Greece is considered the cradle of the culture of wine and the wine was an important part of life in the ancient world. It even had its own god Dionysus. Already in the Neolithic, the fruits of the wild grape vine have been processed and found a site with one of the world’s oldest wine presses, but also different vessels of clay. Viticulture in Greece was booming in the period between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. In the 15th century under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, the wine lostits meaning, but recovered very fast, but when phylloxera destroyed almost all vineyards in Europe, it struck Greece hard due to the attack.
Since the 70’s, the wine experienced an upswing again. New vines were planted, money invested in the modern winemaking technology and new, modern wines produced. So Greece found the connection in the wine industry.
In Greece, there is a Mediterranean climate everywhere, with hot dry summers and mild wet winters. Inland the temperatures drop in winter under the zero level and there is also snow falls. The wine-growing areas mostly located near the coast and on the mountain slopes. In autumn rainfall often comes too early and the grapes have problems to ripen fully, they are watered down and burst open. The soils consist partly of granite, limestone and volcanic rocks, ideal for orchards and vineyards. Due to the hot climate, the vineyards are cutivated on the mountain slopes, so the grapes can ripen slowly and the wine gets more structure and power of expression.
A variety of different local and international grapes are cultivated, there are even more than 200 indigenous species. Everything is offered, from white wines, red wines, rosé wines and many liqueurs.
The finest indigenous red grape variety is Agiorgitiko, more varieties are Kotsifali, Liatiko, Limnio, Mandilaria and Vertzami. International Red varieties are Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Merlot and Syrah.
The most important white grape varieties are Aidani Aspro, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Roditis, Savatiano and international like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Ugni Blanc.
The Greek quality system is divided into three areas:
-OPAP (Onomasia Proeléfseos Antonéras Piótitos)
This is the designation of origin of a higher quality. It is precisely defines what grape varieties are used and in what way they were developed. The maximum and minimum alcohol content are clearly defined.
-OPE (Onomasia Proeléfseos Eleghoméni)
This is a controlled designation of origin and applies to liqueur wines. Reserve or Gran reserve appear on the wine label indicating the wine had a longer maturity period.
-Topikos Oinos (wine)
The regulations are not as stringent as in the other terms, but the region of origin must be specified.
This is the name for table wines, it is usually blended wines from different regions without designation of origin. Kava or Cava is given on the label if the wine was stored longer.
Cultivation in Greece is done on a vineyard area of about 110,000 hectares, only half of the vineyards used for wine production, the rest is used to produce table grapes and raisins.