Wines of North Greece


North Greece is one of the most privileged and dynamic vine-growing regions in the country. It is a large area which extends from the Ioanian Sea in the West to the River Evros in the East, and from the northern borders of the country with Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria down to Mount Olympus in Central Greece. The history and tradition of vine-growing and wine in this region have their roots in ancient times. On Olympus, the mythical mountain, the Gods enjoyed drinking Nectar, far from the eyes of mortals. According to mythology, on the lush green slopes of Mount Vermion, in Naoussa, lived Semele, mother of Dionysus – the God of vine and wine – who roamed around the foothills of Mount Pangeon in Drama. In the incredible mosaic floor of an ancient villa at Pella, the God Dionysus is depicted riding on a panther. Furthermore, Odysseus got the Cyclops Polyphemus drunk on smooth, fragrant wine from Maronia in Thrace.

The company Wines of North Greece, with its prominent winery members, operates in this region, with its thousand-year vine and wine tradition. Small family-run wineries, modern units equipped with the latest technology, as well as some of the largest winemaking companies in the country are located here, producing their wines and inviting us to discover them. And if every glass of wine tells a story about the place and the people who created it, North Greece and its people have many pleasant surprises in store for us.

The vine-growing region of North Greece

Large open plains crossed by rivers and semi-mountainous areas with low, gentle hills. Tall mountains and enclosed plateaus kept cool by the breeze from large and small lakes. In the background lies the lacy coastline, surrounded by the Aegean and Ionian Seas. The topography of North Greece is complex and interesting, with a varied natural environment. The gentle Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and sunny summers, and the ideal soil composition contribute to the creation of many micro-regions with specific ecosystems.

This is particularly beneficial for vine-growing, and for the production of many different types of wine with character and particularity. Indigenous grape varieties, as well as cosmopolitan ones that have been well acclimatized to the region, enjoy the attention of experienced vintners in the vineyards of Northern Greece. There are approximately 300 native Greek grape varieties. They are a valuable asset for the unique character of Greek wines.

Many of these can be found in the North Greek vineyards. Xinomavro, the finest red grape variety in North Greece, is grown here, and dominates the composition of PDO wines from Naoussa, Amynteo, Goumenissa and Rapsani, being closely identified with these regions. Xinomavro wines have a multidimensional and distinct character. They can be distinguished by their deep red colour and characteristic aroma of red fruits which, after aging in oak barrels, develops into a rich bouquet of spices with typical notes of tomato. This also softens the tannins that give the wine its good structure and richness. They are wines with excellent ageing potential.

Other Greek red grape varieties in the vineyards of North Greece are Negoska, Krasato, Stavroto, Moschomavro, Limnio, Mavroudi and Vlachiko. The main indigenous white grape varieties grown in the region are Debina, Roditis, Athiri, Assyrtiko and Malagouzia. Alongside the Greek grape varieties grow some very well acclimatized cosmopolitan varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache Rouge and other, rarer varieties. Topography, soil, climate, varieties: All the necessary ingredients to create a great wine coexist harmoniously in North Greece. The vintners and wine-producers of the region make use of the tradition, their experience and skills to develop dynamically. Their produce, the Wines of North Greece, are Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication wines with identity and character, which honour their place of origin as they travel around the world.

The Wine Routes of the Wine Roads of Northern Greece

• The Wine Route of the Olympian Gods
• The Wine Route of Epirus
• The Wine Route of the Lakes
• The Wine Route of Naoussa
• The Wine Route of Pella & Goumenissa
• The Wine Route of Thessaloniki
• The Wine Route of Halkidiki
• The Wine Route of Dionysus

A total of 36 wineries maintain an open door policy to visitors all year long for winetastings, excursions to the wineries and vineyards, local happenings and events. I Organising an annual international wine competition, the Thessaloniki International Wine Competition, unique in Greece, with the goal of presenting and promoting quality international wines to professionals and the general public. Every March, during the Competition, which is organized under the auspices of the O.I.V. (International Organization of Vine and Wine), well known foreign and Greek wine professionals (oenologists, sommeliers and journalists) taste and judge wines from Greece and abroad for the three days of the competition. The winners of the competition receive their awards at the annual Gala awards ceremony, while the public is given the opportunity to taste the award-winning wines at a wine tasting event every year after the end of the competition.

The ‘Thessaloniki International Wine Competition’ is constantly growing as the amount of participating wine producers increases every year. The quality of the samples submitted improves each year as well, providing strong evidence that this competition has become a major institution for Greek wine. In addition, the medals of the competition are universally acknowledged by professionals and consumers both in Greece and abroad. I Organizing gastronomic and cultural events and conferences with the goal of familiarizing Greek and foreign visitors with our rich wine and gastronomic traditions and culture in association with select dining venues, interdisciplinary meetings and cultural activities. The established wine tasting event `VorOina` (VorOina = a tasting of wines from the vineyards of Northern Greece, Vor-Oina=ΒορΟινά, from Βορράς, Vorras=north, and Οινά=Oina from oinos=οίνος=wine) takes place in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities annually and is an excellent opportunity for professionals and the general public to taste the current vintage releases of the association’s producers. Open Doors at the wineries of `Wine Roads of Northern Greece`: Every year the winemakers and members of the wine tourism network “Wine Roads of Northern Greece” welcome wine lovers to their wineries in a festive mood during the second weekend of May.

Visitors enjoy guided tours, get the chance to taste exceptional wines and the opportunity to purchase rare vintages at special prices while enjoying the many happenings and events during these days. I Providing education for people interested in wine-related occupations, such as restaurant ownership, hoteliers, waiters, special wine guides, etc. I Participating in and collaborating with international societies and organizations with similar objectives.

The development of this type of cooperation in wine tourism reinforces the positive results of our activities as well as aiding the local regional economy. I Participating in international trade fairs in Greece and abroad.

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