The relationship between Saint Donat and the grapes from Csopak are a Central European legacy, accompanying our vineyards’ past from ancient Rome, through the Middle Ages up until the monarchy.
St.Donat and Rome
Our estate’s namesake Saint Donat (Szent Donát) was born in Rome around 140 A.D. His parents raised him in the Christian faith, which at the time was prohibited/ on sufferance. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the empire’s army, and thanks to his talent, he soon became one of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’s personal bodyguards. His Christian faith was common knowledge within the legion, and as a religious leader he also had followers. During the Marcomannic Wars his legion was sent to Pannonia. In the summer of 173 they crossed the Danube and along the Garam moving north, they fell into the enemy’s trap in a narrow valley. In order to save the thirsty and exhausted legion, Donat asked the Christian God for help. After his prayer, an intense storm swept through, bringing rain down upon the legion and heavy hail upon the enemy. The enemy retreated and the Roman legion escaped. The news of the miracle spread quickly. Empire propaganda associated the intervention with the god Jupiter, but the Christian Donat did not accept this. He was executed as a result of his defiance. His followers sent his body back to Rome, where he was buried in the catacombs of Saint Agnes church, built for the early Christian martyrs.
Csopak and Rome
The vineyards of Csopak have been tilled since Saint Donat’s time. The first vines were planted by legion veterans like Donat. Wine production for trade began in the second century, when the northern Italian patrician Claudius’s family arrived, and started merging estates. They founded their villa economy in Baláca, which is located near Csopak. The estate had 10.000 hectares of land, which covered nearly half of the Balaton Highlands’ fertile lands. Grain, cotton and wine production provided thousands of people with work. The estate’s center, protected by a stone wall, spread out across 9 hectares, upon which massive private and industrial buildings stood. The vines spread out over the areas known as Csopak and Paloznak today. Wine was transported in locally made amphoras within Pannonia, and even further beyond that for the legions.
Saint Donat and Csopak
Saint Donat’s Roman gravesite vanished over the centuries and remained untouched for over a thousand years. In 1646 however, it was rediscovered. Pope Innocent X canonized him, and his relics were donated to the Jesuits of Muenster Eifel. His popularity increased and he became the protector of the vines along the Rhine. His cult was brought back to the Csopak region during Maria Theresa’s rule by south German settlers, and with support from the church, soon became the patron saint of the local vines.
The tale reached full circle after 2000 years. Saint Donat became famous after the miracle in Pannonia, and finally became the guardian of the very grapes that his comrades planted in Csopak.
Egyházi 1000 év
A római kort követően a csopaki szőlőkről legközeleb a Magyar Királyság kezdetén hallunk, amikor Csopak dűlői a tihanyi bencések és a veszprémi püspökség befolyásának köszönhetően gyorsan egyházi kézbe kerültek és közel 1000 évig főleg papi birtokok maradtak. Az első ismert szőlőadományozás 1079-ben történt Paloznakon. Az erről fennmaradt oklevélben a gyermektelen Guden lovag kéri királyát, Szent Lászlót egy németek ellen vívott hadjárat előtt, hogy halála esetén szőlői ne a királyhoz, hanem a paloznaki plébániához kerüljenek. Guden maghagyja, hogy az adományért cserébe évi egy misét kér a plébániától a saját lelki üdvéért. A plébánia utolsó megmaradt szőlője és pincéje ma a Slikker-dűlőben található. Az itt termett bor tizede a plébániát illeti, mely a paloznaki templom misebora. Guden lelki üdvéért minden október harmadik szombatján tartanak misét.