Who will be the Winemaker of the Year 2020?

Who will win out of the five nominees? The contest is probably more exciting than ever. Badacsony is a wine region out of the 22, which has never received the prestigious title, even though the mountain has an international fame and it bears the love of local winelovers. Maybe now?

The Hungarian “wine Oscar”

The Winemaker of the Year title has been the most prestigious and most important in Hungary since its foundation in 1991. There is another important prize called Winemaker of the Winemakers, which might be more respected within the trade – since in this latter one the winemakers themselves select the best among them. However, nationwide the Winemaker of the Year by Hungarian Wine Academy is “The Prize” which brings fame and fortune for the winner. Its marketing and economic benefit cannot be underestimated.


The 2020 nominees and some expectations

The contest has two turns. In the first one some 300 wine people are asked to name 3 winemakers who deserve the title (I, the editor of, am one of the 300). This year the nominees are Tamás Borbély (Badacsony), Mihály Figula Jr (Balatonfüred-Csopak), István Ipacs-Szabó (Villány), Zsolt Liptai (Pannonhalma), Beáta Nyúlné Dr. Pühra (Etyek–Buda). In the second turn the members of the Hungarian Wine Academy vote for one of the 5 nominees, and the winner is announced on the 4th December.

– Sopron – zero

If you look at our map above, you will see the six great Hungarian wine regions. Sopron is the only one with zero winners, which is quite surprising, considering the rich tradition of Sopron wines. It is a pity, we hope that the new Sopron wine marketing team will help putting Sopron in the limelight – producers like Kurt Taschner definitely deserve it.

– Villány – the leader

No wonder, the pioneer of the post communist wine era, Villány is on the top along with Szekszárd. Even now we have István Ipacs-Szabó among the nominees, and what is great in his nomination, is that a winemaker can be recognized even if his name is not identical with the name of the winery. Traditionally, if you look at the list of the 29 winners, you will see that in most cases the winner is the owner / heard of the estate – just think of József Bock, Attila Gere, Vilmos Thummerer, Ferenc Vesztergombi, Tamás Dúzsi, Vencel Garamvári, János Frittmann or Csaba Koch. István Ipacs-Szabó has been the chief winemaker of Vylyan Vineyard and Winery ever since the beginning, the reputation of the winery highly depends on his talent – though in case of Vylyan the estate manager, Mónika Debreczeni is also a wine expert with great knowledge.

Ipacs-Szabo and Debreczeni from Vylyan
István Ipacs-Szabó and Mónika Debreczeni of Vylyan Vineyard and Winery in Villány

– Etyek – another lady?

The North-Transdanubian region has 4 winners, two from Etyek–Buda and two from Neszmély – here Ákos Kamocsay, the winemaker who was selected the Winemaker of the Year in the UK in the same year. Pannonhalma wine region belongs to this broader wine region, and Zsolt Liptai is included in the nominees. His winery, the Pannonhalma Archabbey Winery with stunning wines like Infusio can brig the first victory for Pannonhalma. And if Beáta Nyúlné Dr. Pühra wines from Nyakas Winery, we will have the second women winnery after Éva Gálné Dignisz from Gál Winery in Kunság wine region.

– Badacsony – maybe the first ever?

Balaton broader wine region is huge, it includes 6 wine regions (or wine districts as the Hungarian Tourism Agency introduced a new term), and still there are only 3 winners. If we halve the lake, the North side has only one winner, the late Mihály Figula. His son is nominated now, if he wins, it will be the first family with two winners. But probably the nominee with “the more odds” now is Tamás Borbély from Badacsony. The volcanic wine region is one of the most popular among wine drinkers, still there is no winner yet. Tamás Borbély himself has been nominated 9 times! He is the Leonardo DiCaprio of Hungarian wine life… He – like all the other 4 – deserves the prize for his humble and hard work to elevate Olaszrizling wines to a higher level.

We can hardly wait for the result and congratulate to all the 5 nominees!

Browse the list of winners so far


Tamás Borbély (Photo by Zsolt Szigetváry)
Tamás Borbély (Photo by Zsolt Szigetváry)

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