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The gift of an imperfect history

True beauty is often hidden in the most unexpected places. The stories, times, parts of the world and people. Moreover, we find meaning, uniqueness and real beauty every time we accidentally encounter imperfection. The fact that nothing is ever perfect, in life and travel, inspires us. It helps us realize that nothing beautiful in the world would be born of flawless events. And that we would not even need such a thing. This is what we learned visiting Bethlen-Haller Castle.

The stories that really deserve to be told have something that goes out of the natural and desired

Because the stories that really deserve to be told, similar to interesting people, have in them something that goes out of the natural and desired. They have crossroads, trials, wanderings, wars, losses, rebirth, imperfection.

Bethlen-Haller Castle is for us the beautiful story and the winning good, which hides,  an imperfect history. It was on our list for some time and today we are delighted to have discovered it. We have lived a complete experience in terms of accommodation, gourmet menu, activities. The beautiful energy of the people, the new things we discovered about the castle, its history. At the same time we learned the story of Jidvei Romania, that owns the castle today. We understood their involvement in community, the contribution made to the progress and international recognition of Romanian wine.

Bethlen-Haller Castle, the story on the banks of Târnava Mică

Once in Cetatea de Baltă, Alba County, on the banks of Târnava Mică and discovering Bethlen-Haller Castle that seems to guard the entire horizon, we cannot fail to notice the new life that it has. Our hearts are filled with gratitude, noticing that we can easily get lost in a landscape similar to France or Italy. The beautiful reborn Bethlen-Haller Castle, its details, the order and the surrounding air.

Castelul-Bethlen-Haller

We are guided with good energy, smiles and a lot of passion by Bogdana. As we love the places that breathe through their people, we understand from the beginning that we will be very happy to return.

Bethlen-Haller Castle, a troubled history

The journey at Bethlen-Haller Castle begins with a tour. It has a troubled history, unknown sometimes. Similar to the styles in which it was built (Renaissance, Baroque, avant-garde and extravagant) so are its days, owners, stories. Typically Renaissance built, the four-tower Bethlen-Haller Castle was built between 1615-1624 by Miklos Bethlen, Chancellor of Transylvania. However, it has undergone numerous transformations over time. Between 1769-1773 it was renovated in Baroque style. It was bought from the Tax Office, sold, bet and lost at card game, passing from the possession of Bethlen family to Haller family. It was like this starting with the second half of the 19th century, until the year of expropriation, 1948.

Necşulescu family restored Bethlen-Haller Castle, turning it into a symbol of Jidvei

During the communist period, Bethlen-Haller Castle became vinification section, while the original furniture, decorations and collectibles disappeared or were destroyed. After 1989, it was claimed and returned to Haller family, then bought by Necşulescu family, who restored it. It became after a symbol of Jidvei and in 2020 the family opened it completely for the public.

Many corners, windows, details that are worth sniffing in a personal rhythm, at Bethlen-Haller Castle

We are grateful for the generous tour, for the small imperfections we observe, which make Bethlen-Haller Castle more beautiful. In one of the towers there is an old wooden staircase. Hanging on the walls surrounding the staircase we see old clocks, one for each birthday celebration of the owner. Also it is said that at the base of the stairs, the old door would have been the passage to a secret tunnel that connected the two castles of the Bethlen family. It is this one and the one in Sânmiclăuș.

Castelul Bethlen-Haller - pat cazare si cada vintage

An old piano with a symbolic beauty, at Bethlen-Haller Castle

We also find out that the current objects and paintings inside Bethlen-Haller Castle have been collected over time from various collections. Some of the rooms have been painted by students from the University of Arts. However, one of the painted walls has only an outline, without a completed model, a symbol of the beauty of imperfection, the specificity of this place. We stop next to an old piano, the only object left in the castle from the period when it became a warehouse. Made in Vienna, today it looks tired, completely out of tune, but with a symbolic beauty, that only a trial can offer as gift. We can feel the emotion while touching it.

Bethlen-Haller Castle, a story

Bethlen-Haller Castle is, therefore, a story. It needs to be discovered in peace, understood, valued. It has many corners, windows, details that are worth sniffing in a personal rhythm. We arrive to our room, one of the four currently available and renovated. Time travel, tall windows under which a beautiful field and sunset appear, perfect furniture, white bedding, painted walls and an elegant bathtub, romantically surrounded by a transparent curtain. For a moment you are there, back in time.

