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Destiny, inherited

The story of our vines

I was born in Tállya, Tokaj, and I guess this was the beginning and the end for me when it comes to making wine. This may sound like I was born into a legacy, however not the case at all. My grandparents (and their parents) grew up amongst vines, but they were not winemakers. My grandfather worked in the local quarry his whole life, and my grandmother was grafting vines, and rootstocks. The family had a 2-hectare parcel, it served as extra income. 

When I lost my mother as a child, I was spending a lot of time with my grandparents. Between grafting, cultivating, and growing vines, my grandmother has also "grafted me", and my love for nature, plants and grapes. Their home was my safe place, and the memories of them have forever imprinted in me.

As they grew old, they started to have less and less strength to care for the vines and the cellar. The barrels stood empty, and bit by bit, they started to sell the parcels, once held so dear. By the end, the only one left was Ötvenhold, a tiny, 0.3 hectare area.

"Let's sell." - said my grandmother, as she could not keep working the land by herself. Her trusted workers, Vilma néni and Rózsalac, grew old too, and she had no help. I was shocked, and suddenly felt like I had no roots, nothing to hold me. 
I realised I am not lost. I belong, here in Tokaj. The Ötvenhold parcel, planted by my dear grandparents, were my roots are, running deep, providing me with the force I need to hold onto their vision, to keep their gifts, and legacy alive. 

In 2010, I moved back, And I was home again. I was lucky that destiny gave me a wonderful partner, almost as a reassurance, that I am indeed doing, what I was meant to. Our winery named Szolo (a small wordplay with the words solo - to be alone and szőlő - grape in Hungarian), but it would not be up and running without the support of my husband. 
We grow every year, and started to work with more areas than we can necessarily take. I do believe in less is more, not only when it comes to farming, but winemaking also. We are certified biodynamic, and I try to work with as little intervention as possible. 
I love using traditional barrels, but I am also a big fan of clay amphoras, and concrete eggs.  

Our goal was to create one wine from each parcel, and show the true beauty and colours of Tokaj. Perhaps this is not the easiest way of making wine, but through this hardships we can truly be free in what we create and show. 

The variability of parcel, vintages, and grapes can be a little taunting at first, but definitely a fantastic experience for those, who spend some time getting to know the wines. 

We have a long road ahead of us, with lots to learn and to do, but we believe in constant improvement, development and learning. 

As our fantastic cooper said, "I gave myself life-sentence". But as long as I can, I am committed to making wine (even if it is from those 0.3 hectares. This is my legacy, after and for my grandmother, I keep holding the light. 

/Tímea Éless/

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