The land of Hungary has always been blessed with a climate and soils perfect for viticulture and wine making. A wide variety of soil types and sunshine in abundance have made the land a wine making region that goes back to the Celts in the 3rd century ad.
The Romans brought the first vine-shoots to this fertile land of the Carpathian Basin, and they established the first vineyards in Szerémség, Baranya, Tolna, the Buda Hills and Lake Fertő. It has been said that Attila the Hun's warriors were fond of Hungarian wines, and at the time of the Magyar tribes (896 AD) Arpád awarded his subjects with vineyards in the later legendary Tokaj-Hegyalja region.
The wines of Szekszárd, Somlóvásárhely, Pannonhalma, Mór, Eger, and Csopak were a major source of income during the medieval period too. At around the 14th century new areas were designated for vineyards and royal vineyards were created at Somlo. Other areas popular at that time included Gyöngyös, Debrö, Verpelét and Domoszlo.
The cities of Sopron, Pozsony, Köszeg, and of course Buda passed severe regulations in protection of their own wines, banning the import and selling of foreign wines. Before the 150-year occupation of the Turks many varieties of Italian and French grapes were brought in, as well as the custom of producing so called ürmös csemegebor, or vermouth.
The Kadarka grape, later widely grown, was brought to the Szekszárd region by the Serbs persecuted by the Turks. The Turks also destroyed the famous Szerémség vineyards. In the Turkish era the Eger white grapes were replaced by red types and in time the Hungarians learnt how to make red wines from the Serbs.
It was in the 16th century that the Tokaj region started to be fashionable, with late harvesting and the aszu grapes (prone to botrytis) producing the sweet white wines the region is still renowned for. Tokaj became known as the 'wine of kings, king of wines', so termed by the Sun King, Louis XIV. It was soon to become a favourite among the royal households of Europe.
The Wines of the Balaton hills were greatly valued, especially the Badacsony types. The Books of Badacsony Hegyközség village were first written in 1752 which was when most peasant wine cellars were built (the date is carved into the lintel of each cellar), and the characteristic arcaded, two-storey wineries were erected then too.
Due to the breaking of indigenous grasslands in the Great Plain (between the Danube and the Tisza rivers) in the last decade of the 18th century, sand overran the land. In order to obstruct the diffusion of sand vine plantations were founded. By the end of the century there were a great many cellars, and modern methods of cooperage were adopted.
In the 19th century new production methods were developed, the cubic capacity of barrels was standardized, and in the latter half of the century vinicultural equipment was fully modernized.