Nectar of Cephalonia

“It is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs, laugh like a fool-
it drives the man to dancing…
it even temps him to blurt out stories better never told”.

Homer, The Odyssey, p481

 

When Odysseus comes home to Ithaca, after 20 years of absence, and is in disguise, he has a conversation about wine to his faithful and sympathetic swineherd, Eumaeus, about wine. According to Greek Mythology, Kephalos, was the son of Mercury and Ersis, the daughter of King Kekropas. The gods sent Kephalos away from Athens. After years of wandering, he ended up at Athenian Earth, a colony of his native land lying on the Ionian Sea. He killed the ferocious pirates “Televoes” that oppressed the island and, immediately after, he planted a vine to remind him of the fertile vineyard of Attica, his homeland.

Wine - Nectar of Cephalonia


The island was named, after him, Kefalonia, and the vineyard grew, multiplied and became a valuable heritage. After thousands of years, it was transformed into white and red grapes of Tsaousi, Thiniatiko, Vostilidi or Gustolidi, Moschato, Robola, Mavrodaphne.

Wine - Nectar of Cephalonia

According to the Homer’s writings, Laertis, father of the "cunning Odysseus (or Ullyses)", had a vine with 19 rows of different grape varieties! The wines of Cephalonia were known since ancient times, consisting of the most appreciable gift! The Homeric heroes drank wine to hold friendships, create new bounds, dispel misunderstandings, and build alliances.

In Homer’s poems Iliad & Odyssey, nectar is the drink and ambrosia is the food. In the Odyssey, Calypso is described as having “spread a table with ambrosia and set it by Hermes, and mixed the rosy-red nectar”.

Nowadays, Robola, Mavrodaphne, Tsaousi, Vostilidi, Muscat & Moschatella -- different varieties cultivated on the island—are considered to be the new “Nectar of Cephalonia

Today, 2/3 of the vineyards of Cephalonia are located in mountainous or semi-mountainous areas, mainly on limestone ground particularly poor in organic material. The island’s climate is mild, quite rainy and the mount of Aenos “Black Mountain” offers extremely favorable conditions. All the above, in combination with the low yield per acre and the small size of the vineyard plots (averaging 4.5 acres per grower), have defined the viniculture type.
The variety mostly cultivated is Robola and secondary the white Muscat, Mavrodaphne, Tsaousi, Vostilidi or Goustolidi, Zakynthino (one of the very rare varieties of Kefalonia, which has moved centuries from neighboring Zakynthos. A totally unique variety that will ideally accompany a Kefalonia pie), and fragrant Moschatella which is the islands exclusivity.
The above varieties produce 3 Protected Georgaphical Indication (P.G.I) wines: Slopes of Enos, Metaxata, Mantzavinata and 2 protected Destination of Origin (P.D.O): sweet Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia and white Muscat of Cephalonia. The top wine of the island is PDO Robola of Cephalonia. This famous variety is, mainly, cultivated in the southern and central part of the island, and on 3,000 acre vineyard stretching, reaching a height of 800 meters. The plants are planted literally on stone, hence the name Vino di Sasso (wine of stone) given by the Venetians to Robola.

Wine - Nectar of Cephalonia

 

Nowadays, six dynamic wineries of Cephalonia, each with its special and distinct personality, preserve the wine heritage of the island, producing wines that honor their history and tradition, looking ahead at a promising future.

 

Cephalonia Robola Wine Cooperative

Cephalonia Robola Wine Cooperative

At the monastery of Saint Gerasimos, on the plateau of Omala, at the heart of the Robola vineyards, you will find the Cephalonia Robola Wine Cooperative, the largest producer on the island with a total production of half a million bottles, which buys grapes from 300 growers and produces the 80% of the wine in the PDO area of Cephalonia. The Agricultural Cooperative of Robola wine producers of Cephalonia was founded in 1982. Its San Gerasimo Robola, sourced from high-altitude vineyards at 800m above sea level, signs of tension, purity and precision. Jasmine and thyme, peaches and minerals. Beautiful acidity, a food wine for a wide range of fish and cooked white poultry.


Although the Cooperative is cultivating the majority of local vine varieties such as Moshato, Moshatela, Tsaousi, Vostilidi, Zakinhtino, Mavrodafni and Skilopnixti, Robola is the spearhead of its production.


