I’ve stayed on vineyards in Napa County and New Zealand before. I’ve visited countless others wine tasting my way around the world. But staying at the Gróf Degenfeld Winery in Hungary‘s Tokaj wine region was a special experience. It felt like Downton Abbey in Hungary from the get go! Yes this is what the Hungarian version must feel like!
From the minute we drove onto the pristine property, to the beautiful stately country manor on the central part of the vineyard to the period style furniture that reflects the era of the Monarchy, the tranquillity of the surroundings and charm easily made me feel like royalty. Everything breathed good taste and high class. We immediately forgot the bad weather hitting the region once we were greeted by a complimentary glass of wine from the Degenfeld winery. This was going to be home for the next few days, our own Downton Abbey experience.
The property has a unique history, which did not surprise me one bit. The wine growing and wine making traditions have been in the family for almost a century and a half. In fact the Degenfeld family played a very important role in developing the Tokaj wine region. Count Imre Degenfeld was one of the first vineyard owners in Tokaj and a founding member of the Tokaj Region Wine Producers Association that was established in 1857.
In the family’s efforts to help develop tourism in the region, the former viticultural school in the central part of the vineyard was renovated into the first four star hotel in the area in 2003 – the Gróf Degenfeld Castle Hotel.
The grounds are carefully groomed and there are many beautiful old trees; hidden amongst them is a life-size chess set. But then there are rows of grape vines that go on for miles making it so easy to get lost wandering and exploring the vineyard…well providing it wasn’t as cold as it was the end of May when we were there!
From breakfast to dinner we were not disappointed. And the staff? Ridiculously friendly and attentive, albeit shy to speak English. Looking at these photos now I can see where the extra pounds I returned home with may have come from.
The restaurant was filled with gastronomic surprises for lunch and dinner too. The local wines that they recommend with dinner were also of the highest class and very reasonably priced…the “feeling like a royal theme” continued.
It was still too cold for the pool on the property but some quiet time in the sauna cured the nagging cough I was travelling with at the time. Perhaps it was the overall relaxing stay on the vineyard that cured it, perhaps! Paul and Sybil opted for the massage and quite frankly, after they kept talking about it I regretted not getting one myself.
There were times I imagined being dressed up like Mary or Edith in Downton Abbey and strutting around the manor and grounds at Degenfeld. How royal! Instead I was stepping back in time but with modern clothes, hot running water in the bath, wifi and my iPad; history coupled with modernity…just as the family intended!