From prehistoric times, the wines of Greece and the wine-making tradition has had a huge impact on the Greek culture. The Greek wine history is inevitably associated with the culture, the economy, the religion, the social and everyday life, but also the places where viticulture, wine production, and wine consumption developed.
Besides the interesting part of the history of Greek wines, we will analyze how you can experience wine tourism in Greece by visiting some of the most amazing wineries and vineyards across the country. Read on and you will put wine tourism in your must-do list during your stay in Greece.
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Boutari Winery – Naousa
Beginning with northern Greece, we will make our first stop in Naousa city, which is also considered to be the wine capital of northern Greece. The winery of the Boutari family is one of the oldest in the country, dating back 130 years ago. Here you can enjoy long walks in the vineyards, watch the entire production process and visit the famous cellar of the winery, where you can find more than 3,000 barrels with the most aged Greek wines.
The best part of the visit is the wine-tasting of course. Here, you get the chance to taste the worldwide famous Boutari wines, and especially Xinomavro, one of the best red Greek varieties, found mainly in this region. Your wine tasting will be accompanied by traditional Greek delicacies of the region.
Being in the area, you have to visit the Wine and Vine Museum. It is located in the centre of Naousa in a traditional building, which belongs to Ioannis Boutaris. In the museum, you can learn more about the history of wine and wine-making in Naousa and the surrounding districts. Most of the exhibits belong to and are donated by the Boutari family.
Domaine Gerovassiliou – Epanomi Thessaloniki
Heading west towards Thessaloniki we will make our second stop in Domaine Gerovassiliou, which is located just 25 kilometers south-east of Thessaloniki, in Epanomi village, forming one of the city’s coastal suburbs.
Vangelis Gerovassiliou is one of the most important Greek oenologists who started reviving the family vineyard in 1981. Since then, the vineyard has been growing with no sign of stopping. Nowadays it is one of the most famous Greek wineries and its wines have received many Greek and international awards.
The winery is located just next to the vineyards and is open to the public. Besides the obvious wine-tasting and walking through the vineyards, you can join educational programs and seminars, browse different publications, or attend lectures as well theatrical and musical performances, which take place there throughout the year.
After the wine-tasting and the tour in the winery’s facilities, you should visit the Gerovassiliou Wine Museum. There you will see one of the world’s greatest corkscrew collections and wine-growing tools, with more than 2,600 exhibits. Most of the exhibits are taken from Mr. Gerovassiliou’s collection; he and his family, who are the second generation continuing the tradition, have offered much to the Greek wine culture.
You should end your visit with stopping by the restaurant, where you can enjoy detectable flavours accompanied by a delicious glass of wine and with the whole vineyard spread in front of you. My personal favourite is Malagouzia by Domaine Gerovassiliou. Malagouzia is a great Greek white variety with Protected Geographical Indication Epanomi, which Mr. Gerovassiliou has saved from extinction. It is similar to the Sauvignon Blanc variety, but with a more fruity aroma and a yellow-greenish colour. It is a great pairing to Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.
Local Tip: being around Thessaloniki at the end of September, you must attend the wine-tasting event of Wine Roads of Northern Greece Association, Voroina. There you will be able to taste a great variety of wines from almost every winery in Northern Greece and discover all the exceptional wineries of the region.
Kokotou Estate – Attica
Heading south, we will make our next stop at Kokotou Estate, which is located near Athens. For the Athenians, this is the perfect getaway, where they can experience the peace and tranquility of nature, without traveling far. In the 1970s, George Kokotos and his family decided to abandon urban life, built their home and create a small vineyard in the hills north of Athens.
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This is more of a boutique winery, where the visitor can taste famous international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc along with Greek varieties like Assyrtiko and Savvatiano. By making an appointment with the winery, you will have the chance to experience a guided tour through the whole winemaking procedure and participate in the many activities organized by the Estate. The activities organized for children are of great interest. The young ones will have the chance to harvest the grapes and olives, learn the secrets of the vineyard and cultivate a vegetable garden.
End your visit by having a great meal prepared with fresh vegetables from the Estate’s vegetable garden, meat from the poultry farm and extra virgin olive oil from the olive grove.
SantoWines – Santorini
We have already mentioned Santorini’s beauty and glory, but this time we will focus on its oenotourism center. This island, besides its other blessings, has a great production of Greek wines and especially the varieties of Assyrtiko and Vinsanto.
Assyrtiko is a white variety, 90% of which is produced in Santorini island and is a protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Due to this, the Assyrtiko variety is usually referred to as just Santorini. It is an easy-drinking, gentle, white wine, which accompanies a Mediterranean meal perfectly. On the other hand, if you are more of a dessert-wine person, Santorini is also the place for you. Here you will find Vinsanto, a sweet dessert wine, which also carries a Protected Designation of Origin Santorini. It is the perfect aperitif and you will find it in every traditional house on the island. It is said that Vinsanto is the holdover of Passos, the raisin wine of ancient times.
Santorini has many beautiful wineries that are worth visiting. One of these choices is SantoWines. This is not only a winery but the Union of Santorini Cooperatives and it was founded in 1947. Its mission is the promotion of traditional cultivation, by producing the highest quality Protected Designation of Origin Santorini products, such as PDO Santorini wines, PDO Santorini Tomato, PDO Santorini Fava and PDO Santorini Caper, as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development.
The facility of SantoWines winery is one of the most modern wineries in Greece; it is built on different levels, just as the so-called “terraces” of the vineyard. The wine-tasting process takes place on the terrace of the winery on the caldera. The view from up there is breathtaking and not-to-be-missed. The place has been established as one of the most important wine tourism destinations in the country wit 400,000 visitors annually.
During the wine-tasting process, do not miss the chance to taste the other PDO products of Santorini, which pair great with the wines on offer. You will also have the chance to purchase your favourites from the deli shop of the Union, in order to take back home some of the magic of Santorini.
Douloufakis Winery – Crete
Leaving behind Santorini, a last stop in our second (or, maybe first!) favorite Greek island, Crete. Cretan wine making tradition dates back to ancient times, where 4,000 years before the history of European wine started. The world’s oldest wine press was found in the Vatypetro area near Heraklion.
There are plenty of wineries on the island, all of them beautiful and ready to introduce you to the viticulture of the island. Most of the wineries are located in Heraklion and Siteia area. The winery of the Douloufakis family, Cretan Wines, is one of the oldest in Crete, as the grandfather Dimitrios Douloufakis started to produce wine in these old premises back in the 1930s. Nowadays the business is run by the grandson Mr. Nikolaos Douloufakis, who has won many international awards.
During your visit to the winery, you will be guided to the winery facilities and informed about the wine making procedure. In the tasting room, you will have the chance to taste all the wines, learn about the features and talk about the varieties of grapes and the Cretan vineyard. Also, you will be able to stroll around the vineyards, enjoy the panoramic view of the area around and visit the barrel cellar, where the ageing wines are stored.
The most famous Cretan varieties of wine are Liatiko, Kotsifal, Vilana, Mandilari, Vidiano, and Muscat of Spina. All of the above varieties offer exceptional red, white and rose wines, both dry and sweet. So, you will have no issue with finding your ideal wine, regardless of your preferences.
Greece might be known for the islands, the great beaches, and history but now you know there is a lot more. Discovering the beauty of wine tourism and agritourism of Greece is something we hope you put in your bucket list of things to do. You will be amazed by the beauty of nature, the exceptional taste of Greek wines, and the welcoming people willing to introduce you to the beautiful world of viticulture.