. We always had grapes in
Palkonya and later in Villány as well. My grandmother and grandfather spoke only
Swabian German. When I was with them, I addressed them in Hungarian and they
replied in Swabian German. It was evident where I belonged to and what path was
set out for me. It was my father who bought the first vineyard for me.
How come you opened the winery? I'd done many things until around 1990, when
I got into winemaking in the state-owned Villány winery. I was coming up with
ideas and tried to pass them on to the winemaker back then. I've been making
bottled wines since 1993. In 1995 I met Bortársaság's Attila Tálos and since
1996, I've been selling my wines through Bortársaság.
And your brother is also a winemaker ...
Yes, Tamás entered the market in
2000 with bottled wine. He makes good wine, and luckily, there is room for both
of us to exist on the market. The launch was a bit unfortunate, but now we've
found peace with each other. It's much better this way, and I have someone to
discuss things with ...
How big is your vineyard holding?
hectares, which I think is about the upper limit for a family-run winery. I
don't want to grow larger than this, since this is the size at which you can
still know everything about the grapes and the wines. When I go below the house
to the cellar, I know every barrel and bottle, and what's in them. I can say:
we're Swabian, if I do it, then I'm only going to do it well.
What does that mean translated into wines?
That's a very easy question
to answer. With the increase of eight hectares our total output in fact dropped
20 per cent. Of course, it wasn't just due to our actions, since Villány was
also beaten by the ice. The real reason is the production limitation required
for consistency. You can't make mistakes with wine. For the same money, you
should offer better, more concentrated wines from lower yields. That's the
direction of development and growth.
And what about Ördögárok (Devil's ditch)?
This is the most important
vineyard. In the place of a 50-year old forest, one million cubic metres of
ground was shifted. Paths and channels for water were cut into it. We replanted
it, believed in it and it repaid our faith in it. It's a beautiful place with an
enormous possibility, and what comes out of it depends entirely on us.
Is everything in place?
Everything. Villány brings everything together. I
don't think there is another wine region like this. We made Ördögárok together,
we taste together, we ski and ride motorbikes together, and think about the
future of the wine region together. There's a lot more between the winemakers
here than a simple working relationship.
Franc or Sauvignon?
Villány is about Cabernet Franc, but Merlot is needed
next to it. Together they can express the best of the region. In addition, the
region is also more than capable of Kékfrankos and Kadarka with good
concentration and delicious fruitiness when yields are strictly limited to 1Kg
per vine. Still, Cabernet Franc is the first for everyone. It will be the
What's your outlook for the future?
I'm positive now, we are fine with the
grapes, wine, name and finally with the labels and appearance. We can't sit back
and take it easy, we can't make mistakes, but as far as I can see the picture
has come together. We are at a point from where we should further develop. It's
an enormous challenge.