The Robin Hood of the Transylvanian forests

Interview with Zoltán Szövérdfi-Szép, the speaker of the Romanian masterclass
Zoltán Szövérdfi-Szép is one our jury members and he is the founder, the heart and the lungs of RoVinHud, a fabulous annual charity wine event in Timișoara / Temesvár, Romania. At Winelovers Wine Awards Zoltán will conduct a masterclass of Romanian wines – now he tells us what we can expect at the tasting. But he tells us more: he also explains the beginnings, how he raised enough money for the first bus for the disabled.

– So, what your masterclass will focus on?
– The masterclass will focus on the flagship variety of Romania: Fetească Neagră / Fekete Leányka, an old red variety which originates from the eastern part of the country, even though nice legends say that it would be an ancient Dacian domesticated grape, or it was the favorite wine of King Mátyás and originates from Transylvania, no evidence was found for these legends. I will try to show the different faces of the grape, different styles including the only one existing biodynamic Fetească Neagră! It will be an interesting line up with wines from the different parts of the country.

"It is still unbelievable"

 – Where did this passion come from? How have you become a wine person?
– My passion started in Timisoara, where I joined the Hungarian wine club and fell in love with wine. But I was infected with the bug by Dr. Mészáros Gabriella, who also guided me through the 3 WSET levels in Budapest (at that time we didn’t have WSET schools in Romania). 
After graduating I was thinking of how I could give back to the community what I have learned, so in 2011 I started to organize charity tastings to raise funds for the therapies of children with disabilities. And when the local wine community grew enough, we organized the first edition of ROVINHUD Wine Show in 2014, 100% volunteering with the aim to use the profit to buy an accessible minibus for people with disabilities. It is still unbelievable how nicely the wine and disability met and how amazingly wine can help to solve social problems.

Zoltán Szövérdfi-Szép – organising and pouring wines

– You are preparing for the 10th RoVinHud Wine Show in November 2024. How much has the Romanian wine scene changed during these 10 years?
– In 2014 ROVINHUD Wine Show was the first wine festival selecting the exhibitors and organized quality masterclasses. After 10 years almost in every big city at least one wine festival is organized, in some cities there are two events or more. Of course, in Bucharest there are 4-5 similar events. Also, the quality of the wines increased a lot. 10 years ago the market was full of semi-sweet red wines, today we can hardly find any semi-sweet Fetească Neagră. What is more, several small, 4-6 ha wineries appeared, and this phenomenon increased the quality of the wines, and the huge producers had to focus on high quality wines as well, not only on the mass entry level production.
– Is there an official Romanian wine marketing? If yes, how efficient is it?
– The biggest problem of the industry that there is no wine marketing. The producers try to create something, but usually without vision and long-term planning. But it is hard to do so in the context of a very unstable political scene, ministers are changed after 1-2 years and the big majority of politicians are incompetent. 

Success story led by a lonely fighter

– Romanian wines are represented with the highest number at Winelovers Wine Awards. In the United Kingdom Romania is among the countries with the most sold wines (according to the survey by the Independent Wine Merchant). It seems that Romanian wineries are ambitious and they also put time and money into their export efforts. So can we say that it is a success story?
– We can say that the export strategy of Recas Winery is a success story. They represent more than 60% of the Romanian export and this is because Mr. Philip Cox, the co-owner and brain of the winery.
The producers are comfortable with the local market, because for the time being they can sell almost everything locally. But this period will end shortly, because the imports are growing and the prices of imported wines will push down the prices of local wines as well.  
– Tell us a few more words about your masterclass. Perhaps you have not put the wine list together completely, but I am sure you can mention some highlights. Why will this masterclass be unmissable?
– The pandemic showed us that nothing is unmissable in terms of wine and at certain point we have many other priorities. But Fetească Neagră is somehow a hidden gem, I am sure the audience hasn't had the occasion to taste a nice range of it. Of course, Balla Géza is a big star in Hungary and probably every wine consumer tasted at least once his Sziklabor Feketeleányka, which is a great wine, but there are so many more, with different styles to try.

Save the date of the 10th RoVinHud!

– Finally, back to RoVinHud: you have already announced the date of the jubilee event: 15–17 November, 2024. Do you have any speakers confirmed or any ideas to celebrate the 10th wine show?
– Of course, we have We have fixed the dates with Caro Maurer MW two years ago. 
We focus a lot on the quality of the event in the exhibition room and masterclass room as well. This is the reason why we invite our speakers at least one year earlier.
We already have 3 Masters of Wine confirmed and I am waiting for other answers as well.
And I am so grateful for all these amazing wine experts because they also work pro-bono in order to support our aim. After 2023, this year we raise again funds for the therapies of children with disabilities.
More information about RoVinHud



Upcoming key dates

  • 18 June 2024 Entry deadline
  • 28 June 2024 Judging
  • 28 June 2024 Masterclasses and exclusive tastings
  • 29 June 2024 Judging

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