“Poland is a blank page to write on”
Importer of the Month: Tomasz Witkowski
“Polak-Węgier – dwa bratanki” – “Poles and Hungarians are two good friends” as the saying goes and indeed, citizens of these two nations have always been close to each other. When the war in Ukraine broke out, the reaction of the Hungarian government ignited some negative comments in Poland towards Hungarians, but thanks God most of our Polish friends know very well that we are not equal with the leader of our country. And Tomasz Witkowski, this passionate wine importer raises our friendship to a new level: the shop and webshop he manages offers the widest selection of Hungarian wines in Poland. And the name of the shop? “2Bratanki“, of course! The webshop has just been launched, so, Polish winelovers, a whole new world has opened for you!
Cover photo: Tomasz Witkowski and Ágnes Németh (writer of this article) in Villány in 2021
Labels so far: Bock, Bodri, Bolyki, Buttner, Dobosi, Dubicz, Fehérvári, Feind, Frittmann, Gál Lajos, Gál Tibor, Gere Attila, Götz, Günzer Tamás, Havas&Timar, Heumann, Jammertal, Kiss, Mad Wine, Mészáros Pál, Miklóscsabi, Pfneiszl, Royal Tokaji, Sauska, Szent Donát, Szöllősi, Takler, Taschner, Thummerer, Tornai, Varsányi, Vylyan, Winelife
ul. Filarecka 3/LU
30-110 Kraków, Poland
A child was born
– We met last year at Franc & Franc event in Villány, and certainly I was curious to see if you have chosen any Villányi Franc wines, so I have searched for your website with no result…
– Indeed, it took a long time to develop the website and webshop, but finally it is ready and I am so proud of it! It is like a child for me. Of course we worked with a professional web developer, and we are absolutely satisfied with the outcome. As for the wines from Villány, well, I was so impressed with the wines I tasted at Franc & Franc back in 2021 that I obviously increased our Villány selection, check it out. We have Gere, Vylyan, Günzer, Bock, Jammertal, Heumann – quite a line up, isn’t it?
– Stunning! You are so passionate about Hungarian wines, but where does it come from? Do you remember the beginning?
– Absolutely, I remember clearly. The very first Hungarian wine I tasted was at Lajos Gál winery in Eger. I remember standing in his tiny cellar, listening to him, his fabulous explanation of his wines. I fell in love with Hungarian wines forever.
– How about the company? Does 2Bratanki/Węgierskie wina belong to Domus Vini?
– Yes, exactly. Domus Vini is the name of the company and 2Bratanki is the name of the shop. I met the owners of Domus Vini in 2016, they are also great fans of Hungarian wines. The shop had different locations, now it is situated near the local market, which is an ideal location – people often pop in after shopping in the market to get some wine. Most wine shops offer wines from different countries, unlike us: we offer only Hungarian wines but a very wide range. I am sure we have the largest selection in Kraków, but maybe in the whole country.
A tough job
– What do Polish winelovers drink?
– Well, first of all wines from well known wine countries like Italy, Spain, also New World countries like New Zealand. Italian Primitivo is a very popular red wine, people often ask me to recommend “something like Primitivo” or “something like Prosecco”. Hungarian wines are hardly known. Members of the older generation, who lived in the Communist era remember wines from Hungary – unfortunately they also remember the quality of those wines. I keep explaining that a lot has changed since then, so much investment took place and winemakers went abroad to learn. I tell them about the awards Hungarian wines won, I assure them about the high quality of these wines. I tell them to try, I ask them to believe me and they always come back saying that I was right. Polish wine consumption is growing by 10% a year, which is a lot, yet many Polish wine connoisseurs hardly know anything about Hungary. Kraków is a bit better in this aspect, because it is only a 5 hour drive to go to Eger or Tokaj and people like visiting these places. Maybe in Warsaw some consumers have a little knowledge of Hungarian wines, but north of Warsaw is different. Poland is a blank page, we have to write on it.
– Can you ship to the north of Poland?
– Of course, I am doing the final touches integrating DHL in the webshop and then we are ready to let Poland know about us. We expect orders from all over the country. We will do our best to promote the webshop and the wines.
– Do you organize tastings?
– Yes, we work together with Marcin Zatorski, a very knowledgeable sommelier. He always comes up with a great topic and conducts these tastings perfectly. Szekszárd tasting, Christmas wine tasting, spring wine tasting – always something else.
– Do you sell wine to restaurants?
– Yes, our wines are present in many good restaurants, for example at Balaton restaurant, a well known restaurant in the main street of the old part of Kraków. They keep a lot of wines from our range. And nowadays there are more and more wine bars since it is quite trendy to meet friends in wine bars. We are very happy with this, because people can taste our wines and get to know them. Sauska, Tornai – just some of our wines that are popular in wine bars. For example there is an excellent restaurant called Alejo’s/ Tapas, grill & wine, certainly they have Spanish and South American wines, but they also keep some of our wines to our great pleasure.
“Everything I do, I do it for you…”
– How do you stay up to date with Hungarian wines?
– For example I read the articles on Hungarianwines.eu.
– You are flattering…
– And also I travel a lot. For example we were in Budapest a month ago with the two owners. We visited one of our favourite places, Kadarka Bar – there is a man working at Kadarka who has Polish family connections, so we can taste wines and learn about them in our mother tongue! So we were there and tasted Cabernet Franc from Havas és Tímár, from Eger. I hadn’t heard of them earlier. That wine, “Franom” as it is called, it was so great…
– I also tasted that wine a month ago at Franc & Franc event, it is one of the 12 gold medal winners of the first Franc du Monde competition. I was fascinated by the wine as well!
– Yes, a fantastic wine – and now it is on our shelf!
– Amazing! So you have all the big names but also hidden gems.
– Indeed, and I try to cover all the wine regions from Somló to Tokaj, Sopron to Kunság. We always have some rosé wines, even though Polish people are not as big fans of rosé wines as for example Hungarians. And our customers look for indigenous varieties, so we can offer them Hárslevelű, Furmint, Juhfark, Kéfrankos and all the others.
– Written text can hardly convey the passion in your voice, but I can say that you are incredible.
– Well, I do my best. I love Hungarian wines and all my friends do, my wife also loves Hungarian wines…
– Does she have other choice?
– Well, no, but seriously, like Bryan Adams says in the song: Everything I do, I do it for – Hungarian wines.