The aim of the Cooperative was to rebrand themselves in a way that pays tribute to the island’s tradition and history, highlights the uniqueness of terroir and helps them move forward to a new era.


Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions, are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.
Τhe brand name “OREALIOS GAEA” consists of the words OROS (mountain) and SEA (Als in Ancient Greek), and underlines the coexistence of the alpine nature of Mt. Ainos and the Ionian Sea that surrounds it, creating the exquisite terroir resulting in Robola’s unique taste.

 

Melissinos-Petrakopoulos Winery

From there, you can take the road to the Mt Aenos National Park with its unique black fir trees and pay a visit to the Melissinos-Petrakopoulos winery in Thiramonas.

melissinos petrakopoulos winery kefalonia

This artisanal winery set up by entrepreneur Nikos Petakopoulos, produces not more than 25,000 bottles. A fascinating range of three Robolas and two Mavrodaphnes showcases the complete array of flavours and textures these varieties can create. The complex pre-phylloxera Mavrodaphne is particularly worth tasting.

 

Gentilini Winery & Vineyard

gentilini winery vineyard kefalonia

Minies village is the location of Gentilini Winery & Vineyards. Founded in 1984, Gentilini is now run by the second generation. The winery organizes detailed wine tours and produces an engaging range of wines including the mineral Wild Paths Robola and a dense, velvety Mavrodaphne.

 

Orgion - Sklavos wines kefaloniaSclavos Wines

Located in Paliki, near Lixouri, Sclavos Wines has embraced biodynamics and natural winemaking, crafting wines which need time in the glass to blossom.

Sclavos family has a long history of wine making and the family tradition can be traced back to few generations. They started in 1860 in Odissos with a huge wine storage unit and then later on in 1919 the family created the first vineyard in Kechriona, Paliki Peninsula in Kefalonia.

The majority of their wine growing areas have been in the Paliki peninsula and the current head of operations is Evriviadis Sclavos, a professional viticulturist who has adopted the system of biodynamic agriculture. The vines bear mild treatment methods for the diseases of the vineyards while the fertilization is based on organic plants.

They use biological cultivation since 1996.

 

 

 

 

Sklavos wines kefalonia

Sclavos wines are offered in the best restaurants and hotels of Kefalonia. His Synodos blend of Mavrodaphne and Vostilidi is scented and poised, with firm structure; while the hard- to- pronounce Metageitnion (Μεταγειτνιών) is singular synthesis of 100-year-old Vostilidi vines. An unforgettable orange wine with chunks of nuts, dried fruit and jam, with wonderful aromas and endless aftertaste. Enjoy it with blue, very good quality cheese. Also try brilliant Vini di Sasso Robola and Orgion Red wine.

 

Foivos

foivos wines kefalonia

Another producer worth visiting in Paliki is Foivos, where they, have experimented with ageing wines under water and have a wine museum. The Orcopopoulos family has attributed the highly poetic characterization "archaeotropic" to its experimental Mavrodaphni. Trying to approach the way of wine production in antiquity he applied some of the techniques of the season by wine-making the wine in amphora, a container in which he wine matures for 3 months. Later the wine was allowed to ripen under the water, a very trendy technique that has been discussed a lot in recent years. The reason of this popular ageing method is the very good condition of the early-century wines found in various merchant shipwrecks, which has proven that the conditions of darkness, humidity, constant temperature and absence of oxygen prevailing deep, under the water, form the ultimate ageing environment.

 

Haritatos Vineyard

haritatos vineyard kefalonia

Nearby is Haritatos Vineyard, which, alongside Foivos, produces solid examples of Robola, Mavrodaphne and Muscat. Organic, Mavrodaphne cultivation from a small boutique estate. Scents of cherry and plum jam, chocolate and cappuccino create a tasty explosion with nice tannins and long aftertaste. Ideal for BBQ, but also for Greek pastitsio.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll discover that Cephalonia is a stunning destination, offering beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and some of the best wines in Greece.
The popular time to visit is summer but, as with most of Greece, it’s best to avoid mid-August when the island can be crowded. Instead choose June, early July or, even better, September.

Wines and Vineyards - nectar of cephalonia

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