In 1895, Vassili Kourtakis (1865-1946) founded his company in Kolokotroni Street, Athens. In 1905 he established a small winery at Markopoulo, in the Mesogea, some 30 klms outside Athens. His son, Dimitris Kourtakis (1908-2005) started the commercialization of bottled wine and expanded distribution all over Greece. Now, more than a century later, the company remains fully owned and managed by the Kourtakis family. It has played a lead role in the modern history of Greek wine. The third generation is represented by Vassili Kourtakis, under whose management the company has become one of the largest wine producing and bottling companies in Greece. In 1992, a commercial partnership began with Oenoexagogiki S.A. This company was later fully absorbed and now its wines under the Calliga brand are produced and marketed by Vassili Kourtakis. In 2000 the company changed its name to “Greek Wine Cellars S.A.”. In 2004 the company began a commercial partnership with vintner Angelos Rouvalis, and purchased 50 % of “Oenoforos S.A.” based in Aigio. At this time the company’s operations were split into 3 divisions : Kourtaki, Calliga and Oenoforos.
The annual production of Greek Wine Cellars is approximately 30 mil bottles, 50 % of which is exported. The company has always been at the forefront in implementing new methods and investing in modern technology with the aim of constantly improving the wines it produces and being in the vanguard of the developments taking place in Greek wine-making.
The main Greek Wine Cellars winery is at Markopoulo, Attica. Here bottling takes place. The Ritsona winery in central Greece uses some of the most modern vinification technology in Europe. Other regional wineries exist in the Peloponnese on the plateau of Mantinia, and in the regions of Nemea, Patras and Aigio and near to Heraclion in Crete. Here are produced wines with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
In particular, the first Greek Wine Cellars winery was established at Markopoulo in the early 20th century (1905) by the company’s founder, and grandfather of the company’s current CEO Vassili Kourtakis. Since its foundation this winery has steadily expanded in size as well as facilities. Most of the company’s wines are bottled here. Until 1963 the plant consisted of a winery that simply gathered the grapes of the surrounding Mesogia plain, pressed them, and vinified the resulting must. The fresh wine was distributed to taverns around Attica, which at the time maintained their own barrels. After 1963, when the company stopped selling wine in bulk and began bottling its products, it set up its first bottling plant at Markopoulo. In the1970’s the company moved its headquarters from downtown Athens to Markopoulo into newly built offices next to the winery. Today, the winery covers a surface of 28 stremmata (2,8 hectares), has a wine storage capacity of around 160.000 HL, 6.000 sq.m of storage warehouses, 4 bottling lines with a capacity exceeding 140.000 per day, 1200 sq.m. of office space and large open spaces serving the needs for handling raw materials, packaging items, and ready goods.