I was born at the foot of the Tokaj hill, in the beautiful village of Rátka in 1956. My first memories of vines and grapes are from when I was about 5-6 years old. We were going to the vineyard, I remember having to walk miles, and once we were there instead of taking care of me, my parents put me in a sack and hung me from a quince tree making sure I was out of the way. Even though thinking back it all seems a little cruel, those are my first and most beautiful childhood memories, watching 80-120 years old vines rooted in the volcanic soil and the dangling, smirking grapes of Furmint, the signature Tokaj grape variety, has been imprinted in my mind forever.
Fate took care of me in my teens, I turned up in Tokaj and ended up learning to be a grape grower and winemaker, interestingly in the same school my Uncle had studied in before leaving the country for Australia. No wonder then why my son, Szabolcs, attended the very same institution years later.
I have been working with wine since 1975. I married my wife, Kata, in 1978 and with her we received 450 vines-stocks from my father-in-law, as a wedding gift. Kata has been with me all through the years and if it is up to me she stays with me for the rest of my days.
Our daughter, Angelika was born in 1979 and 4 years later our son, Szabolcs joined our little family unit.
My first job was at the largest state wine company in Tokaj, where we had to deal with enormous quantities of grapes. There was 65,000 tons of grapes and 12,000 'aszu' berries to process at every harvest. It was horrible! It was madness! Knowing that making Tokaj wine should be (and should have been) like making a jewel, that the result has to be unique and inimitable, there is no point trying to substitute quantity for quality.
I then started to work for the French-owned Disznókő Winery. in 1992, and what a great change that was! I had to learn all about team work, how to drive a forklift and relearn how to wash tanks, the difference in attitude towards winemaking was staggering! My old job looked like sitting on a train with a driver in a separate compartment and a timetable with no options for change according to the circumstances of the journey. In contrast at the new firm everybody followed how grapes turned from vines into wines ending their beautiful journey on the table of our consumers.
I met my future business partner, Krisztián Sauska and his wife, Andrea just before the Millenium, in 1999. The Arvay and the Sauska families owned the Tokaj based Arvay and Co. Ltd. from 2000 till the end of 2008.
While working elsewhere, our own vineyard kept growing from the initial 450 vines into a 15 hectare wineyard by 1999.
My family moved back to my place of birth, Rátka at the beginning of 2009, where we set up the Árvay Family Winery (Árvay and Árvay Ltd.) to proudly develop our own range of Tokaj wines.
We had arrived home.
Our vineyard is now 17 hectare, naturally most of it is in the Rátka region including the vines we received as a wedding gift and our parents' ancestral vineyards. It is interesting to see that things related to my childhood memories are the things I appreciate most nowadays: small-clustered grape variety, the volcanic soil - I can get lost for hours in the selecting of stones, rocks, the mystical relationship with certain parcels of land or my love for the mountain peaks.
On top of the hills, surrounded by vines acting as protective guards, feeling the caressing breeze, hearing bees bumbling, it is easy to feel like God for a moment.
This is what Tokaj wine and Rátka has to offer.
2000 - Winemaker of the Year, Tokaj region
2000 - Knight's Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
2003 - Winemaker of the Year, Hungary
Pannon Wine Guild
Hungarian Wine Academy