The name of Tokaj is identified with wine all over the world. In Tokaj Wine Region situated in the north-east part of Hungary they found the fossil of the leaf of an ancient vine type, which is regarded as the common ancestor of the present vine varieties. So it can be said that the vine is truly indigenous and natural to Tokaj.
This is due to the exceptional microclimate, the soil conditions created as a result of volcanic and post-volcanic activities, the favourably situated slopes and the autumn mist caused by the rivers Bodrog and Tisza. The oak trees from which the barrels are made also grow here, and the fermentation of the wine is facilitated by the special mould settling on the cellar walls. The resulting product was considered to have medicinal properties up to the most recent times. The French King Louis 14th called it “the king of wines and the wine of kings”.
Over the centuries different ethnic groups – Saxon, Swabian, Polish, Romanian, Armenian and Jewish people – settled here, and they all added to the economic and social life as well as to the culture of wine production. This variety is reflected by the church and secular architecture of the settlements. In addition to the monuments of folk architecture, the building styles of the aristocracy and of the wealthier aspiring peasantry with civic aspirations of the 16-17th century also represent a unique value.
The area has been protected since 1737, when it was declared an exclusive wine area by a royal decree, the first example of such a provision in the world. The interplay of landscape, ecosystem and human culture and tradition in Tokaj-Hegyalja has created such a unique integration and mutual dependence that its preservation and introduction to visitors is a matter of universal interest.