Land locked, with Europe's largest lake, Balaton, the country is divided in halve by the Danube flowing North to south. In all of Europe only Italy, France and Germany have older and more evolved traditions of wine-making than Hungary's most famous vineyards. The practise of wine making dates back at least to Roman times, when it was then a province of Pannonia. After the fall of the Romans the vine continued and flourished. Nurtured through history by prominent characters such as Bela IV (1235-70) who rebuilt Hungary after the Mongol invasion of 1241. Hungary's most famous wine Tokay is first mentioned in records in the 15th century. With the defeat of Louis in 1514, Muslims dominated the country. It remained under their rule for a century and a half, though the wine industry survived it did not prosper. The legendary "Bull's Blood" (Egri Bikavér) of Eger dates from 1552. The Magyars led by Istvan Dobó, defended the fortress of Eger against a numerically superior force of Turks. It was said through out the battle they drank copious amounts of wine. The Turks on seeing their red stained beards believed that they got their strength from drinking bull’s blood and retreated in terror hence the name. The 17th century saw the emergence of an especially rich Tokay Azu. In 1641 the Vine Law for the entire Tokaj-Hegyalja was drawn up covering vineyard selection; irrigation, construction of terraces etc. By 1660 the benefits of noble rot were identified. This led to the formulation and regulation of the production of Tokay wines. 1686 the city of Buda was liberated from the Turks, and so followed the liberation of Hungary. In the late 80's there was a return to privatization. The country has seen an infusion of investment and technology from the west, which has help, put it on track. The fact that Hungarian Authorities have yet to deal with the legal aspect of” land ownership" has in fact prevented privatization attempts by some foreign investors. However since 1991, new laws have been introduced paving the way for a new future. Approximately 110,000 ha's of vineyards, many of which are privately owned. 60% of the production is white. Good wines producing climate and a variety of suitable soil.
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