Hungary’s most western wine region, Sopron makes the best of the recent situation: instead of moaning over the loss they put all their effort into renewal, which they badly need indeed.
Waking up the sleeping beauty
About 15 years ago Sopron was probably the most active wine region in the country. Versatile programs were offered to visitors cleverly tailored to the needs of each group. Foodies, families, sport lovers, history geeks – they all fcould ind something to do in Sopron region, and of course wine played the main role. Sopron’s annual wine marketing conference with national and international speakers was the icing on the cake. Then everything had changed, the active people were gone. Sopron turned into a sleeping town: a large proportion of the habitants work in the neighbouring Austria, they work all day and go to bed at home instead of going out. Plus the majority of the visitors come from Austria – and not for sightseeing, but for benefiting from the lower prices at the dentist or hairdresser. They also return home by night. Sopron wine region wants to attract winelovers again, and keep them within the region for a while. To do so they only need to communicate what they have: a stunning landscape with Lake Fertő (Neusiedler See), fascinating wines grown on diverse soil, the historic town of Sopron, and many gems to discover, like the tiny town of Kőszeg with its ambitious young winemakers.
Hard times to take action
The restart of Sopron wine marketing was initiated by Sopron Council of the Wine Communities, Sopron Wine Route and Effix-Marketing team – mostly as a voluntary action. Kurt Taschner, winemaker of Sopron commented the renewal of Sopron wine marketing: “Me, just like the other wine producers welcome the initiative and wish the best. We are sorry for them to introduce the new concept in the worst possible season, in times of crisis. And of course we must add that even the best ideas need financial support, we hope that the wine region will receive some kind of subsidy to survive.” Kurt Taschner sells wines – among others – to airline companies WizzAir and Ryanair, his Chardonnay is served in every flight – in normal times. Now only the deficit accummulates, therefore support is really needed. Kurt also adds: “We, winemakers should also improve in quality, without great wines no wine marketing can succeed.”
The battle is ahead of us
Ákos Molnár, one of the “engines” behind the new marketing strategy (and president of Sopron Council of Wine Communities) agrees: Sopron wine regions has countless historic and cultural places of interest, and these must be connected to wine – but first the leaders of the town and the country should agree with this concept. As for the details of the strategy, Ákos Molnár did not want to reveal details, because first they must be discussed with the winemakers themselves, and it was not possible during lockdown. “I keep saying that the value of the wineries as a tourist attraction is much more than the wineries can pay as city tax.” Ákos also mentions Kőszeg and its surroundings as an attraction: “People often think of Sopron town when speaking about the wine region, but in fact this region is much bigger and it includes ‘Vaskeresztes’ sub-wine region. It makes sense to keep visitors within the region and to recommend wineries, programmes of each other’s subregion.” Another argument beside Sopron comes from an ancient document, as Tamás Taschner, Kurt’s brother claims, who happens to be a tour guide and an enthusiastic member of the wine marketing team: “Sopron is probably the oldest wine region in Hungary. Zárány or Zagersdorff is 10 kms from Sopron, and here grape seeds were found in ancient Celtic tombs from 700 BC.” (Read more in German.)
The new logo
The first visible sign of the new concept is the new logo. The creators believe that it is essential to avoid cliches typical of the region, therefore instead of one emblem of Sopron, they emphasize the diversity and the trinity of the region (Sopron, Kőszeg–Vaskeresztes and Lake Fertő). Three subregions, three types soil structure, three climates. And of course like every logo it should be easy to recognize and easy to use in different layouts.