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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

Tábor István: “I think it is time to learn more about Ukrainian wines. Winelovers Wine Award is ready to make your wines more recognized!”


Drinks+ spoke to Tabor Istvan, chief executive of the Winelovers Wine Awards. Our editor-in-chief Olga Pinevich-Todoryuk, as last year, was invited to the team of judges of the competition, and participation is free for Ukrainian winemakers. The event will take place in Budapest on June 28-30.

Considering all info listed in your website, can you, however, define the key special features of Winelovers Wine Awards? What makes it different from other international contests?

Winelovers Wine Awards is not only a competition, but a complete project that includes an international wine contest, a 3-day-event with several trade related side events focusing on Central Eastern European countries, and online wine magazine and social media. This focus on the CEE countries is our special feature and it is going to be more and more feasible in the future. I am being honest with you: in the first two years we had fancy topics of the masterclasses (side events of the contest), and the winelover public as well as the jury members were happy to taste Champagnes or other highly esteemed wines. At the recent, 3rd edition the masterclasses will present only CEE wines, for example the wines of Romania or indigenous varieties from 10 countries of the region. We also plan to have a guest country each year from the next edition, again countries from the Central Eastern European region.

Piotr Pietras MS will be hosting a masterclass at the event

Does your competition have a mechanism regulating the number of medals granted to the participants? How does it work, practically?

Our contest is a so-called “Anglo-Saxon” competition, so we do not limit the number of medals granted to producers. Wines are scored out of 100 and judging comes to a decision based on independent blind tasting, and a collective discussion. However, judgings are half-day affairs so we have incorporated this element from the OIV, Organisation Internationale de Vin, system.

What are the most meaningful advantages the participants are getting from your competition? What are the benefits for those who don‘t win the medals?

The medal winners are featured in several ways from our digital and print magazines to social media posts and events. Maybe the digital publication is the most relevant for entering producers: the award-winning wines will be featured in an English-language digital publication and distributed to more than 4,000 key international decision makers (importers, head sommeliers, wine merchants and wine writers).
As for the non-medal-winners, well – they can learn from the results, since the jury consists of renowned wine professionals from all over Europe. Can you mention any wine contests, where the jury members are introduced before the contest? There are a few, but not many. We want to be as transparent as possible. From the website, the photos, the videos, wine producers can actually see which experts have tasted their wines. Are you a winemaker, entering a rosé? This year Jonas Röjerman MW will be the specialist of the rosé wine tasting table. If your wine does not win medal, will you say that he is not a seasoned taster? Or will you revise the way your rosé was made?

The wine map of the world has been expanding in the last 10-15 years. How did that influence your competition (participants, judges)? Which countries, except Hungary, are represented among the participants and the jury members?

You are right: the last edition of The World Atlas of Wine features countries that were not known as wine countries earlier. Also, there are more and more developing wine countries, like Taiwan – now wonder we will have guests from Taiwan, though not as jury members, but as buyers. This Buyer’s Program is a novelty, and extra opportunities for wine producers and generic boards to introduce their wines to potential importers.

As for your second question, the proportion of foreign experts is much higher than last year.

This year we have 30 foreign jury members and 17 Hungarians, and the next year there will be even less local experts. The jury members come from several countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the USA, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

We do not preach water: we will make this wine contest THE Central Eastern European wine competition.

There’s a certain stereotype in the wine community: if a contest is held in Germany / Italy / France / UK, it focuses mainly on the buyers and consumers of that country. Do you think it’s true — and what are the core “markets of influence” for your competition?

Hungary is not a target country for most of the other CEE countries, because it is a wine producing not a wine importer country. There are some exceptions – like Pannon Borbolt with a significant selection of Balkan wines –, but the majority of the Hungarian buyers and consumers are at the phase of discovery when it comes to for example Ukrainian wines. However, we are a catalyst in this process – and we are the only one in this country with this mission.

But more importantly, our aim is to open a gate to the region. We are obliged to invite buyers and other experts of the west, and winemakers of the east and to create a professional environment to meet, taste, network and make business. We are seeking the competitive edge of the Central Eastern European wine producing region, the facets that can make this region interesting for the distributors and consumers of well-established wine importing countries.

What is your experience with Ukrainian wines? Do you see them as competitive as other wines of the Old and the New World within Winelovers Wine Awards?

 Last year we had 3 gold medals from Ukraine, 15 silver medals and 6 bronze medals from 6 Ukrainian wineries. This year we are aiming to have 50+ entries from 10+ wineries. We are progressing step-by-step, and I think it is time to learn more about Ukrainian wines. Winelovers Wine Award is ready to make your wines more recognized! It is up to you to join or not.

The medal winner Ukrainian wines from the last edition of Winelovers Wine Awards


Jury members of WWA 2024


International buyers of WWA 2024


 Registration & entry of samples