Greece has arguably one of the longest wine histories in the world as wine has always been an integral part of Greek culture since antiquity. Greece might not be the first country to produce wine, but what can be attributed to Ancient Greece is the development of a culture encompassing all aspects of wine: vine growing, production, legislation, trading and, of course, the art of consuming wine. As a beverage and carrier of civilisation, wine was catapulted to a level unprecedented and unrepeated until, perhaps, the 19th century. From the development of appellation regimes to the emergence of wine writers and the important role, during symposia, of the oinohoos—the equivalent of the modern-day sommelier—wine in Ancient Greece was dealt with in a most sophisticated manner.
Evidence of the long history of wine in Greece is apparent even today. Historic vineyards with an unbroken track record of several millennia abound. The epitome of this prestigious group of vineyards must be Santorini, with an own-rooted, phylloxera-free vineyard, which is a remarkable 3,500-year-old world monument. Many of these distinctive ecosystems developed through natural selection and are located in areas protected from most vine pests and vine diseases. Therefore, the vast majority of Greek vineyards are suitable for organic cultivation or other alternative methods of viticulture since the need for frequent chemical spraying has been largely eliminated.
Despite their huge heritage, the Wines of Greece can promote themselves solely by virtue of their present attributes and not past glories. In the last three decades, a wind of change has been blowing through Greek wine production, turning a relatively traditional agricultural sector into a cutting-edge entity in today’s wine world. Greek producers have invested heavily in people, education, know-how and technology, starting a steep learning curve. The level of wine quality currently coming out of Greece can match any other country, but there are several other features that make the Wines of Greece stand apart.