Tokajská spoločnosť Viničky s.r.o.
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Tokajská spoločnosť Viničky s.r.o.
Tokaj and history
The Tokaj is one of the few regions across the world where grapes can be grown for the production of naturally sweet wines. The beginnings of vine-growing in the area date back to the period of Roman rule, when the region was part of Pannonia. Tokaj viticulture grew up in the early Roman period in the third and fourth centuries A.D. During the period of the displacement of nations, there was a temporary decline in viticulture, which saw greater expansion on the arrival of the Slavs. Magyars, who travelled across the Carpathians during the last waves of nation displacement under the leadership of Almus and his son Arpád, came across developed viticulture here. The report of the commander of the Turks is proof of this, where he declared to prince Arpád that he found magnificent vineyards on the surrounding hills near the confluence of the rivers Bodrog and Tisa.

Confluence of the rivers Tisza and Bodrog - TokajThe name TOKAJ is of Slav origin, from the word “STOKAJ”, figuratively meaning the confluence of two rivers, the rivers Bodrog and Tisa. The Tartar invasions in 1241 and 1242 destroyed the vineyards and brought about a considerable depopulation of this region. Its restoration was supported by the Hungarian king Belo IV. (1235-1270) who colonised this region with Italian settlers who thus settled the Tokaj vineyard villages. Italian surnames were also preserved here, based on these facts. King Belo IV. himself called this region “the land of the Italians”. Italian wine-growers brought and planted new vine varieties, including Furmint which became the basic Tokaj variety. The vineyards are mentioned in writing in 1249 as being in the present-day village of Viničky, in Malá Trňa in 1390 and in Bara in 1410. There was also much development in viticulture under the rule of King Matej Korvin from 1458 to 1490, when property and vineyard disputes continued between the Hungarian rulers and the Church. During the period of the Turkish wars, and after the Turks conquered the territory in 1528, the area remained under Turkish rule for 170 years. Over this time, the culture of vineyards in the Tokaj area did not develop much, but the majority of Tokaj cellars date back to this period, when they were built as shelters for people and property against looting armies.

The technology for the production of Tokaj wines gradually improved, and in 1560 we can register the term cibéb (raisin) in Fabricio Balász’s Latin-Hungarian dictionary, which come about when Tokaj grape varieties being attacked by the noble Botritis cinerea Persoon rot as a result of favourable weather and specific climatic conditions.

Tokaj Society Viničky s.r.o.The first Tokaj selection (from the Hungarian “aszú” or “puttons wine”) was produced at Easter in 1650 in Sárospatak by Sepsi Laczko Maté for the widow of Juraj Rákoczi I., Zuzanna Lórantffyová. In 1655, the harvest of cibéb (raisins) was legislated, thus providing the basis for the production technology of Tokaj wines. The period of rule of the Rákoczi and Lórantffy families was not only associated with Hungarian revolts, but also with the Reformation and support for education. As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, Tokaj wine became the main export product of merchants from Bardejov and Levoča. They obtained it from the town’s Tokaj vineyards. The royal free king of Levoča was one of the largest owners of vineyards in the Tokaj region. Levoča townspeople held vineyards situated in present-day Hungary for whose purchase official documents were issued. Tokaj wine found its way across Hungary’s northern border mainly to Poland and the markets of Krakow, Vratislava and Krosno. Tokaj wine’s greatest glory and admiration was to be found at the royal court of King Louis XIV. (1638-1715) where it obtained the title of “VINUM REGUM – REX VINORUM” meaning “THE WINE OF KINGS, THE KING OF WINES”. This drink was brought to the king by František Rákoczi II, born in Borša, who was offered asylum by the king after the unsuccessful Hungarian revolts. Tokaj wine was also imported to the Russian Imperial Court by Tsar Peter I. and his successor Tsarina Katarina. Pope Benedict XIV blessed Tokaj wine and its donator Maria Theresa (1740-1780): “May the land which gave birth to you be blessed, let the lady who sent you be blessed, and let I be blessed for being able to consume you.”

Ján MathiaszBy lowering the economic and social important of Upper Hungarian towns in the eighteenth century and introducing high custom duties, the export of wine from Hungarian decreased. This also brought about a reduction in the surface area of vineyards. At the end of the nineteenth century, Phylloxera caused much damage in the vineyards of the Tokaj region, as a result of which this vineyard area was destroyed. Ján Mathiasz (1838 -1921) from Viničky was responsible for the restoration of the vineyards, and it was he who laid the foundations for breeding new varieties in Hungary by his discovery of vine growing on immune sand and by cultivating a large number of sample grape plants.
After the creation of Czechoslovakia, the Tokaj region was divided by a national border. This division, however, did not change the soil or climatic conditions. In 1924, a viticulture-viniculture research office was founded in Malá Trňa which conducted research into vine varieties and the production technology of Tokaj wines.