The two young winemakers of the Archbishop of Veszprém Winery and Bujdosó Winery are expecting an excellent vintage

The rainy weather has put them to the test, but this year’s grape harvest is expected to be good

The two young winemakers of the Balaton wine region, Antal Benesch, who has been the head winemaker of the Archbishop of  Veszprém Winery since 2020, and Ferenc Bujdosó, a member of the third generation of the Bujdosó family, who cultivates 90 hectares of vines and runs a successful winery, are expecting an excellent vintage. They both believe in combining tradition and innovation, and one of the aims of the head winemaker at Archbishop of  Veszprém Winery is to expand their range with new wines – all of the same high quality as the current range.

“The year 2023 didn’t start off easy, with very wet and muggy weather, which meant we had to be very careful to prevent fungal diseases in the grapes. I think that we did everything to protect the vineyard, our white grapes have been able to aromatise very well, so if the autumn is sunny, we can expect a good harvest this year,” said Antal Benesch, head winemaker of the Archbishop of  Veszprém Winery. The archdiocese – and its predecessor, the Veszprém Bishopric – has been involved in viticulture and winemaking since 1277, and today they grow grapes on two of their own vineyard, Felsőörs in the Balatonfüred-Csopak wine region and Mindszentkalla in the Káli basin.

Ferenc Bujdosó, winemaker at Bujdosó Winery in Balatonlelle, is also optimistic. “You can make good wine from good grapes. This year, despite a lot of rainfall, we will be able to do so thanks to the persistent work of the team working in the vineyards,” he said of the expectations of the family winery, which cultivates 90 hectares in the prime vineyards of the Somogyi Hills.

The wines made on the northern and southern shores of Lake Balaton are similar in variety, but differ in terroir, or unique character and flavour. “We tend to be dominated by volcanic, salty notes – this is fully evident in our white wines, but also in the reds. On the south shore, the loess soil is dominated by stronger, fruity flavours, so we can find very special batches among the red wines of South Balaton, but the area is also very strong in white varieties,” explained the head winemaker of the Archbishop of  Veszprém Winery. The wine tourism that has developed in the region is now making a major contribution to increasing the attractiveness of Lake Balaton. “The wines produced here have the peculiarity of conveying a feeling of life or evoking an old memory of Lake Balaton,” says Ferenc Bujdosó.

They combine tradition and modern technology

The two young winemakers from the Balaton wine region met at university, in the viticulture and wine engineering course, and soon found common ground – both felt a strong commitment to the profession. “Feri is a third-generation winemaker with winemaking in his blood, making his wines with engineering precision, which give a new look to the flavours of southern Lake Balaton,” said the head of the Archbishop of  Veszprém Winery about his colleague. The professional respect for each other is mutual. “In Anti’s style, perfectionism is expressed in the pursuit of the purest and most intense flavours and aromas possible, while respecting the character of the wine-growing region,” explained Ferenc Bujdosó.

In addition to his university teachers, Antal Benesch learned a lot from Zsolt Liptai, the head winemaker of the Pannonhalma Abbey winery, whom he met during his professional practice. After graduating from university, he spent months in New Zealand to learn about the viticultural and winemaking processes there, a country that is at the forefront of environmentally conscious and sustainable winemaking and viticulture. He then continued his studies and experience at the Esterhazy Winery in Austria.

Ferenc Bujdosó also gained professional experience in New Zealand, Italy and France, before returning to Balatonlelle for the 2022 harvest. He believes that his own generation has a head start in many ways, as they have gained a lot of experience abroad and have more modern technology and expertise at their disposal. “In our wine cellar I combine 50 years of tradition with innovation. This work will have a long-lasting impact on the quality and style of the wines, not just in a year or two,” he explained, adding that three generations work together at Bujdosó Winery, teaching the younger ones respect and humility, and the older ones to be open-minded and adapt more quickly. He said that the young generation of winemakers is characterised by open communication, sharing their experiences and, most importantly, daring to ask for advice from each other, so that they can develop faster.

Antal Benesch also combines tradition and innovation as the head winemaker of the 750-year-old Archbishop of Veszprém Winery. “The archdiocese’s motto – the faith of our ancestors is the hope of the future – is also a guiding principle for us. We respect our traditions, but our aim is also to plant new grape varieties, adding new wines to the portfolio. All this with the same high quality as we have now,” he said.