Greece is not just about the blue of the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, as this is most of the times what is has been imprinted into visitor’s mind. Greece is predominantly mountainous and almost 80% of its total acreage is covered by high mountains. Mountains exist not only in mainland Greece but also in the islands. For example, mountains account for a large proportion of Crete, the largest Greek island, forming a spine that runs across the island from west to east. Mountain Ainos is also an imposing figure of Cephalonia and in its slopes lies the vineyard of Robola.
Mainland Greece is dominated by the Pindos Mountain range which is an extension of the Central European Alps and forms an arc that continues to the southeastern part of the Peloponnese. The PDO Zitsa vineyard (ΠΟΠ Ζϊτσα) is located in the highlands of the Pindos mountains. Olympus, the highest peak in Greece, is located east of Pindos and close to the sea. On its slopes stretches the beautiful vineyard of Rapsani. Consequently, a great majority of the Greek vineyards are found on the slopes of the hills and the mountains. These mountains, provide high elevations that escape much of the summer heat and a sheer number of different altitudes, aspects and soils suitable for grape-growing. In many cases altitude is more important than latitude.
A typical example of the above is the vineyard of PDO Mantinia (ΠΟΠ Μαντινεία) which rests in the heart of Peloponnese. Although the latitude is southern, the vineyard plateau is located at an altitude of 660m, above sea-level. As a result, Moschofilero grape is capable of producing low in alcohol and full of freshness wines that are close in terms of style to a central European wine than a Mediterranean one.
At a point when the world-market is looking after finesse and elegance and the climate change leads to a constant rise of alcohol levels, the Greek mountains offer the possibility to Greeks winemakers to produce wines that are bursting with energy and freshness. However, working a mountainous vineyard is labor intensive and needs great effort and dedication from the grower. And this should be always part of the discussion.