Greek Wine Cellars (Ritsona)

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 Greek Wine Cellars winery at Ritsona Viotia is one ╬┐f Europe’s largest with comprehensive state-of-the-art facilities. Its creation in the early 1980’s was as a result of the decision made by the company to diversify away from Retsina production and introduce an extended line of new wines. Since then the plant has been regularly upgraded, with cutting edge wine technology equipment installed. Today, the Ritsona winery covers a surface area of 33 stemmata (3.3 hectares) and during the harvest has a daily capacity of receiving and pressing up to 1 million kilograms of grapes in its ultra-modern, state-of-art wine presses (installed in 2008, at the same time as the addition of rotating fermentation tanks reserved for red wine vinification). Its wine storage capacity amounts to some 15 million liters, while its inox fermentation and storage tanks have their temperature and humidity levels electronically controlled. It is at Ritsona that all processing, blending, and filtering take place (all the white and rosé wines undergoing a freezing process using the “Crystal Flow” technology patented by Alfa Laval) and it is where the red wines are stored and aged until time to be bottled.