History of Tokay

Origin of growing vine is known from the supremacy of Romans. After the fall of Roman Empire, Slavic continued in growing vine. When Hungarians came to this land under command of Almus and his son Arpád in 894, they already found developed viniculture. This confirms a Turkish duke when reporting to prince Arpád that he found exquisite vineyards at confluence of Bodrog and Tisa (two rivers at the area of present Slovakia). Because of Tatar's intrusion in 1241 inhabitants left the region and vineyards were demolished. King Béla IV. colonised this region by Italians. Italian colonists have brought not just new growing skills and experience here but the new basic grape species - Furmint too. Great desert for vine growing development in Tokay area belongs to king Matej Korvín (1458-1490) as well.

In time of Turkish wars and after conquering the land by Turks in 1528, the area remained under the Turkish mastery for 170 years. Growing vine did not really spread these times, but most of the Tokay cellars come from this age, as they were built as hiding-places for people and their possession from raiding soiery.

Technology of producing Tokay wines is improving step by step. In the year pof 1560 we can already find a word cibeba (grape) in latin-hungarion dictionary from Fabricio Balász. Cibeba actually is a grape, which is made in 'Tokay varieties mildewed by generous mould Botrytis cinerea Persoon' during nice weather.

The origin of name

They say that the name of the village and the hill is of Slavic origin. It is derived from old Slavic word "STOKAJ". In metaphoric meaning it is confluence of two rivers - Tisa and Bodrog.

Tirst Tokay selection

... was made by Sepsi Laczko Maté. In 1650 at Easter time Spesi Laczko Maté surprised his lord's wife 'Zuzana Lórantffyová' (Susan Lórantffy) by wine produced from cibebas. She was a widow of Juraj Rákoczi I. (George Rákoczi I.). First law related to Tokay area was enacted in the year 1655. This law ordered collecting of cibebas for production of Tokay wine selection. That was the base of technological process of wine production.

Noteworthy chapter of Tokay wine history is connected to te name of František Rákoczi II. This princ kept regularly sending packages of wine to the royal court Of Ludovít XIV. (1638-1715). Tokay wine has became a favourite drink of czar Peter the Great and his successor Katarína (Catherine).

Tokay as a medicine

There is a report, that Tokay wines have healing impacts. Because of active foreign interest in 18th century Tokay wine gained its famous not just in Europe, but at other continents as well. People were buying it as a medicine "Universalis vera medicina" for healing anaemia, slackness and nerve illnesses.

It is settled that Tokay wines stimulate weak organism very much and have strong antidepressive effect.


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