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Greece

Wine culture began in Greece, ostensibly with the infidelity of Zeus. Together with the beautiful Semele he fathered Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Greek winemaking has quite a tumultuous history. Today the industry is focusing its efforts on indigenous grape varieties and the latest techniques.

History

Greece is considered to be the motherland of European wine culture. The wines of ancient Greece were praised by great thinkers and scholars like Plato, Socrates and Homer. Grapevines were taken from here to other countries, helping to spread the Greeks' already highly developed viticultural know-how. In the modern era, it was not until after the Turkish occupation came to an end, which had brought winemaking to an almost complete standstill between the 15th and 19th centuries, that winemaking took off again.

Geography

Greece has a very favourable winegrowing climate. It has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and dry autumns. Greece is divided into nine winegrowing regions: Aegean Islands, Epirus, Ionian Islands, Crete, Macedonia, Peloponnese, Thessaly, Thrace and Central Greece.

Wines and grape varieties

Although the over 300 indigenous grape varieties predominate, international varieties are gradually gaining more ground. Only about 10% of the total vineyard hectarage is used for the production of quality wines. High-alcohol white wines are made from varieties such as Savatiano, Roditis, Moscato, Debina, Robola and Assyrtiko. Red grape varieties are Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne and Limnio. Greece's speciality is Retsina, a traditional wine flavoured with pine resin.

Wine laws

The Greek quality designations are in descending order of quality: Onomasia Proelefseos Eleghomeni (OPE) are wines of controlled origin. This is similar to the Italian DOCG designation and these wines have a blue paper strip on the bottle. Onomasia Proelefseos Anoteras Piotitos (OPAP) are superior quality wines with a designation of origin. This is similar to the Italian DOC designation and these wines have a red paper strip on the bottle. Topikos Oinos are country wines with a declaration of origin (corresponds to Italian IGT). Epitrapezios Oinos are table wines (corresponds to Italian vino da tavola).

Vineyard area and production volume

Approximately 113 000 hectares, around 3.9 million hectolitres per year.

Popular wines from Greece