- June 2012, Tokaj
- Balázs Humayer, chief coordinator of Haraszthy200 Festival
- János Májer, mayor of Tokaj
- Members of presidency
- Hajnalka Prácser winemaker, practiced in Sonoma
- Zsuzsa Dárdai art critic, descendant of Ágoston Haraszthy
- István Dévald, director of Tokaj Cultural and Conference Centre
- János Dóka, member of Tokaj City Council
In November 2011 a Hungarian winemaker’s delegation has been in California, and they have visited the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma founded by Agoston Haraszthy. During a conversation with the winery’s owner, Jean-Charles Boisset, came the idea that the celebration of Agoston Haraszthy’s 200th birthday anniversary would be a great occasion for Sonoma and Tokaj becoming sister cities with each other. This pairing is an excellent opportunity for the two wine producer cities to mutually learn from each other, both in a cultural and economic sense.
The initiative was supported by the organizers of Haraszthy200 Festival, and after a few months of consultation in spring 2012 both Sonoma’s and Tokaj’s town leaderships voted to officially become sister cities with each other. The two mayors scheduled the signing of the memorandum to 31st of August 2012, for the Agoston Haraszthy’s birthday celebrations.
Such a sister city connection can work well, if the initiative is at heart of the civilian population. This spring the Sonoma-Tokaj Sistercity Committee was founded in California as a non-governmental organization, chaired by George Webber. The members are Hungarian and American citizens living in Sonoma, for whom it is important to care about this overseas relationship. In June 2012 was established the Tokaj-Sonoma Association in Hungary with the participation of 18 individuals, chaired by Balazs Humayer, co-organizer of the Haraszthy200 Festival, the Vice President became Janos Majer, the Mayor of Tokaj. In late August 2012 a seven-member Hungarian delegation visited to Sonoma. Main objectives of the visit were: meeting of the two town leaders, visiting Sonoma’s institutions, get to know the Hungarian community in Sonoma, signing of the founding documents of the sister city connection, and to initiate the future cooperation between the two cities.
The program started on 28th of August with the Mayors meeting at Sonoma’s City Hall. After that the delegation visited Sonoma city’s institutions: the hospital, where MRI and diagnostic robots are available for the patients, the city’s primary and secondary schools, where the total power consumption can be covered by solar panels, as well as the Community Center where the Tokaj children’s drawings were exhibited.
The Hungarian delegation discussed with the Dean of Sonoma State
University Wine Business Institute about starting a winemaker exchange
program between Sonoma and Tokaj and also visited the Culinary
Institute of America, where the best chefs, confectioners and
sommeliers are trained in the U.S. The delegation visited the Hungarian
related wineries, so the Molnar Family’s “Tricycle Winery” in Sonoma
and the Kapcsandy Family Winery in Yountville.
The delegation visited the Haraszthy’s Villa at Bartholomew Park, which still preserves the work of Agoston Haraszthy as a museum. On 31st of August at the Buena Vista Winery was the signing of a formal sister cities memorandum, and on the next day there was a great Haraszthy200 Hungarian ceremony on the main square of Sonoma. Hungarian folk dancers, folk musicians and cavalrymen living in California presented a three-hour show.
Sonoma and Tokaj would like to cooperate successfully with each other in many areas in the future. As for both cities the most important topic is the wine industry, the parties would like to start a vintner exchange training program in 2013. The goal is for Tokaj’s vintners to spend 3-6 months at a Sonoma’s winery, where they can learn the winemaking processes and wine sales methods of California. Sonoma’s vintners are hosted by Tokaj’s wineries, where American experts can get insight to specificities of Tokaj’s wine-growing areas and get to know the production of Aszu.
The Association would like to start a program to ensure educational opportunities for high school students of Tokaj in California. For both nongovernmental organizations is a purpose to organize summer camps for students in Sonoma and in Tokaj. An artist residency program is in action in Sonoma, in which one artist from Tokaj could join each year, and spend 6 months at the Sonoma Community Center’s hospitality.
In May 2013 a delegation from Sonoma will visit Tokaj and Budapest to see the famous sights of Hungary, and meet the people of Tokaj. Agoston Haraszthy’s 200th birthday anniversary was a great occasion for the birth of sister city connection between Sonoma and Tokaj. The parties trust in this connection will be a fruitful cooperation over many years for the residents of both cities.
Balázs Humayer, president
Presented in Haraszthy200 wine-conference; 5 October 2012, Tokaj.