NEW YORK – Five Greek winemakers were featured in Vinepair as part of “Greece’s dynamic wine scene”- Douloufakis Winery, Kir-Yianni, Alpha Estate, Domaine Skouras, and Domaine Sigalas.
“Douloufakis Winery was established in the heart of Crete back in 1930, though its modern-day story begins with Nikos Douloufakis,” Vinepair reported, adding that “after studying enology at the Instituto Agrario-Specializzato in Viticoltura e Enologia in Piedmont, Italy, Douloufakis returned to the island in 1993 to take over operations at the estate” and “despite his love for tradition, Douloufakis had bigger plans for the family’s land.”
“Since my first vintage, everything and nothing has changed,” he told Vinepair, noting that “the vineyard has tripled in size, though more importantly, it’s also completely transitioned to organic farming.”
“In addition to implementing more sustainable farming practices, yields have also been lowered, and harvest is done much earlier to preserve acidity and adapt to ever-changing climate conditions,” Vinepair reported.
“Back in the 1930s, my grandfather Dimitris was one of the first winemakers on the island to manage his vineyard in a [commercial] way,” Douloufakis told Vinepair, adding that “today, Douloufakis finds that meshing technology and modern equipment with a traditional mentality is the best way to honor his ancestors’ legacy.”
“I’m following my family tradition, but much like my grandfather Dimitris, I am passionate about innovation,” he told Vinepair.
“In Naoussa and Amyndeon, Stelios Boutaris also cites that his ‘vineyard-focused mentality’ has been the biggest change he’s brought to his family’s estates,” Vinepair reported, noting that “his father Yiannis Boutaris founded Kir-Yianni back in 1997, and after studying and working abroad in both the UK and USA, Stelios eventually returned and took over in 2004.”
“Our philosophy is that innovation builds tradition, both in the vineyard and the winery,” he told Vinepair, noting that “under his oversight, pesticides have been eliminated, yields have been dropped, and unique clones have been planted.”
“In Amyndeon, Angelos Iatridis and Makis Mavridis have been working to advance viticulture and vinification at Alpha Estate,” Vinepair reported, adding that “the pair first planted their vines in 1995 and released their first commercial wine 10 years later.”
“At the time, we were seen as irrational for creating a vineyard that would be a reference for the Amyndeon appellation,” Iatridis told Vinepair, noting that “from the beginning, Alpha Estate has been focused on quality and innovation.”
“In 1995, Alpha Estate was the first winery in all of Europe to install subsoil irrigation and incorporate regulated deficit irrigation in its regimen,” Vinepair reported, adding that “Iatridis notes that 590 miles of irrigation pipes were buried in the subsoil at 40 centimeters deep, and the structures are still used today,” and “in fact, Alpha Estate was the first property in all of Europe to apply this process of regulated deficit irrigation.”
“To monitor the effects of climate change in his vineyards, Douloufakis has implemented microclimatic stations to gather data on soil, humidity, rainfall, frost, and overall temperature,” Vinepair reported.
“I am also using soil analysis and topographic maps to obtain information on the differential features defining our terroir,” he told Vinepair.
Douloufakis also switched from new barrels to mostly used oak. “I noticed that with slightly higher alcohol, the impact of new barrels felt more intense,” he told Vinepair, adding that “today, neutral oak is preferred.”
George Skouras founded Domaine Skouras “in Nemea back in 1986, after studying enology and working in France,” Vinepair reported. “Starting my own winery had many difficulties, like renting vines and facilities and entering the Greek market, but I had so much passion for this that nothing stopped me,” Skouras told Vinepair, which pointed out that “what started with a few leased vineyards has since grown to 40 estate-owned hectares, which are now being passed along to his children, Stella and Dimitris.”
Skouras “always had a passion for native Greek grapes, yet remained open-minded to international vinification and aging methods” Vinepair reported. “This led me to use Stelvin closures for white wines, as well as implement a solera system for dry red wines,” he told Vinepair, noting that “his winery was the first in Greece to release wines under screw cap closures.”
“It took a lot of time and marketing to make it acceptable to consumers, especially in Greece,” he told Vinepair.
“Domaine Sigalas was founded by Paris Sigalas on the island of Santorini back in 1991,” Vinepair reported, adding that “after receiving a degree in mathematics in Athens and an MBA in France, Paris returned back to his native island, where his family had a small, non-commercial winery, and began experimenting with viticulture” and “found himself becoming more passionate about Santorini’s native grape varieties by the day, specifically Mavrotragano and Aidani.”
“Sigalas also helped the winemaking of Santorini move further from the oxidative character wines had until the ’80s,” Lambros Papadimitriou, the winery’s general manager told Vinepair.
“My key initiative is to develop and push forward the Cretan indigenous varieties,” Douloufakis told Vinepair, adding that “while I am clearly focused on the future, I am also returning to my roots in a way.”
Douloufakis pointed out that “ancient vinification styles (and vessels) are also seeing a renaissance across Greece, specifically at his estate” where he and his sons “recently produced a skin-macerated wine in Greek amphorae — a technique that his grandfather used nearly a century ago,” Vinepair reported, noting that “with the rise of consumer interest in orange wines, he likely won’t be the last to look to this ancient technique.”
Boutaris told Vinepair that “we adhere to the philosophy that ‘we want to grow the pie for everyone, rather than taking the whole of it’ — in other words, we share information and knowledge, train young people who will move on to new ventures, and will therefore be more likely to promote our regions,” adding that “Kir-Yianni was one of the first estates to really invest in wine tourism in Naoussa and Amyndeon, with hopes of turning them into significant wine destinations.”
“Since its beginnings, Sigalas has put in [the] forefront the common good of Santorini’s vineyard,” Papadimitriou told Vinepair, noting that “Domaine Sigalas was also one of the first wineries in Santorini to focus on exports, which both encouraged and paved the way for many others to do so.”