Did you know that Hungary is the third most senior wine-producing country in Europe? Wines have been exported since the 16th century, when the first Tokaj wines were dispatched to Pope Pius IV's cellar.
The industry floundered somewhat during the Iron Curtain era, but now wineries are investing in modern equipment and wine-makers are making better use of the range of soils, from the volcanic basalt slopes of Badacscony on the shore of Lake Balaton to the loess and lymph-covered soil of the Tokaj region.
Specialist wine tours can be arranged through the Hungarian Tourist Office (0171-823 1032) to regions such as Sopron and Balton, Vill ny and Eger - and to the most famous of all, Tokaj, with its unctuous dessert wines. Arlblaster & Clarke (01730 893344) is running a trip to Tokaj in the autumn, 17-21 October, at a cost of £675 per person, based on double occupancy. The tour includes return flights, four nights' accommodation, and all wine tastings. Or you could wait until next year - 1999 is Hungary's Year of Wine and Gastronomy, with festivals galore throughout the country.
Catching up with Canada
If you're not one of the lucky few to get on one of the Ontario Government wine junkets, then consider the wine country holidays that have been put together by the wine region's affable marketing man, Dirk Wiens. He's used to bussing interested trade around the more difficult roads in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula, and knows just everybody.
His newly formed company, Wine Country Tours, will provide everything from single-day visits to multi-day corporate retreats, conferences and private group tours. For details, call: 00 1 905 892 9770.