Sunny valleys rich with volcanic soil, a Mediterranean climate of mild breezes, Greece has ideal conditions for making wine. It’s no wonder that vineyards have been thriving there for thousands of years.
Despite its long history of grape cultivation, Greece was long overlooked by traveling wine connoisseurs. The country has finally begun to take its place as a world-class wine destination. Here are some of the top wine tasting destinations to visit in Greece if you enjoy wine.
Nemea and Nafplio in Peloponnese
The region around Nemea is a classic destination for wine enthusiasts. The mountains and valleys create ideal climates for various grapes. Differences in elevations and direct sunlight bring out the many personalities of the local grape, called Agiorgitiko.
Vineyards at the bottom of the valley produce a strong, red wine. Those near the peaks, around 9000 feet, create some of the best wines. The most sought-after grapes grow in fields on the hills and moderate slopes.
You may want to visit the island in September for one of the most popular wine festivals in Greece, “Great Days of Nemea.” During this festival, people gather to enjoy the newest wine releases and to celebrate the harvest. While here, you can also enjoy local food specialties and tour parts of the region.
Nearby, the quaint harbor town of Nafplio not only boasts great opportunities for drinking wine, it also has several hotels that will provide a base for your stay. Spend your evenings sampling wine and food pairings at the many restaurants. You may even reserve a day to explore the cobblestone streets.
The Greek Islands
There are several islands that are known for their wine. In Santorini, a massive volcanic eruption preserved the history of winemaking. Grape seeds and vats from the Bronze Age were covered in ashes and pumice. The volcanic debris created ideal soil conditions for today’s vineyards. Today, the island is especially known for its Assyrtiko, a crisp, dry white varietal.
The history of winemaking in Crete traces back to the Minoans. Production took a hit when the tiny phylloxera insect decimated the island’s agriculture in the 1970s. The vineyards were replanted, and Crete is reemerging as a center for wine production. Its Vilana grape makes some of the most popular white wine in Greece.
The island of Rhodes may have the best climate in Greece for producing wines because it enjoys some of the sunniest weather and shortest periods of rain. It has long been noted as a producer of fine wines. The Mandelaria grape makes a delicious red wine, an anomaly in this region where white wine rules.
Naousa in Macedonia
Naousa owes its reputation to the rich soil in the foothills of northern Greece. It lacks the Mediterranean climate of other Greek wine regions. The interplay of mountains and sea creates much colder winters. Only some grapes can ripen in this climate.
This region was the first in Greece to receive an official appellation title in 1971.Its namesake wine is made from Macedonia’s most popular red-wine grape, Xynomavro. High-quality Naousa is one of the world’s finest red wines.
Greek wineries are known for their dedication to tradition and also for their quality. Visit each region to understand the great history of wine production.