The vineyard, or to put it more technicaly, “promontorium” known by the name of “Nyergesek” is one of Tállya’s fabled medieval slopes. Chances are that it owes its name to its peculiar shape, reminiscent of a saddle (which translates to “nyereg” in Hungarian). Its current name (Nyergesek), the commonly used plural form of the word points out to the fact that in the 17th century, they discriminated between Nyerges and Nyerges tető, however by the end of the 18th century this distinction completely disappeared from all written documents. At that time, only the name “Nagy-Nyerges-hegy” was in use. It is also worthy of note that contrary to popular belief, the term or name “Kis-Nyerges” was not used at all. The term “Nyergesek”, the one we use today, started to spread in the middle of the 18th century.
During the Middle age, Tokaj-Hegyalja’s grape and wine production went through an explosion-like advancement. The main reason for such an abrupt change was that alongside with Buda, Sopron and Szerém this territory was where most of the estates and vineyards were owned by the Hungarian political and ecclesiastic elite. It was also at around this time that the winemakers of Tokaj-Hegyalja took over some novel vinicultural techniques from the vintners of Szerém. On top of that, at around 1460, numerous vintners coming from Szerém settled down in South Tokaj-Hegyalja (in Abaújszántó, Mád, Rátka and Tállya).
In the end of the 1460s, affluent citizens of Barátfa and Kassa, thus far dealing solely in wines from Szerém realized that the competitor wines of Hegyalja were grown geographically closer making it easier for them to obtain vineyards and sell the wines produced there in Northern-Europe. All of these were facilitated by the duty policies of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) introduced in 1482. The policy made royal free cities of the Upland (Bártfa, Eperjes, Kassa) be exempt from all duties concerning their wine business. In the meanwhile, so as to protect the wines of Szerém, a rather strict duty policy was implemented.
The vineyard’s name was first mentioned (though only indirectly) in 1469, when Michael Reiter, an affluent Saxon citizen from Kassa, purchased significant properties on Nyerges (Niegres) and Tökösmál (Thekesmaal) from the locals as well as from the aristocrat Szapolyai family, the owners of Tállya at that time. It was not long before Michael Reiter decided to sell these vineyards and so, in 1481 and 1485, he entered into a lengthy process of negotiation with the free royal city of Bártfa. Even though these very attempts to sell the vineyards proved to be in vain, in 1487, the wealthy commoner from Kassa did manage to reach an agreement with the city’s self-government and sold the vineyards for a generous sum. This is the reason why they started to call the city’s vineyard on Tökösmál Barátfai. What is more, in 1489, Michael Reiter sold the rest of his vineyards on Nyerges and Tökösmál to the free royal city of Bártfa.
In addition to the previously mentioned properties, between 1485 and 1526, Bártfa purchased a number of vineyards on the border of Abaújszántó (Agyag,Fekete-hegy, Gelencsér, Nagy-Sátor, Szent Margit, Boldogasszony-Bea, Gyűr-hegy) and Tállya. On top of that, well-off citizens of Bártfa bought vineyards both from local commoners and aristocrats in Bányász, Fövenyes, Hegyes, Hetény, Kővágó, Nyerges, Palota, Remete, Tökösmál and Hasznos.
After Rákóczi's War of Independence, Bártfa sold most of its vineyards to the aristocrats, but those on the Nyerges and Tökösmál remained in their hands until the peace agreement of Trianon. Later on, these vineyards were purchased by Jewish merchants and wealthy families with Jewish roots who remained the owners of these properties until the holocaust (1944). After that, the vineyards were passed into public ownership.
Following the Battle of Mohács, until the first third of the 17th century, we only have a limited amount of information concerning the ownership of Nyerges (at that time Nierghes). The main reason for that was that during the Ottoman Empire’s conquest numerous documents have been destroyed and only a handful managed to survive. All we know is that in the second half of the 16th century there was a change in the ownership of the vineyards and that most of the properties were obtained by families with an aristocrat lineage.
