(By George Webber | Special to The Sun). There are many similarities between the cities of Sonoma and Tokaj, Hungary: volcanic soil, an extremely pleasant climate, and, of course, the wine that thrives on these attributes. We also share the same astonishing man, Count Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian winemaker who founded Buena Vista Winery in 1857.
It was in November of 2011 when a high level delegation from Hungary visited Buena Vista Winery, and the idea of forming a Sister City between Tokaj and Sonoma was hatched. This process proceeded quickly, and since May of 2012, Sonoma and Tokaj have enjoyed the results of this interesting and fun exercise in citizen diplomacy.
In 2012 a delegation from Tokaj was hosted here in Sonoma, and in 2013 a Sonoma delegation journeyed to Hungary, and was hosted in turn by the Tokaj-Sonoma Association. Delegates stayed at private homes, and were ferried around Tokaj, enjoying dinners, winery tours, and cultural events.
Future cooperative endeavors between Sonoma and Tokaj were planned, the most important being the creation of a wine student exchange program between our two wine cities. This plan came to fruition in August of 2013 when Mate Kerekes, a Tokaj resident studying viniculture, arrived in Sonoma and spent four months working at Buena Vista Winery.
On April 24, the Sonoma-Tokaj Sister City Committee will hold its annual update and reception at Buena Vista Winery from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There will be complimentary Buena Vista wine and Hungarian-themed appetizers.
“The purpose of the event is to showcase all of the great work that the Sonoma-Tokaj committee has accomplished in the past year,” said Sylvia Toth, committee co-chair. “We have a lot of activities to be proud of, and want to share the news with friends and supporters of the Sister Cities program, and have a fun evening as well.”
All Sonomans interested in our Hungarian Sister City, Tokaj, and our joint programs are invited, Toth said, “as well as any local Hungarians, and people interested in Buena Vista Winery. If you speak Hungarian but haven’t in a while, this will be the perfect event for you.”
For more information on the Sonoma-Tokaj Sister City Committee contact Toth at 917.592-5070 or Jtoth@newonline.org.