The revival of wines from Greece

“It’s taken 34 centuries, but Greek wine is finally good”, wrote wine writer David Williams in The Guardian a few days ago. Greeks are indeed among the first in the world to have produced wine. But despite the long history of winemaking, the wines themselves were not that great, and couldn’t compete on the international market.

A lot changed some twenty years ago. A few young winemakers were trained in the best wine schools abroad, and continued to learn the craft in famous wineries in France and Italy. Some of them returned to their homeland to start a winery or revive the vineyard of their parents. They planted international known varieties and mixed them with indigenous grapes. They applied modern winemaking techniques and they understood that marketing was also an important aspect of running a winemaking business.

Druiven en droesemIn 2011 I published a book (in the Dutch language) on this wonderful renaissance of the Greek wines: Druiven en droesem, een reis langs Griekse wijngaarden. In the years before publication, when I was doing my research, all the winemakers were very happy to share their stories with me, enthousiastic about curiosity from abroad.

Since then, a lot has changed, in a positive way. More and more winemakers are entering the field. The climate in the mountainous country creates the perfect conditions. Winemakers seem to become more focussed on the indigenous Greek grapes, instead of using the wellknown Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Greek grapes like Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro, Malagousia, Assyrtiko, Roditis and Moschofileros have been planted in many places in the country. And … more and more women are taking over the business, as a winemaker, oenologist, manager or sommelier.

In 2005, Konstantinos Lazarakis, Greece’s first Master of Wine, wrote a book called The Wines of Greece. In the second edition, published in 2018, he writes that the quality of the Greek wines has changed dramatically. Many producers understand the importance of growing into high-profile markets and being seen at top restaurants around the world.

Do you want to tast the award-winning wines of wineries like Estate Argyros, Domaine Sigalas, Alpha Estate, Ktima Gerovassiliou, Gaia Estate, Mylonas Winery? A lot of those wines are exported abroad and are probably sold through specialized wineshops in your country.

You probably can’t visit all the different wine regions of Greece. But what you can do, when visiting Athens, is going to one of the terrific wine bars in the Greek capital. Check for example:
By the glass

Like Konstantinos Lazarakis two years ago said in an interview: “Now if you are a wine professional and you do not know that Greece can produce exceptional wines, then, I am sorry, your knowledge needs some serious updating!”