THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME “SZÜRKEBARÁT”

The following summary is an abstract from Kálmán Káloczi’s book entitled “About the terminology of Szürkebarát wine”.
HOW HAS THE AUVERGNAS GRIS BECOME SZÜRKEBARÁT IN HUNGARY?
The word “Szürkebarát” as a name for wines was born in the 1930’s at the Badacsony Eszterházy estate with the help of Vilmos Krassay, an acknowledged farm manager.

The Badacsony Eszterházy wine estate was the largest at Upper Lake Balaton and it was an estate which was able to provide a name, value and fame for this excellent quality pure-bred wine.

They were rightly proud of ther relationship with the Order of St. Paul, both in family and local relations on Badacsony Hill and when the Order returned to Hungary in the 1930’s, they gave the appropriate Szürkebarát name to their wine.

THE ROLE OF FARM MANAGER VILMOS KRASSAY
Between the two world wars the Eszterházy family found a wayout of their financial difficulties by bottling their wines. In 1930 the whole vintage was put on the market in bottles. They started the distribution of their wines outside Europe, even in the USA. Mr Krassay said that it was impossible to sell their wines under a name which was hard to pronounce and translate and which could not be related to the Hungarian language. Moreover, it was difficult to transport it to Germany or Austria or even to America with a French name. (French was a language of the Antant group.) It happened then that the name “szürkebarát” was given to Overni or officially to the Auvergnas gris, more precisely to the wine made from this type.
THE ROLE OF THE PAULINE ORDER
Between the two world wars the Eszterházy family found a wayout of their financial difficulties by bottling their wines. In 1930 the whole vintage was put on the market in bottles. They started the distribution of their wines outside Europe, even in the USA. Mr Krassay said that it was impossible to sell their wines under a name which was hard to pronounce and translate and which could not be related to the Hungarian language. Moreover, it was difficult to transport it to Germany or Austria or even to America with a French name. ( French was a language of the Antant group) It happened then that the name “szürkebarát” was given to Overni or officially to the Auvergnas gris, more precisely to the wine made from this type.
The original colour of the Pauline monks’ frocks was the same grey as the colour of the grape a fact that contributed to the name-giving and the presence of the Paulines, who had settled down on Badacsony Hill and the excellence of former Pauline frair, Imre Eszterházy, then an archbishop and primate, also played a significant role in the name-giving.
Time has verified this idea of naming: both the name and the wine have become very popular
THE EARLIEST LITERARY OCCURRENCE OF SZÜRKEBARÁT
The Szürkebarát wine name can be first read in Miklós Radnóti’s poem “Á la recherche” in 1944.

The recollection starts with the first stanza:
“Gentle past evenings, you too are ennobled through recollection!
Brilliant table adorned by poets and their young women,
Where have you slid in the mud of the memory? Where is the night
when the exuberant friends still merrily drank the native wine of the land
from slender glasses that sparkled their glances?”
(English literary translation taken from Babel Web Anthology )

This wine definitely meant a lot to the poet. He married Fanni Gyarmati in the August of 1935 and they spent their honeymoon in Kővágóörs at Upper Lake Balaton region, accepting the invitation of fellow poet Imre Szalai.
Poet Tibor Fonay wrote about Radnóti’s stay at the lake in his poem “Radnóti in Kővágóörs.” He also mentioned their wine-tasting in Fülöp, which was part of Kővágóörs until 1943.

This poem, which represents happiness, originates from their experiences in Kővágóörs before 1940. This village is only 10 kilometers from Badacsony, where the Esztreházy vineyard wine-growers’ shop could be found.

In 1956 this grape variety was permitted to be placed on the market and later on it got state recognition in 1983. The Szürkebarát (a.k.a Pinot Gris) is a very popular grape variety together with its clones, which were worked out experimentally by the Badacsony Research Institute for Viniculture.