Cover photo: Béres Winery

We already published an article about the Béres Winery, and now we had the oppurtinity to intetview Melinda Regéczy-Béres about their story, the village of Erdőbénye and the famous Wine, Shine, Bénye festival. 

Photo: Béres Winery

Why did your family choose Erdőbénye when they decided to make an investment in Tokaj-Hegyalja?
We were led to Erdőbénye by fate. When my parents, ifj. Dr. József Béres and Klára heard that a large area was for sale, they just came to check it out. They had not planned to start a “serious” winery out of this small trip. However, as soon as they stopped at the foot of Lőcse-dűlő, they fell in love with Erdőbénye – and this love is still alive.

Had they had any contact with the village before?
We had no connection whatsoever with Erdőbénye previously; my mother had hardly set foot in Zemplén County either. My father likes to tell his childhood stories about the frequent excursions to Hegyalja from Kisvárda and he used to be enchanted by the wine region. His mother, my grandmother was born in Bodrogkisfalud, not far from here. It always feels good just to think about it.

Photo: Béres Winery

So why exactly Tokaj-Hegyalja?
When it occurred to my family to start a winery, it was obvious that there is no other option but Tokaj-Hegyalja, the oldest Hungarian brand. This wine region has long-established traditions and rich history; looking after and helping he region is a great opportunity and responsibility at the same time. My parents felt it was a noble task, worthy of the Béres family.

And how do you see your decision now? Was Erdőbénye a good idea or would you choose another village now?
As I have mentioned, it was love at first sight and the wines are not disappointing, either. On the contrary, we could introduce really beautiful, promising wines from our very first vintage of 2003. These were followed by more successes in and outside Hungary, as well. We are proud that the number of our foreign awards is close to 200 as of today. Erdőbénye was voted the Most Beautiful Village of Hungary in 2013, while Béres Winery was awarded Hungary's Most Beautiful Estate of 2015. There isn’t a better place for us in the whole wide world!

Photo: Béres Winery

What do you think of the atmosphere of Erdőbénye village?
It is calm, peaceful and “timeless”. Even time goes by differently here; it feels so good to slow down, to leave the big city rush behind and sit back and relax in nature. The location of the village is wonderful; you simply can’t get enough of the nearby hills, the ever-changing colour of forests and vineyards. It is always a pleasure to take a seat on the patio to sip a glass of wine while listening to the birds chirping and watching the sun set. Then, from time to time, Erdőbénye becomes a bustling place full of life, especially when the Wine, Shine, Erdőbénye celebration is held. We also love this side of the village.

I wonder what influence the guests of Wine, Shine, Erdőbénye – who are mostly intellectuals living in the cities – have on the life of the village?
I would say that this is a long process and we are only at its beginning even though the 10th festival is held this year. We have to learn from each other continuously, village people from city-dwellers and the other way round. We, who live in the city bring the business approach, the experience, great ideas and the capital. We have also played a great part in putting Erdőbénye on the Hungarian wine map, in making its wines well-known and available from Canada to China. For me it is essential to foster a good relationship with the local residents as we think of Erdőbénye as our second home. I also hope that they don’t see us as outsiders any longer. 

Wine, Shine, Bénye or Bor, Mámor, Bénye festival in 2016 by Béres Winery

What are your personal visions of the Wine, Shine, Erdőbénye festival for the future?
We, at Béres still believe that quality comes first, by all means. High-quality programmes and culture, premium gastronomy with first-class, outstanding wines – these are the values which can differentiate us from all the other great and “loud” festivals. Our celebrations have always been characterised by a cosy, relaxed and calm atmosphere and this is how we intend to carry on. This is what matches the place, its mood and what is worthy of Tokaji wines.

Wine, Shine, Bénye or Bor, mámor, Bénye festival in 2017 by Béres Winery

Could you tell us an amusing or funny story about you and the village?
There are many, so it would be really hard to pick one. However, I’m sure that anyone who comes to Erdőbénye, alone or with friends or family to visit the Wine, Shine, Erdőbénye festival will have at least one such a story by the time they are ready to go home! 

Photo: Béres Winery