South-south-east of the Zemplén Hills lies the 87kilometre long, 5,500hectare famous TokajHegyalja wine region. Established in 1737, this was the world’s first closed wine region, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002. The wine region is made up of 27 settlements, including the picturesque village of Hercegkút, with the Kőporos and Gombos Hill rows of two-tier wine cellars: 195 in total.
A cellar for every home
Just about every family in this 270-year old village has a wine cellar. The Swabian families who arrived in 1750 settled in the area currently known as the Gombos Hill row of cellars. At the time, the land was owned by Count Trautson. Arriving after an exhausting journey, this closeknit group of benevolent people dug cellars in the ground and erected wooden huts over them. The wooden huts would later be replaced by stone houses, and the cultivation of the land would begin. The villagers quickly learned the trade of viniculture and winemaking, and soon became highly soughtafter experts. The grapes grown on the slopes of the nearby Kőporos and Gombos hills were processed in the cellars carved in the rhyolite tuff bedrock at the edges of the village, then fermented in high-quality barrels made in Göncz and Szerednye. The Gombos Hill cellars were built in four rows, one above the other, and have unique, triangular entrances. Inside these façades, the cellars run for as far as 40 metres and fork off into two or three branches, creating a multilevel cellar system that is still used by the famous local wineries for storing and maturing wine to this day.