- A BRIEF WALK THROUGH HISTORY
It is believed that wine was introduced in Greece around 4000 BC
and there is evidence, found on artifacts, that it was known to the Minoan and Mycenaean
Ancient Greeks considered that wine was
a gift from the gods and worshiped Dionysus, a creature with the mind of man
and the instincts of a beast, as god of wine. Festivals
honoring Dionysus were held during winter months and were celebrated by
performing arts and wine drinking. Vineyards, grapes and
wine drinking festivities were painted on hundreds of
ancient Greek artifacts of clay, marble and metal.
Homer times, wine cultivation was part of Greece's agriculture.
It is evident that wine was a drink for old and young Greeks. Tradition
says that infant Achilles was given wine with his meals. Even Ulysses
during his quest to return home used wine to gain control over
Polyphemus by getting him drunk and blinding him afterwards.
Greeks stored and transported wines in airtight, ceramic vessels called
amphorae. They also used a labeling system close to the one we have
today. The amphorae had various shapes with two handles, and
they were used to signify the city that produced and traded the
particular wine. The
amphorae had an inscription with the year of production and both
handles were used to place the wine-makers stamp on one and the local
ruler's stamp on the other. Also, the storage in amphorae had its benefits because it
allowed them to store wine for long periods thus creating brilliant aged vintage wines.
During the early Roman times Greeks introduced grape viticulture to
Sicily in south Italy. As time went by and the tradition was handed down from father to son,
the methods of wine cultivation improved. They used herbs and spices to
preserve and flavor their wines and made them well
known to the ancient world. It is not an exaggeration to say that Greece was
back then, what France is today, in wines.
The decline of wine cultivation started during the end of the Byzantine empire
and grapevines were virtually vanished during
the Ottoman empire. Greeks being under the Ottoman rule for five
centuries lost their continuity in tradition of wine cultivation. At that
time only a few areas in Greece cultivated wine and it was mostly in regions around monasteries.
This fact led to a long period of wine culture with minimal standards of taste and quality.
In our days, we stop in 1937 with the creation of the
Institute and in the 1960's when modern technology was applied by
the Greek wineries to produce a wide variety of fine wines.
Legislation helped to create local system of controlled production
called Quality Wines Produced In Registered Areas (V.Q.P.R.D.). Today approximately 20% of production is exported and 90%
of it is absorbed by EU member countries.