Greek Wine is on the Rise

During the last few years this is a story creating news all over the world. Greek wine, totally undiscovered until quite recently, is making an incredible comeback that news media, wine enthusiasts, sommeliers and consumers worldwide are talking about. It is winning golden medals and awards, while gourmet restaurants offer top positions in their wine lists.
With a history of 2500 years in winemaking one would expect Greece to be one of the top wine producing countries since many centuries ago. But 400 years of Ottoman occupation, which came with alcohol prohibition and huge taxation, brought Greek winemaking to a dead end at a period that other European countries were in the process of refining their wine production knowledge and branding.
The reasons behind the revival of Greek wine

With 300 indigenous grape varieties almost 70 of which are today in full production Greece has an ever ending arsenal of wine surprises to offer to the world markets.

1200 wineries, most of them small lesser known family run businesses, are dedicated to the production of amazing wines.

New generations of wine makers who have studied oenology in world class universities experiment with indigenous varieties and create award winning wines.

Greece is a Mediterranean country with mild climate throughout the year and a broad geographical diversity. Sea breezes offer their assistance to the production of quality grapes that suffer less from diseases.

Natural, organic and biodynamic wine production is rising at a surprising momentum.

Investments in new technology have created a new infrastructure that is constantly upgrading Greek wine quality.

Greek Wine History

Greek wine making can be traced back as far as 2500 BC, during the Minoan period, with the oldest wine press in the world being discovered at the island of Crete.

During the classical period, the golden age of Athens, when democracy, philosophy, sculpture, mathematics, astronomy, theatre and a total appreciation for perfection create a new frontier for human civilisation, Greek wines play an important role in social life. The famous symposia of Attica, with the participation of great writers, poets, philosophers and politicians where the importance of wine is praised is known from the works of Plato and other writers of that time.

Greek wine is now a basic commodity that travels between the Greek state-cities, colonies and abroad with ships in amphorae sealed with raisin. This is the era of the first PDO regions in the world with ancient terroirs becoming prestigious brand names that experience great demand due to their exceptional quality.

The Ariousios oenos comes from the region of Ariousia at the island of Chios, Lesvios from the island of Lesvos, Samios from Samos, Thassios from the island of Thassos and famous white Mendeos from Halkidiki in northern Greece.

Ancient Greeks create a wine culture that is supported by important elements of their religion, ancient myths and mystical beliefs. Dionysus, one of the 12 Greek Gods, who is the very popular god of wine and fisting, offers wonderful occasions for wine consumption, with huge fists being organised in his name. Moderate drinking though is a must and Greeks always add water to their wine since drinking is great but getting drunk is considered barbarian. Famous father of medicine Hippocrates suggests wine can be used as a drug against a number of diseases.

Hellenistic times, that start just after the death of Alexander the Great, find Greek wine production methods spreading all over the known world, since an army needed to be fed and entertained and wines were crucial for the wellbeing of Macedonian soldiers so far away from home.

Then during the Roman times, starting at the second half of the 2nd century BC, Greece is under Roman rule. Romans adopt many elements from the Greek civilisation including winemaking techniques that were already present for hundreds of years in the Greek colonies of south Italy and Sicily. Greek wines are adored by the rich and the famous Romans who appreciate wine from the Greek islands and mainland. During the Roman period Cretan wines experience a huge increase in exports and Cretan amphorae bring exceptional wines all over Europe from Pompea and Ostia to Switzerland and from Lyons, France to Egypt.

Next come the Byzantine times, an era stretching throughout a whole millennium, with Costantinopole becoming the capital of the new Roman Empire. Winemaking experiences a boom both in the new Byzantine Empire regions, in the islands and the mainland of Greece. Monasteries all over Greece including Mt Athos are in the centre of quality wine production and most of the Aegean islands produce popular quality wines including sweet red wines necessary for the sacred communion.

Venetian rule extends on the islands of the Aegean and the Ionian seas, over Crete, and for a few years over the Peloponnese .Venetians adore Greek wines and are mainly thrilled with Malvasios oenos which comes from the area of Monemvassia. They also export large quantities from Crete and the Cycladic islands to the rest of Europe.

Ottoman rule lasts for 400 years and leaves Greek wine wounded in all aspects, from vineyards to winemaking. Since alcohol consumption is prohibited on religious grounds, Greek vineyards are almost totally abandoned with very few areas providing some yearly yields that are heavily taxed by Ottoman governors who show no interest for the future of wine production.

Modern times find the Greek vineyard being affected by a number of devastating wars including the war of independence in 1821, Balcan wars, World War I, World War II and finally a civil war that all have a huge effect on wine production with most vineyards being further abandoned by their owners who flock to the cities for better chances of work. After the wars a number of cooperatives come in place in different parts of Greece producing wines that such as retsina (with raisin), Mavrodaphne and PGI Samos wines or higher alcohol wines. These are exported often bulk in Europe to be blended with local wines.

The new era of wine production in Greece starts during the eighties when Greek universities start to educate young winemakers and oenologists who decide to travel abroad to learn new techniques and to further understand the art of winemaking in Burgundy and other winemaking regions. When they finally return home they decide to experiment in creating new amazing wines bringing a number of precious indigenous Greek grape varieties back from extinction. This is a period of investment in new wineries all over Greece, of advanced technological equipment and of new ideas and creativity that has driven Greek wine production to a new era of recognition that has never been experienced since the classical times. A trend which is now unfolding
at an unprecedented speed.

Today Greek wine is an important participant of the international vineyard and offers an amazing spectrum of great wines that win distinctions and awards all over the world. Amazing Greek Wines is here to present to you Greek wines produced by these very creative small lesser known wine producers and to offer you the possibility to enjoy them at discounted prices no matter how far you live from Greece. Being small businesses they have no other option then to compete on quality which gives you the chance to enjoy great wines from some of the world’s oldest varieties and vineyards.