Bavarians at Heart gamble their lives on the ‘Bordeaux of the East’
Evelyne and Erhard Heumann, own the small wine estate Heumann, located in the western Villány, the so called “Bordeaux of the East”. Referring to themselves as “Bavarians at heart,” the Swiss-German couple couple met in 1973 aboard a Greyhound bus in Las Vegas and gambled everything on building a life together. In 1995 the opportunity came to lease a 40-year-old vineyard in Villany and they again chanced their luck. After 20 years as amateur vintners they decided to turn Heumann into a fully-fledged commercial winery and full-time venture, leaving their other careers behind.
How we found them/How Richard found them: I had met Erhard a few times in different places and loved his Bavarian slant on a country which is traditionally very different to Western Europe. Making wine from three grapes that are also produced in Germany and Austria (Riesling, Kekfrankos/ Blaufränkisch and Syrah) adds a different character to many of the Hungarian wines you simply can’t pronounce.
Evelyne’s family connection Hungary meant that she had long known and appreciated the country’s landscape and wines. Her father at some point moved to Villany to start a chimney-making business. While this project never came into fruition, the family did fall in love with the region and built a holiday home there. Evelyne kept coming back and, after marrying Erhard, passed on her passion for Hungary to her husband. The family made their first wine in 1996. By 2003, they had accumulated 3 hectares of vineyards and started to plan their full-time dedication to the project. The estate is currently composed of 15 hectares, 90 % of our which is classified under the Premium status of the DHC (Districtus Hungaricus Controllatus) Villány-Siklós. Their winery is small and functional and Erhard insists that most investment needs to made in the vineyard.
The Heumanns are firm believers on the particular potential of Villany’s limestone and dolomite terroir to produce elegant, single-varietal red wines. They ‘ve been keen promoters of Cabernet Franc and Kekfrankos (Blaufränkisch) as the flagship varieties of the region. They also grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer, in a clear nod to their German roots. The family also believes in letting the terroir shine with the subtle use of larger format Hungarian oak. Erhard indeed adores his Riesling and Kekfrankos (Blaufränkisch)– both of which are shining examples of wines made without oak.
Location: Villany, Hungary
Working with us since: 2016
Total area under vine: 15 hectares
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Rajnai Riesling
Interesting fact: The Heumann’s son is a qualified oenologist now working for the family business. Their wines have consistently won and/or ranked at the top three for ‘Best Wine of Hungary’ for years now.