The making of Greek wine dates back over 6500 years. As the Greeks have are one of the oldest wine producing cultures in the world. As the Greeks increased their trade including wine, it was transported across the Mediterranean - as it was regarded with high prestige and fetched good prices across Europe.
Archaeological evidence suggests Greece might be home to the world’s second oldest wine production (after possibly Armenia) - with a number of grape winemaking remnants discovered. Wine grape vines are self-sown in Greece, and evidence of their existence can be traced before the Ice Age. The age old process of vine growing and winemaking in Greece are among the primordial activities of humankind in prehistoric times.

 

The first traces of wine production in Greece were found on the island of Crete. Several clay wine presses, wine cups, amphorae and wine seeds were discovered throughout the island - showing the important role that wine has played in Greek culture since these ancient times.
The spread of Greek civilization and their worship of Dionysus - ‘the god of wine’, spread throughout the Mediterranean during 1600 BC to year 1. Hippocrates used wine for medicinal purposes and often prescribed it. The Ancient Greeks introduced vines such as Vitis vinifera and made wine in their countless colonies; Sicily, and then the Italian mainland, southern France, Spain and Portugal to name just a few.
The ancient Greeks knew well the nutritional value of wine as it became an inseparable part of their daily routine. Ancient Greeks realized the important influence of local ecosystems on the characteristics of wine.
In more recent times, in 1937 a Wine Institute was established by the Ministry of Greek Agriculture. During the 1960s, Retsina (flavoured with pine resin) suddenly became the national wine, due to the rapid growth of tourism associating it with Greece and Greek wine - (if you do taste it, try it in Greece - served very, very cold and with a Greek salad with lots of olive oil). Amazingly Greece only planted its first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in 1963 and then in 1971 - they established their modern appellation rules.

The Greek Wine Appellation System includes:
• PGI Wines of Greece (Protected Geographical Indication)
• PDO Wines of Greece (Protected Designation of Origin) include the Greek wine category of ‘Designation of Origin Wines’ (AOQS and AOC).
• O.P.A.P. Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality, • O.P.E. Controlled Appellation of Origin.
• Topikos Oinos - Vin de Pays, • Epitrapezios Oinos - Vin de Table, includes wines with screw-caps. Then there is • Cava, more prestigious, aged ‘reserve’ blends (minimum aging: 2 years for whites; 3 years for reds).

The main wine growing regions of Greece - The Aegean Islands include:
Crete - Central Greece - Epirus - Ionian Islands - Macedonia and Peloponnese.

In recent years, the Greek wine industry has experienced vast improvements with serious investments in modern winemaking technology. The new generation of winemakers are being trained in the world’s best wine schools and their efforts are paying off, as Greek wines receive international awards as well as the recognition they deserve.
Greek wines are crafted from more than 300 indigenous grape varietals; some have been cultivated since ancient times, with many well-known international varietals also being used. This extensive variety of grapes along with the moderate Greek climate, ample sunshine, low rainfall and soils with moderate fertility combine to provide an ideal environment for the production of quality wines.
Thanks to Greece’s geographical location in the temperate Mediterranean region (latitude: 35° - 41° north), Greece’s proximity to the sea has a decisively beneficial influence, particularly on the terroir of coastal wine areas. Vineyards can be found on diverse soil and terrain, at altitudes varying between sea level and often in excess of 1000m - and when combined with mainly native cultivars, give Greek wines their unique and diverse personality - enjoy.