Károly Áts, owner of the Áts Family Wine Estate in Tokaj-Hegyalja, was chosen as the winemaker of the year by the 50 best winemakers in the country on Friday. The first prize of the 2020 Winemakers’ Competition was handed over by Zoltán Guller, CEO of the Hungarian Tourism Agency, at the Rókusfalvy Estate in Etyek. At the gala, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy spoke about how the government will help domestic producers alleviate the damage caused by the epidemic.
Károly Áts, Tokaj winemaker who won this year’s award, learned everything about wine-making from his father and then gained a reputation as the long-term chief winemaker of Royal Tokaji. They established their family winery in 2012 in the dominant vineyards of Mád. The crop is processed in cellars in Tarcal.
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This is not the first recognition of Áts during his years as a winemaker: he also won the title of Wine Producer of the Year when he founded his own winery. In addition, in 2013 he became the chief winemaker of the Tokaj Trading House’s successor, Grand Tokaj. He is also credited with Royal Tokaji’s 1999 Essence, which was the first batch to receive a maximum of 100 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine during its existence.
The list of the 50 best Hungarian winemaker are announced every year at the Wine Conference. They are the ones who have the right to vote on the Winemaker of the Winemakers competition, held annually since 2007, and choose the year’s best winemaker from among them. Every year, the 50 chosen winemakers, as well as the winners of the previous years gather at the Winemaker of the Winemakers Round-tasting event to taste each other’s wines and vote for the first round. After the first round, the five best get into the final. Then, the 50 best winemakers vote again to choose the Winemaker of the Winemakers from the finalists. In 2020, three of the finalists were from the Tokaj wine region (Károly Áts, Sarolta Bárdos, Judit Bodó), one from Szekszárd (István Ipacs Szabó), and one from Villány (Zoltán Heimann).
At the opening of the wine competition gala, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy spoke about the significant decline in wine consumption due to the epidemic, therefore the cooperation of winemakers and professional organizations with the Ministry are making it possible to start applying for subsidies now. As part of the compensation, the Ministry also supports the reduction of stocks of wine products that cannot be sold or are difficult to sell in the framework of the crisis distillation measure, which can reduce the supply pressure on the wine market. He added that the total value of this support is HUF 2.5 billion.
featured photo: Attila Balázs/MTI