In 1622, the Alaghy family, being in possession of the manors Tállya and Regéc, made a listing of all the owners in Tállya, who at that time owned properties after which tithe (lat. vinea decima) had to be paid. At the same time, the name of the owners on the Nyerges included the Beke, Butthkay, Gyulay, Keglevich, Semsey, Stansich Horváth (later known as baron Horváth), Telekessy, Vass and the Vörös families. Apart from the previously listed families, the royal free city of Bártfa and the self-government of the market town Tállya also owned vineyards here.
In 1632, the Alaghy family’s spear side died off and following a lengthy lawsuit, the Rákóczy family gained possession of the manor. In 1635, György Rákóczi, ruler of Transylvania, made the owners be exempt from the tithe (lat. exemptio) and so their properties became so called free vineyards (lat. vinea libera exempta). From this point onward, the owners had the right to buy and sell their vineyards as well as the wines produced there without having to ask for the landlord’s permission. The only exception was the vineyard of Bártfa on the Nyerges: after these territories, tithe was still chargeable. However, between 1635 and 1644, György Rákóczy made the cities Bányász, Hasznos, Fövenyes, Hegyes, Palota, Remete and Tökösmál be exempt from tithe.
In the mid-17th century, new owners appeared on the Nyerges, who aside from purchasing, laid their hands on these territories through inheritance. This is how the Bakay, Patay, Recsky and Szemere families gained ownership. Although, they all owned vineyards after which the owner was still bound to pay tithe.
After the fall of the Wesselényi conspiracy and the first uprising of Hegyalja, in 1670, Wien confiscated the vineyards of numerous rebels and conspirators and so the legal ownership of these territories was transferred to the treasury (lat. fiscus). Many of these properties were gifted to aristocrats, the Christian clergy as well as to the Catholic Church which, at that time, renewed in the name of the Counter-Reformation. Surprisingly, all of these had hardly any impact on the owners of properties on Nyerges, Tállya. Only the Kátay, Patay and the Szemere properties were confiscated (lat. confiscation), but a few years later, the owners or their successors had the chance to get back their seized territories on the Nyerges. What is more, owing to their connections, the aristocrat Recsky family managed to stay out of the confiscation despite having been an integral part of the events leading to the seizure of lands.
At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, new owners appeared on the Nyerges. Therefore, in 1707, the landlord, Ferenc Rákóczi II. had all the owners listed. At that time, 2 listings were made by Ferenc Klobusiczky and Márton Kurcsay. Both of these were built on Rákóczy’s listings made in 1702 and 1704. According to these documents, apart from the above mentioned families, the names of the owners included the Balogh, Berzeviczky Csemernyei, Dobai, Draveczky, Esterházy, Galambos, Holegancz, Jántó, Kálmáncsay, Komjáthy, Matolcsy, Mayer, Merczel, Nemessányi, Paur, Pethő, Szentiványi, Szentmartoni, Szirmay, Tornay, Urbányi, Varacskay and the Vay families. In 1707, alongside with the Reformed Church of Tállya, the Parish of Kassa also owned vineyards at this territory. The majority of these lands were free-, meaning that they were exempt from tithe.
After Rákóczy’s war of independence, Counts of Szirma began to expand on the Nyerges. In 1730, for example, they purchased extensive vineyards from the Counts of Esterháza. However, in the 18th century, there was a change in the ownership of the properties and a new wave of aristocrat families became owners. It was also at around this time that the Bárczy, Garas, Haller, Kapy, Kutassy and Palchy families as well as the presbytery of Tállya and the provostry of Lubó acquired ownership. The listing, made in 1783 by the order of József II. verified all of these changes in ownership.
Until 1945, the majority of the vineyards remained in the hands of the above mentioned institutions and families or their successors. By 1990, with the exception of one or two vineyards, all of the properties were passed into public ownership.