I was born at the foot of the Tokaj hill, in the beautiful village of Rátka. My first memories of vines and grapes are from when I was about 5 years old. We were going to the vineyards, and I had to walk for miles; once we arrived my parents put me in a sack and hung me from a quince tree so that I would stay out of the way. Though thinking back it all seems a bit cruel, these are my fondest childhood memories: seeing 80 to 120-year-old vines rooted in the colorful volcanic soil, and the dangling, smirking grapes of Furmint, the signature Tokaj grape variety. These images will be imprinted in my mind forever.
As a young adult I studied to be a grape grower and winemaker. I began working with wine in 1975, and in 1978 my wife Kata and I received 450 vine-stocks from my father-in-law as a wedding gift. My first job was with the largest state wine company in Tokaj, where we had to deal with enormous quantities of grapes. There were 65,000 tons of grapes and 12,000 'aszú' berries to process at every harvest. It was madness! Making Tokaj wine should be (and should have been) like crafting a precious jewel, with a result both unique and inimitable, and there is no point trying to substitute quantity for quality.
In 1992 I started to work for the French-owned Disznókő Winery, and what a great change that was! Not only did I learn how to drive a forklift and wash a tank, but I was also blown away by the difference in attitude towards winemaking. At this firm everyone was invested in the grapes’ journey from the vine to the wine. In 2000 I founded Árvay and Co. with a business partner in Tokaj. We co-owned this company from 2000 until the end of 2008. In 2009, our family left the Tokaj company and moved back to Rátka, establishing the Árvay Family Winery to proudly develop our own range of Tokaj wines.
Our vineyard is now 17 hectares, including the vines we received as a wedding gift. It is interesting that the things I remember as a child are the things I appreciate most nowadays: small-clustered grape varieties, the mountain peaks, and the volcanic soil - I can get lost for hours selecting stones and rocks, and hypothesizing about the mystical qualities of certain parcels of land.
Size of vineyards: 42 acres
Grapes grown: Furmint, Hárslevelü, Sárgamuskotály, Muscat Lunel, Sauvignon Blanc
Soil and terroir: volcanic rhyolite tuff