BOARD RESHUFFLE AT GRAND TOKAJ

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Leading figures of Tokaj's winemaking scene such as Szent Tamás's chief winemaker István Szepsy Jr and Dereszla estate manager László Kalocsai have been invited to join the new Board of Directors (BOD) of government-run wine company Grand Tokaj (formerly known as Tokaj Crown Estates), while all members of the Supervisory Board (SB), except for Miklós Prácser, have been dismissed as of 1st August, and are expected to be replaced in the coming weeks. Even András Tombor, who has been heading the SB since late 2012, is stepping down, while Péter Szappanos, appointed last November, is rumoured to retain his position as CEO. At the same time, the company's SB will cease to be in charge of approving major decisions of the BOD and will revert to a 'classic' monitoring role, as was the case before 2013. An official press release with all the new names is likely to come out some time in early autumn.

The change appears to mean that the Tokaj region's leading producers are now going to have more say on how Hungary's only government-owned wine company is managed. The past three years has been prolific in management changes at Grand Tokaj, and while the company has implemented a significant tech upgrade, they recently received some critcism from other local producers for inundating the market with large volumes of cheap bulk wine, a move that did not seem to be quite in line with corporate communication.

The largest wine producer and buyer of grapes in the Tokaj region, Gand Tokaj (earlier known as Tokaj Crown Estates [Tokaj Kereskedőház in HU] had been known for some two decades as the state-run giant flooding the domestic market with cheap wines not worthy of the Tokaji brand and exporting bulks of the same (except for a few ‘show’ wines) to foreign markets. While many would have loved to see TCE be divided up and privatised, Hungary’s government had instead taken a more difficult alternative, in 2012, of setting out to completely turn around and transform the company into what could be regarded as a national flagship winery.

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