Like many things in history, the Greeks have a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ kind of reputation. Wine is no different – they’ve been growing and making it since around 500 BCE.
A third of all of Greece’s population lives on the eastern coast of Central Greece, and the area has diverse soils from rich to poor and has some of the highest mountains. Central Greece includes Attica and Thessaly and is divided by the Agrafa and Pindus mountains, known as the spine of Greece, extending south to Athens. The landscape is often harsh and forbidding, with impassable gorges and surrounding deep forests.
Macedonia, the central northern region on the Greek mainland, is the epicentre of fine red wine production in Greece. Plenty of the local Xinomavro planted here, along with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Central Greece is the country’s largest geographical region. It includes the southern part of the Greek mainland as well as the island of Evia to the East. Central Greece is located to the north of the Peloponnese and to the south of Thessaly and Epirus, bordering the Aegean Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the west and the Corinthian Gulf to the south.
The region boasts nine distinct Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) wine zones; PGI Atalanti Valley, PGI Slopes of Knimida, PGI Opountia Locris, PGI Phthiotis, PGI Parnassos, PGI Thiva, PGI Lilantio Pedio, PGI Evia and PGI Ritsona.
In Central Greece’s northern part, mostly red wine grapes are grown, including Xinomavro and Limniona. Xinomavro is grown in Rapsani, in the foothills of Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods in Greek mythology. It’s often blended with Krasato, a deep, red wine high in alcohol. The area has been referred to as the Rhone of Greece.
Limniona from Thessaly is among the rare red varieties that yield dense, rich wines, high in acidity without being overpowering. The wine has a deep, vibrant red colour, with rich aromas of dark fruit, spice, and a deep earthiness.
Near Athens in Attica, the climate changes to hotter and drier. Savatiano, a white grape, is the most planted grape in the area. Due to Savatiano’s low acidity, it is commonly blended with Roditis and Assyrtiko. It’s the grape that has been most maligned as the main grape in Retsina, Greece’s famous resinous wine, but attitudes are slowly changing toward Savatiano.
The region of Central Greece is on the Eastern side of the Pindus and Agrafa mountains, which divide mainland Greece all the way down to Athens. This area is more arid than Northern Greece, with a climate somewhat similar to Napa Valley or parts of Sonoma near Mount Olympus (an area for reds). It is also much hotter and drier in the South.
The climate is Mediterranean, with heavy continental influence from the extensive mountain summits that can exceed 2,000m in elevation. Central Greece is home to five of Greece’s biggest lakes and, together with the rivers running through the mountains, they create a number of unique mesoclimates between the mountain masses.
Past Tours to Central Greece
A truly unique wine tour in Central Greece, not offered by any other wine operator. Amongst the wine regions of Greece, the vineyards of Central Greece are maybe the most diverse as far as soil and climate is concerned. They include the vineyards of Thessaly (Mesenikolas, Anchialos, Tyrnavos) and of Central Greece (Fthiotida, Viotia, Attica). Here many traditional vineyards but also modern plantations meet, and where we spent a fabulous five days exploring. Not just the wines, but the ancient monuments and heritage of this world-renowned country, and its fabulous gastronomy too.