For centuries, wine has played an important role in Greek culture. Stories of wine and winemaking figure prominently in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Ancient Greeks worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine, and held festivals and processions in his honor to celebrate the unrestrained consumption of wine. Wine was an incredibly important trade commodity that took on great cultural, religious, and economic importance in ancient Greece.
The reverence that Greeks hold for wine persists to this day. The rugged and varied landscape in Greece provides the ideal environment for red, white, rose, and sparkling wines. From the lush wineries in Greece’s northwestern regions to the windier vineyards on the islands of Santorini and Crete, Greece produces a wide assortment of wines, each with a distinct flavor and aroma that harken back to its vineyard of origin.
At Nerai’s Greek Winemaker Dinner on Thursday, March 29th, we have invited three prominent guest winemakers to showcase the dazzling variety of Greek wines. First, we have Maria Tamiolaki of Rhous Estate. Based in Crete, one of the oldest wine producing areas, Rhous Estate is an organic and family-run winery. Crete, which shares the same latitude as Morocco, has a cool climate buffeted with strong winds. The vineyards, located 500 meters above the sea level, experience cooling winds that travel up the island’s mountainside and slow down the ripening process of the grapes. The effect of the cooling winds, along with Crete’s mineral-rich clay soil, combine to produce rich, full-bodied wines that retain high acidity and minerality. And the Vidiano grape, which the Rhous Estate cultivates, was one of the most popular grapes in the Middle Ages, with trade routes extending throughout Europe from Marseilles to Sicily.
Next, we have Christos Kanellakopoulos of Venetsanos Winery. Located in Santorini, Venetsanos is one of the oldest wineries on the island. Santorini is a volcanic island that erupted in 1620, leading to many deaths and sending most of the island underwater. What remains of Santorini is a desert, with very little moisture except for the dew that collects at night with the drop in temperature. The soil on Santorini is largely comprised of sand as well as ash and pumice from the volcanic eruption. The ashen soil and the desert-like climate on the island give the Santorini wines a distinct lean quality—crisp and bone-dry, with a more polished and less textured feel than the Cretan wines.
And finally, we have Erifili and Dimitra Parparoussis of Parparoussis Winery. Founded in 1974, the winery is located in Patras, Greece’s north-western regions. Compared to Santorini, the climate is very lush and green, producing smooth and velvety wines that go exceptionally well with food. All of the wines are produced on the estate of Parparoussis Winery in Patras, except for one. Grown in Nemea, the Agiorgitiko is a red Greek wine grape variety—in fact, the most widely planted red grape variety in Greece. Called “The Blood of Hercules,” this is a powerful and bold red wine that pairs well with heavier meat dishes.
Join us to discover the rich and exciting world of Greek wine. Register here for the opportunity to meet the winemakers and sample six different delicious Greek wines alongside mouth-watering dishes that perfectly complement the unique flavor and aroma of each wine. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will transport you from the cold streets of New York to the balmy shores of Greece.