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Press arrow Are Power Plants and Scheming Slovaks Really The Most Pressing Issues Facing Tokaj Winemakers?
Are Power Plants and Scheming Slovaks Really The Most Pressing Issues Facing Tokaj Winemakers?
It doesn't quite make the "three examples and it's a trend" rule, but over the last few days there have been two bits of public controversy surrounding the Tokaj wine region. First, on Monday came the news that Slovakia had sneakily arranged to have the small wine region that sits just over the border from Hungary's Tokaj entered into the EU's official registry as "Tokaj," despite what many here assumed was an earlier agreement that they would only tack similar-sounding adjectives ("Tokajsky" / "Tokajská" / "Tokajské") on to the name of the wines produced there. 

Even though the Agriculture Ministry said that they assumed it was all just a mistake, the local winemakers' council is demanding that the government take immediate action to prevent the Slovaks from claiming that the wine they call Tokaj is in fact, Tokaj.

Meanwhile, a winemaker from the region yesterday forwarded us a press release about an open letter that local vintners and others have sent to Culture Minister István Hiller demanding that the government halt the planned construction of a straw-fueled power plant in the region. Apparently the government needs to decide by next February what to do about the plan, which opponents say would mortally threaten the area's UNESCO World Heritage status.

Without dismissing either issue as wholly bogus, are they really worth so much fuss? From what we understand, the winemaking business out in Tokaj is sort of like the airline business, meaning that as a whole it manages to lose money in both good years and bad. Compared to this it's hard to see how a few thousand bottles of confusingly-labeled Slovak wine or a smokestack or two are anything but a distraction from the more important work of making decent wine at decent prices, and figuring out a cheap and effective way to market the region as a whole. Time to focus, people.



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