Etyek is one of Hungary’s newer wine regions, although the fame of wines grown on the slopes of the Buda Mountains goes back to medieval times. During the reign of the late Arpad Dynasty in the 13th century, wine provided the citizens of Buda with their main source of income. In the wake of the Ottoman Occupation, Serbian immigrants settled down in the city and its environs. Owing to the influence of the Balkans that these settlers communicated, red wines gained the upper hand in the local vineyards.  Following the expulsion of the Ottoman conquerors, the ethnic scene was diversified further with the arrival of Germans. In 1890, the phylloxera ruined most of the vineyards.

Etyek itself rose to prominence in the middle of the 19th century as one of the centers of Hungarian wine production, owing to the diligence of German settlers and the proximity of the champagne producer Törley House, which sourced the grapes for its famous sparkling wines from this region.  After the Great War, the communist system had no plans for Etyek other, than to provide base wines for cheap sparkling. For decades, the region sold practically no products under its own name, although the small growers continued to make wine for their own needs.

The old grape of Etyek was Schlamper, a German variety unsuitable for making quality wine, while black Kadarka probably dominated in the district. The modern Etyek is a quintessential white wine region, with Olaszrizling and Chardonnay. Zold Veltelini, Szurkebarat, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rizlingszilvani can each claim an area of 50 to 100 hectares. Like other white wine producing regions in Hungary, Etyek seems to suffer under the stifling dominion of the Olaszrizling variety, which keeps in check the finer grapes—such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc—that have done the most in recent times to enhance the region’s good name. The soils of Etyek are not cut out for firm wines of great character, but are certainly capable of imparting vibrant acidity. This is one reason why Etyek is the best source of grapes for sparkling wine production in Hungary. Apart from base wines for sparkling, Etyek’s wine style follows western trends for elegant, cold-fermented dry wines without too much body.

Cellars carved in the same limestone are still a landmark in Etyek, although their number has diminished from 560 before World War II to 150 today. The finest cellars here were built in the Kecskegodor (“Goat’s Pit”), on the Ujhegy and Oreghegy Hills, as well as near the village center in an amphitheater layout. The cellar row of the nearby village of Paty, although of lesser architectural distinction, is well worth a visit.