One of the largest collections of corkscrews in the world can be found at a must-visit winery in northern Greece. At the Gerovassiliou winery of course! During my journeys of discovering wineries and wines, I was very excited to visit the Gerovassiliou winery. It is very easy to reach via a 20-minute drive from the centre of Thessaloniki toward the Halkidiki peninsula. This region, which is the pride of the Thessaloniki people, is sometimes called “the three most beautiful legs of Greece”. Undoubtedly, it is the gem of the Macedonia region.
A renaissance for Greek grapes
The location is idyllic, with the entire area overlooking the Thermaikos Gulf and flirting with Mount Olympus when weather permits. Ktima Gerovassiliou participated in the development of Wine Routes of Northern Greece. It is currently one of four members of the Wine Routes of Thessaloniki. The founder and owner Vangelis Gerovassiliou was one of Emile Peynaud’s students. After completing his studies in Bordeaux, Vangelis was invited to work in the Porto Karas Winery.
Νοt only did he make the winery famous to the world but more importantly he made a reality of his dream of reviving ancient local Greek grape varieties. Τhe Greek white grape variety which is nowadays loved by many wine lovers in the world, the aromatic malagouzia variety, was reborn in Porto Karas winery and further explored at the Gerovassiliou winery. Nowadays malagouzia belongs in the ‘’pantheon’’ of Greek grape varieties standing tall next to Santorini’s assyrtiko.
It was 1981 that he decided to expand the family vineyard that he owned. Vangelis Gerovassiliou is not just another winemaker though. As mentioned, he worked hard to revive some ancient Greek varieties that otherwise might have become extinct. Malagouzia, maurotragano, mauroudi and limnio were brought to life partially thanks to his efforts.
The latter three varieties, maurotragano, mauroudi and limnio find their finest expression in the Avaton wine. The name means hard to get through, a no-go zone, as the winemaker was the first to blend these three varieties. Complex aromas dominated by blackberries and dried herbs. Velvety tannins and chocolate on the finish. It is aged in French oak barrels and its characteristics develop beautifully as time passes.
A family winery
Marianthi Gerovassiliou, whom I met, explained that all five family members are involved in the winery. She was very enthusiastic about their family business and introduced me to their Museum collection white wine. It is a fine blend of the five white varieties (malagousia, assyrtiko, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier) that are found in the vineyards. The wine is gold in colour and has a full body. It displays honey, nuts, exotic fruits and butter on the nose. I would pair it with a fresh sea bream.
Exploring the area around the vines, I was captivated by aromas of mountain herbs. Looking down I saw lovingly planted rows of various herbs. They are widely used in the winery’s own restaurant.
There is also an experimental vineyard of twenty-five Greek grape varieties, confirming the family’s passion for experimenting and innovating. Even though I am not a winemaker myself, I do realize that winemaking is (all) about experimentation.
Immersion in the Wine History of the Area
Old winemaking and wine drinking traditions come to life in the wonderful Gerovassiliou Museum. It was interesting to learn about wine rituals in ancient Greece and Greek mythology in school but it is much different here by bringing it closer to reality. The items are authentic; the shells on the amphorae are ancient and even the faint illumination helps to make the place almost seem holy. The private collection of corkscrews boasts more than 2,600 items. Old winemaking tools and equipment are also on display. Τhe tasting of two premium wine at the end of the tour made the experience complete. Thank you, Marianthi and Evelina, for the hospitality. I will definitely come back next summer.
Marina Mirzabekian, a WSET graduate, writes about Armenian and Greek wines, born in Greece she lives in Armenia since several years.
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