Ágnes László’s biography of Nimród Kovács will be hitting the shelves in Hungary on 17 October. The author and the protagonist presented the book to journalists and other guests at a reception in Budapest on 12 October with a lively and humorous discussion on some of the key points in Nimród’s adventurous life along with plenty of amusing anecdotes, including one or two concerning his encounters with Richard Gere, to whom he bears a remarkable resemblance, and Bill Clinton.

There are many who leave the rat race to pursue a life in the wine-making world, but there are perhaps few in Hungary who had such a successful business life before doing so. Born in the eighth district of Budapest to a family originating in the countryside, Nimród escaped to ‘the free world’ of the US in 1971, where he led a colourful and successful life before returning to Hungary to continue his achievements here.

He has come a long way on this 45-year journey of his, beginning in Tulsa as a lowly dishwasher, later graduating to the higher role of waiter, having practiced beforehand in a dinner jacket lent by friends. He commented that he learnt a lot from being a waiter, hence the title of the book, as you are a kind of psychologist and have to be able to judge people from their faces, and their smiles, to determine what kind of people they are and how to deal with them. This stood him in good stead later in his business life too, he says. He worked in advertising on Madison Avenue in New York, then progressed to the Cable TV business and was involved in the founding of the cable channel ‘The Discovery Channel’, now one of the largest channels in the world. He has no regrets, he says, that he is not a shareholder now. Asked about his first million dollars, he says that at that time there was no real money in the cable business, so they were compensated in options and he ended up with plenty of those. Thus, later, when selling the company, he cashed in big time and this was the first million.

Returning to Europe later, he wondered about the possibility of setting up a cable company in Hungary, this was to become HBO. Later, he actively participated in the creation of the UPC cable group and occupied the seat of regional CEE chairman, before getting involved in the wine business in 2000 with the Monarchia wine merchant business. Since 2009, he has also had his own winery in Nagy Eged in the Eger region.

He is now 67 and admits that he is still looking for the answer to the question of what life is all about. He believes that you should think in terms of quality and brands, and that everyone is a brand in life. He has always tried to be fair during his life, he mentions, sharing profit and success with his family, colleagues and those around him. An eternal optimist, he points out that you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

Although now retired from the business world, he is still an active investor in various companies. Moreover, he is increasingly proud of his winery in Eger, and guests had the chance to try his Monopole Chardonnay Battonage, and a trilogy of reds named in honour of blues music – Blues, Rhapsody and Soul (Kékfrankos, Bikavér and Syrah respectively).

If you want to find out more about the charismatic Nimród’s life adventures, you’ll have to get a copy of his biography. In Hungarian only.

‘Jó pincer voltam… Kovács Nimród’ by Agnés László, Kossuth Kiadó, HUF 3200.