Helikon Taverna is not a traditional wine museum: interactive exhibition hall, tasting venue in the scene of a story fit for a movie
In recent years Vonyarcvashegy has seriously entered the competition to again become the most exciting place on the north shore of Lake Balaton – and not only from spring to autumn. We say ‘again’ because for a long time it was one of the determining players of the north shore, in the 80s the locality was loud of underground parties, later of a legendary disco. Then this period ended, and for a while it appeared that Vonyarc was only kept alive by its popular beach.
Later it turned out that the momentum didn’t fade. We also tested their four star hotel with a panoramic view, and this is also where Bock Bisztró opened a franchise restaurant. And since October 2013, the resort has been enriched by another notable establishment. The „Festetics Helikon Taverna winery and gastronomy exhibition” means a renovated, famous wine cellar, a wine specialty shop and an interactive museum.
This isn’t a conventional wine museum, where all the excitement is exhausted by the exhibited objects in showcases and the texts suspended on the walls which you don’t read all the way to the end anyway. There is such here as well, e.g. you can view the relics of local wine culture, but only as much as you can absorb, most of the information can be learned from a touch screen panel and a 3D movie theatre. You will be surprised, because you will be given a story that would fit the movies, if you read it.
Specifically, the cellar is 400 years old. It was part of the estate of one of Hungary’s most influential noble families, the Festetics family and functioned as a wine-press house. The wines prepared here – mostly reiseling – have collected a significant number of awards all across Europe. But what is even more exciting than this, is the story of how the Princess of Monaco was brought here, for whom and for what price she abandoned her husband and the wondrous life there, to spend the pleasant summer and early autumn days in the wine-press house that she named “Taverna”. We will not reveal it, if you are interested, you can find more detailed information here, but it is best if you take a look personally.
If perhaps you can’t imagine what life was like here in the 19th century, some enthusiastic people have made a merry grape harvest scene - of legos. The grape stocks, barrels, as well as a carriage and the Princess.
And if you are already here, it’s worth tasting the best wines of the region (there are bottled wines from Tokay and Villány as well). The party begins at 7 pm, but they are flexible, if you make an appointment, you can come by to drink at any time. Together with the Foundation for Balaton Wine Culture they organize wine clubs and wine dinners as well, where not only Balaton winemakers are invited.
This is another reason to make Vonyarcvashegy your base at Lake Balaton.
Photos: Péter Bódai and Zenit Hotel Balaton
Festetics Helikon Taverna Winery and Gastronomy Exhibition
Vonyarcvashegy, Helikon utca 22.
Business hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 1 pm - 6pm, from 7 pm organized wine tasting