History of Somló
The castle perched atop Somló Hill is first mentioned in a charter drawn up in 1093, and documents pertaining to wine production in the area date back to 1135. The quality of grapes grown on Somló’s fast-draining soils were noted for their excellence even earlier by ancient Romans. There are three chapels on the hill as well, dedicated to St. Martin, St. Margaret, and St. Ilona, respectively. These buildings were erected in the 14th century. In 1570, records show that a group of 121 local vintners paid “hill toll” taxes to conquering Ottoman forces. Then, on February 27, 1629, Somló’s first wine law was enacted. The statute defined fines to be levied against various offenders. Decrees from 1743, 1803, and 1864 regulated the purchasing and selling vineyard plots. These dictums also defined the cultural hierarchy of winemaking positions; the lowest rank was the simple “vine shepherd“, followed by the “master“ with the “magistrate” above him. The highest position was that of the “president”. Significant, detailed accounts of Somló wine region were published in 1736 and in 1836, but the most useful to us today is “A Nagy Somló hegyről“ (“Of the Great Somló Hill”), a treatise written in 1848 by the local Chief Medical Officer. In it, Somló was clearly identified as distinct from other wine-producing areas west of the Danube, not only geographically but also in terms of its ownership structure, the techniques of local vintners, and the taste of its wines.