Tradition, innovation and passion go hand in hand for this pioneering winemaker from Hungary
- You asked for wines from Hungary, we listened. Cecilia Simon is a rockstar with more than 30 years of winemaking experience
- Proud of her roots, but always looking forward. Cecilia is an innovator who likes to put her stamp on elegant dry whites
- Working in the small, unknown regions means she can produce some kick-ass wines for amazing value. Hang onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this woman is a rolling stone.
Map of the Vineyard
"My family for generations have been connected to the soil and agriculture, my interest in this comes from my childhood . With this background it was clear to me to choose an agricultural high school, where my main subject was the vineyard production. During my study I got more and more interest to winemaking so I decided to study at the university food industry specialized in winemaking.
After I started my work in a winery I realised, that customer likes my wines and this got for me an extra motivation to go on this way with full of passion.
I finished my high school education at the beginning of the ’80 in Balatonfüred at the Széchenyi Ferenc Agricultural high school. Right after the graduation I have worked for 1 year at the wine laboratory of the Central Winery of Badacsony. There I had the chance to gain a deep knowledge about the vineyards and wines of the Historical Wine region of North – Transdanubium, because the Winery worked on 5 important wine regions. I acquired the bases of my knowledge about wine making in the wine laboratory.
At the end of the ’80 I had my university degree at the Horticultural and Food Industry University in Kecskemét. After that I started my carrier as the director of the Winery of Csopak. The Cooperative possessed 600 ha white vines on the Historical Wine region of Balatonfüred-Csopak like Olaszrizling, Tramini, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Semillon, Muscat ottonel, Sauvignon blanc. There I had the chance to learn a lot about modern wine making.
In the ’90 due to the political change the vineyards could have again private owners so the central Winery was transformed to an Associated Winery where I continued to work as the director of the winery.
After that I started to work in the smallest wine region of Hungary by a family run winery, the Tornai winery in Somló where the production of historical Hungarian varieties has an important tradition like Juhfark and Furmint.
At the beginning of 2000 I went back to the Balaton Highland as the director of the production of an important winery owned by one of the richest person in Hungary, The Winery of Badacsony. I had to control both the winemaking and grape producing.
From 2010 I am working as chief winemaker of an important winery of the Tolna wine region,.
All different vintage is a new challenge, where I can create something new. The time I spend next the fermenting tanks waiting and to see, how it succeeds to realise my thoughts, is the wine like I dreamed?
I think, the 3 components: tradition, innovation and passion must go hand in hand.
I’m linked to the traditional winemaking, with lot of techniques and approach like our parents, grandparents used to do. But this didn’t inhibit me to look and use new innovations, techniques, materials, etc. We must be open always for news but we should never forget our past and culture. If you are thinking and working like this, connected with a lot of passion, you must be unique and I believe you must be successful.
People often ask which are my favourite wines to make. To be honest I like the white wines better, and the fresh, fruity whites with good acidity. But on the other hand this is true for the aged and big bodied whites too. In case of variety I really prefer Pinot Grigio.
When I was young, at the beginning of my career, as I become director of a big cooperative it was exciting and a big challenge for me.
In Hungary during the communism the main tendency of winemaking was to make sweet or semi-sweet wines for the national and Eastern-European market, like from Pinot Grigio, Tramini and Muscat Ottonel. In 1988 I was among the first that made dry wine from these varieties to show the real value of the varieties their special smell and taste. I was pretty excited to show to the costumers my dry wines during wine tastings. But I was sad to see that the success did not arrive; actually everybody asked why they could not taste the sweet ones? So I was forced to continue to make the sweet wines, but I did not give up, so always tried to show my dry wines. Finally I could gain awards on national and international wine competitions with the dry style that was an important breakthrough for me.
As I started to work in the smallest wine region of Hungary by a family run winery, the Tornai winery in Somló where the production of historical Hungarian varieties has an important tradition like Juhfark and Furmint;. These varieties have very special acidity character and transform to a special wine during long aging. Thanks to my rolling stone personality I attracted again attention to me. I was asked to present the wines of the Tornai winery in a special event hold at the Musem of Arts of Budapest. I wanted to show the wines that I prepared despite they were very young. We had a special harvest in 1999 so in the May of 2000 I was sure, that the wines were complex and harmonious. Among the public there were wine journalists, restaurant owners, sommeliers and some famous person. Before tasting the wines, looking to the wine list I heard the following: who is that crazy woman that presents such young wines from Somló? But when they tasted the wines they had a great success, so I started to be an appreciated winemaker not only among the professionals but larger circles too. This event was a turning point in my career.
I am so excited to start receiving direct feedback from the Angels – I love that unique chance that Naked Wines offers. This contact is usually lost in other ways of selling my wines, so I am thrilled for the chance to talk to the drinkers of my wines directly."
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