Greek Wine Month

Greek Wine Month

We are delighted to be able to participate in the UK’s first ever Greek Wine Month.

The promotional month is a collaborative effort between The Greek Wine Federation, Westbury Communications, UK importers, restaurants and retailers across the UK.

A Brief History of Greek Wine

Greek wine boasts a rich and storied history that dates back over 6,500 years, making it one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Ancient Greeks considered wine a staple of their culture, intertwined with their daily life, mythology, and religion. Here’s a journey through the fascinating evolution of Greek wine:

Ancient Beginnings

Viticulture in Greece began in the Neolithic period, around 4,500 BCE. Early evidence of grape cultivation and wine production has been found in archaeological sites, including grape seeds and ancient wine presses. By the Mycenaean era (1600-1100 BCE), wine was already a significant commodity, often stored in large clay jars called amphorae.

Classical Era

The classical era (5th-4th century BCE) was a golden age for Greek wine. The Greeks not only perfected their winemaking techniques but also spread their knowledge and grapevines throughout the Mediterranean, including regions of Italy, France, and Spain. Wine was a central element of the symposium, a social gathering where philosophical and political discussions took place over shared drinks. Renowned wines from regions like Chios, Thasos, and Lesbos were highly prized and traded extensively.

Influence of Mythology

Greek mythology deeply influenced the cultural significance of wine. Dionysus, the god of wine, revelry, and fertility, was a central figure in Greek religion. Festivals dedicated to Dionysus, such as the Dionysia, celebrated the harvest and the joys of wine, reinforcing its divine status.

Roman and Byzantine Periods

When the Romans conquered Greece in the 2nd century BCE, they adopted and adapted Greek winemaking practices, further spreading Greek viticultural influence across their empire. During the Byzantine era (330-1453 CE), Greek wine continued to thrive, with monasteries becoming key centres of production. Monastic communities preserved ancient grape varieties and techniques, ensuring the continuity of Greek wine traditions.

Ottoman Occupation

The Ottoman rule (1453-1821 CE) posed significant challenges for Greek wine production. Islamic law, which discourages alcohol consumption, led to a decline in winemaking. However, some regions, particularly the islands, managed to sustain their viticulture, often producing wine in secret.

Modern Revival

The 19th and 20th centuries saw a revival of Greek wine. Following independence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece began to reestablish its wine industry. The phylloxera plague that devastated European vineyards in the late 19th century largely spared Greece, allowing its ancient grape varieties to flourish. In recent decades, Greek winemakers have embraced modern techniques while preserving traditional methods, leading to a renaissance in quality and global recognition.

Unique Grape Varieties and Terroir

Greece is home to over 300 indigenous grape varieties, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Notable varieties include Assyrtiko from Santorini, Moschofilero from the Peloponnese, and Xinomavro from Macedonia. Greece’s diverse terroir, from mountainous regions to coastal vineyards, contributes to the distinctiveness and complexity of its wines.

Greek Wine Today

Today, Greek wine is celebrated for its unique flavours and exceptional quality. The country’s winemakers continue to innovate, producing award-winning wines that capture the essence of Greece’s rich heritage and diverse landscapes. Whether you’re a connoisseur or a casual enthusiast, exploring Greek wine offers a delightful journey through one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant winemaking traditions.

Browse the participating producers below.