What to do

2500 ha of vineyard, the largest single-owner area in Europe

On the first day we better understood the history and current story of Jidvei wineries. We were glad to find out so many new things. Jidvei has 2500 ha of vineyard, the largest single-owner area in Europe, processing over 25 million kg of grapes annually. At the same time, it inaugurated the first gravitational winery in Europe and today it produces 54 different labels. Jidvei has four wineries, in Jidvei, Tăuni, Blaj and Bălcaciu. The storage capacity is over 35 million liters. Jidvei winery, built in 1974, has the largest storage capacity, with a modern fermentation technology, fully automated. Blaj, founded in 1989, hosts the oldest wines. Bălcaciu (1958) has the sparkling wines and wine distillates. Established in 2014, Tăuni is unique, thanks to fermentation and storage tanks, equipment and facilities, modern technologies. It uses gravitational energy, for minimal intervention in the winemaking process.

Understanding the complexity of the world of wine at Bethlen-Haller Castle

So we enjoyed the tour of the wineries, understanding once again the complexity of this world. The visits culminate in the second part of the day with tasting, a gourmet menu, shared stories and a better knowledge of Jidvei varieties. In the following days we discovered the field, we visited the small and beautiful church right in front of Bethlen-Haller Castle and we practiced our archery skills. The farm on the property can also be visited.

What to eat

We enjoyed the same mastery in telling stories and preparing all kinds of goodies found in the gourmet menu. It is adapted to food needs and habits, being established and designed before your stay. We were pampered with wonderful dishes, cheese, soups, meat and vegetarian options, such as a delicious risotto or vegan pasta. All perfectly combined with the wine. Our winners were those from the Owner’s Choice collection: Ana Sauvignon Blanc, Ana Chardonnay, Maria Fetească Albă and Maria Pinot Gris. Also the velvety and balanced Mysterium Sauvignon Blanc, the noble rosé Mysterium (Cabernet Sauvignon + Pinot Noir + Syrah) and the precious Eiswein, produced in exceptional wine years, from grapes harvested in early winter.

At dinner we had the pleasure to meet Mr. Claudiu Necșulescu, the owner of Jidvei Romania and Bethlen-Haller Castle. We always appreciate meeting such personalities of the Romanian business environment, promoters and ambassadors of the Romanian specificity. At the same time, he is a fighter for the constant progress of the Romanian wine. We learn something beautiful every time, the journey being enriched, especially by the modesty, simplicity and natural tranquility that these people show.

Where to go

In the area of ​Cetatea de Baltă there are some objectives that can be visited, but many are in ruin. Among them, a Roman camp from the second century AD, the Calvinist Reformed Church from the XIII-XV centuries, the monument of the Romanian Heroes from the First World War, the Romanian Church United with Rome, the Holy Trinity, dedicated to Saint Anton of Padova.

Joy actually comes from people

Beyond history, stories with and about wine, events and places, we discover, as the people from Jidvei say, that joy actually comes from people. In fact, true joy is inspired by their stories. Stories and history keep us alive, allow us to move forward, make us learn so much about ourselves and the world. We discovered at Bethlen-Haller Castle that joy, light and tranquility, specific to a happy ending. Beyond history, ruin, fate, imperfection, Bethlen-Haller Castle survived and lived hundreds of lives, not even similar. We always enjoy the emotional discovery of all these one of a kind places, receiving a new life, never being too late.

Bethlen-Haller Castle, a true experience

Joy comes from people and their stories and they also sanctify and give life to places, history, lands. We are grateful for every story like this one. Still imperfect, but complete, unique, and happy, in the end. Like that old piano, which rests in one of the rooms of Bethlen-Haller Castle, finding, after many storms, its place.

Castelul-Bethlen-Haller
Castelul-Bethlen-Haller
Castelul-Bethlen-Haller
Castelul-Bethlen-Haller

What SHE likes

  • the sunset seen at the window
  • the painted walls
  • the story of rebirth

What HE likes

  • the architecture of the castle reminding of the structure of Chambord Castle in France
  • the gourmet menu and the association with Jidvei wines
  • the small church on the estate

HINTS

  • On the territory of Romania, historical sources attest the cultivation of vineyard since the 5th-1st centuries BC, Herodotus mentioning that the Geto-Dacians practiced viticulture in Târnave Valley;
  • Cetatea de Baltă is documented in 1177;
  • Wines of Târnave are known from the Feudal era, Transylvania being called “The Wine Country” (Weinland);
  • In 1949, Jidvei State Agricultural Enterprise was established, over 50 years becoming Jidvei company;
  • The two wines included in the Owner’s Choice collection, Ana and Maria, are named after the owner’s daughters and in general each collection or label produced tells a story with meaning or is related to a certain event, symbol, celebration.

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Bethlen-Haller Castle

Cetatea de Baltă, Alba County

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