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Terry Sullivan

VylyanSummary: Wine growing and winemaking is an art. Vylyan in the Villány wine region of Hungary takes art to new levels. The artistic touch of the winery can be seen in the vineyards as well as the aroma and taste of the wines. This artistic touch is not only due to the staff of Vylyan; the art can also be seen in the terroir of the land. Wine enthusiasts will discover red wines that can rival the international varieties from the best world-wide wine regions.

Our guide for several days in Hungary was Gabriella Gónusz, one of the owners of Wine a’More Travel, the company that set up our Hungarian experience. As we rode the three hours from south of Budapest to the Villány wine region, we noticed the abundant sunshine and warmer temperatures. This is a red wine region. Our first stop in this region was Vylyan. The mission of this winery is to express this wine region in every drop of wine. They choose the ancient word for Villány, “Vylyan” as the name of their pincészet (winery).

VylyanAs we proceeded to the winery building and tasting room, we passed old wooden barrels that were transformed into works of art. The first barrel from the parking area showed a sculpture of roots grabbing a barrel and holding it tightly, a gentle reminder of the importance of the vineyard in the final aging of a wine. Some barrels were brightly painted, one was turned into a large wine mug, another looked like a cabinet of drawers. One barrel had every other stave removed and looked like a prison cell with a human statue inside. My favorite artistic use of retired wine barrels was one where the barrel looked as though it was suspended and pouring out wine like wine pours out from a bottle.


VylyanWe were led to a room where we met Mónika Debreczeni, the estate manager. While Mónika was showing us the three groups of wine products, she talked about the history of Vylyan. Mónika and her husband Pál began their shared wine journey after the regime change took place in Hungary. Both Mónika and Pál were economists who enjoyed traveling to wine regions throughout the world to gather knowledge. They founded the business and started planting vines in 1992. One day Pál attended a winemaker’s meeting and never returned because of an accident. Mónika had everything thrust upon her. The foundation for the winery was laid and Mónika had been working on its operation. She commented, “Pál had the frame, and I was just adding color on it.”

Mónika described their mission. Vylyan wants to craft wines that express the terroir of Villány. Rather than making boring wines, they want to produce wines that represent the personality of the terroir and wines that are elegant as well as refreshing.


The vineyards surround the winery building. Today, the vineyards comprise of 120 hectares (almost 300 acres) with most of the plantings taking place from 1992 through 2004. Varieties include Riesling, Olaszrizling and Chardonnay for the white wines. Csókaszölö, Portugieser, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, Kékfrankos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah are planted for the red wines.

Outside the tasting room there is a terrace overlooking the vineyard. As I ambled to the vines, I noticed that they were just beginning to wake from their winter’s slumber. Buds were beginning to push forth on the Portugieser vines.

VylyanThe Cellar

The first thing we noticed about the cellar was how clean it appeared. We did not see the black cellar mold that was common in other wine regions. Barriques and casks lined the walls aging wines. The barriques were a combination of Hungarian and French oak. Since red wines rule in the Villány wine region, many of the barrels showed the classic red stain on the center of the barrel. The large casks were made by Stockinger in Austria.

Wine Tasting

Vylyan produces about 700,000 bottles of wine.

Back in the tasting area, we tasted several wines. Mónika stated the importance of art and literature for the winery. Rather than writing traditional wine notes for the wines, I wrote a haiku for each wine. I write haikus about once a year for a wine tasting. I have done this for several years, inspired at a wine conference to not write traditional wine notes. With Vylyan’s emphasis on art and literature, it made sense to create poems for each wine in the haiku format.

2018 Macska was made with the Portugieser grape with 12- alcohol.


Macska, cat’s meow
Silk, blueberries, blackberries
Easy drinking wine.

Vylyan2018 RedY was a blend of Portugieser, Zweigelt and Kékfrankos with 12.5% alcohol.


This wine is RedY.
Black fruits surround; velvety
Pleasant, local taste.

The 2015 Csoka was made with 100% Csókaszölö grapes. The wine had 13% alcohol. This grape variety is very old and almost extinct. Although not the only planting of this grape, Vylyan has the largest vineyard of this grape with 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres). The wine bottle has a picture of a csóka (Corvus monedula) bird on the label.


Csoka sings of taste.
Fruity, spicy meets the mouth
With kissing tannins.

The 2015 Kékfrankos had 13% alcohol.


Local Kékfrankos
Soft, blackberries, blueberries
Fruit, baking spices.

2015 Villány Franc had 13.5% alcohol.


Red Villány Franc
Blackberries, plum, spice
Very bold tannins.

Vylyan2015 Cabernet Sauvignon


Sauvignon ruby
Blackberries, cassis, spices
A tannic lover.

The 2012 Duennium was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with 14.5% alcohol.


Delicious black fruits
An elegant ruby wine
Blended, fruity, spice.


We had a multi-course lunch that we could pair with any of the wines we tasted. Continuing the art theme, the plates were an artistic presentation. Like the wines, the foods looked elegant
from hummus, pork and dessert.

Wine enthusiasts can taste some wonderful red wines at Vylyan. The terrace offers a wonderful tasting and event area offering stunningl views of the vineyards. It is best to contact the winery for an appointment. There are different wine tastings and a cellar tour. The bistro, Vylyan kitchenette, has a menu of food that will pair perfectly with a wine tasting.

Vylyan Vineyards and Winery
Kisharsány, Fekete-hegy 092. hrsz, 7800 Hungary

For more information about Vylyan


Article written April 2019.



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