The fact that the wine growers built the cellars in the city proper, under their own houses rather than in the vineyards, also contributes to the charm and uniqueness of the Sopron Wine Region, also referred to as the “eccentric wine region”. At the time, this meant not only a privilege but also provided greater protection for the producers.
The Sopron Wine Region is home to the largest blue Frankish plantation in the country, an area of about 1,000 hectares covering two-thirds of the wine region. The best-known grape varieties in the wine region are Green Veltliner, Chardonnay, Savignon Blanc, Oliver Irsai, Royal Maiden (királyleányka), Zenith, Tramini, Blue Frankish, Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz.
Visitors to Sopron will most probably come across the terms poncichter and Buschenschank.
The name poncichter is derived from the German word Bohnenzüchter, which translates to English as bean grower. The local vineyards grew beans among the wine stocks, and consumed various dishes made from beans. A poncichter's life was entirely tied to the land. Their daily schedules were determined by the ever-changing weather. They sticked to their traditions, as this was the way they learned it from their ancestors. In their work, they used the same methods and the same tools as their ancestors did. Their lives revolved around the flowering of the vines, the pruning, harvesting and the winter pig-killing events, as this cycle was the one that controlled the lives of all those who were engaged in farming. Better or worse, but they managed to live off the land.
In Sopron, the basis of a poncichter’s life was the family. It was the man’s job to take care of the family's financial and economic affairs. The wives ran the household, while also working in the vineyard and the wine shop. In summer, taking care of the children was the duty of the grandparents, as the parents would work in the vineyard throughout the summer. Very few children from these families continued their education at higher levels.
Wine growing used to include other work processes, too. Traditional wine growing began with pulling out the stakes, a procedure unknown today. Back then, the harvest was in November, so this work was greatly affected by the weather. After pulling out the stakes, the careful farmer also trampled the stalks and covered the vines with earth to protect the roots from the harsh winter conditions. The work with the stakes was carried out by girls and women. The men, meanwhile, were digging the ground, which required great physical effort.
In the Buschenschanks (wine taverns), even today, a pine branch (Busch), a straw wreath, a white or coloured ribbon or, sometimes a bottle or a cross is hung over the entrance to indicate what the visitor may order inside.
Walking in the so-called Poncichter district, i.e. around Balfi Street, Gazda Street, Szentlélek Street and Szent Mihály Street, you can experience the lives of old farmers even today.
On the the www.soproniborvidek.hu website (to be launched soon), you can find further interesting information and learn about the local winemakers too!