Travel. From either the early French travailler or Middle English travailen “to work hard,” “to make a journey” and “to torment.” The word conjures up intellection of exaggeration and impression, of simulacrum and eidolon. To think about picking up and going somewhere is nothing if not exciting. Embracing the notion of a journey makes mindful the portent for drifts far away and also those of inward retreat.
Travel in search of and on behalf of wine encompasses the territories defined in the etymology of the word. Yes, it is fun, certainly it can be glamorous and without equivocation, requires work ethic, stamina and focus. Then there is the travel, for work, with wine, to Greece. No journey with grapes in mind might be apprised in kind, of reflection, revelation and utter exhalation than what dwells in a rendezvous in specie with the northern Peloponnese. In Achaia, the confluence of grapes, gastronomy and tourism simply blows the mind. It also brings about utter balance and an ingress back down to earth.
Related – Till I reach Achaia ground
The variegated landscape of Achaia, from Selinous to Kalavryta, from Patras to Ano Diakofto, are to a winemaker a place of great passion, history and in many respects, a supernatural calling from the processes of human imagination. It is here where the great Greek paradox is lived, like mysticism and mathematics conjoined, in the attitude of Greek philosophical winemaking. The work is achieved through the dichotomy of platonic thought and socratic character. Making wine from endemic or indigenous grapes is a calling to a higher love, in spite of harsh conditions, geographical difficulties and the relative channels of global obscurity.
Winemakers do not worry or care about what stands in their way. Here they make wine because that is what they know from, but now it is more than that. Today the younger, aspiring viti-viniculturalists have European oenology degrees and come armed with a profane, ecumenical arsenal to make clean and progressive wines. The whole consolidation is awesome and yet Greek wine will never be mainstream. The people just like to drink their own wine. They export less than five per cent of their output and in Achaia, the number is even lower. It is high time for the world to sing bring me Achaia love.
While the allure of vine and wine are the most important agricultural draws in Achaia, tourism is inextricably tied to points of interest dotted throughout the region. A ride up through the Vouraikos Canyon on the Diokfto to Kalavryta rack railway is essential towards understanding geology, topography and climate variation.
The Monastery of Megalo Spileo (Big Cave) oversees the great sloping vineyard of the Cavino stable and the Cave of the Lakes (Spilaio Limnon) are one of the great wonders of the (under) world. The Hades connection is not lost on anyone who walks through the subterranean, mythos labyrinth of rock and water.
The port city of Patras houses the architecturally and historically significant early civilization collection at the Archaeological Museum of Patras. An Achaian visit is made complete on a spectacular Patras beach such as Pounta and a trip across (and return by ferry) the not to be believed until having seen it Rio-Antirio Bridge.
Now the food. The unavoidable truth in Achaian pastime is one of variegated and highly diverse gastronomy. The cuisine from down on the Rio-Patras shore and up into the hills of Eigalia and Kalavryta makes perfect and surfeited use of local products.
Fish and lamb are at every meal though the briarean advantage of vegetarian options offers an immense and restorative upside. Meals are long, extensive and dangerously satiating.
Where to stay
Electra Plaza Hotel, 18 N. Nikodimou Str., 10557 Athens, Greece, 30 210 337 0000
Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Alexandras Avenue 10, 10682, Athens, Greece. 30 210 889 4500, email@example.com
Porto Rio Hotel and Casino, Syrogianni, Rio, Achaia 265 00, Greece, 30 261 099 2102.
Situated in a verdant oasis near the city of Patra, surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Patraiko Gulf, the famous Rio-Antirrio Bridge and Mt Panachaiko.
Studios Tetramythos, Ano Diakofto, Άνω Διακοφτό, Diakofto 251 00, Greece, 30 2691 097367, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owned and operated by brothers Aristos and Stathis Spanos.
Where to eat
Aleria Restaurant, Meg. Alexandrou 57, Athens 104 35, Greece, 30 21 0522 2633.
Chef Gikas Xenakis spins old-school Greek cuisine in modern, deconstructive ways. Structured flavours pop and inspire.
Kuzina Restaurant, Adrianou 9, Athens 105 55, Greece, 30 21 0324 0133.
Stylish gastronomy up on the terrace (Tarazza) with stunning views beneath the moonlight, Acropolis and Ifestos Temple.
“W” Rio, Posidonos 12, Rio, Greece, 30 261 099 5772.
Outdoor terrace restaurant directly on the shore of the Corinthian Gulf and the Rio-Antirrio Bridge.
One of the most well known traditional fish tavernas next to the bridge with a great selection of local wine and terrific meze.
Naut-oiko, Posidonos 12, Rio 265 04, Rio, Greece. 30 261 099 5992, email@example.com
Specialties: Salanova with grilled potato, cottage cheese and mustard vinegar, Greek village pies with feta, tomato and onion, Pork Gyro, Small Balls of Meat on Grill, Veal with Green Beans.
Istioploikos Omilos Patron, Iroon Polytechniou , 26500, Map, Patra – Downtown, 211 7909399
Pounta Beach Restaurant, Patras
To Katafygio, 15ο km. Provincial Road Poudas – Kalavrita, 30 269 109 7292, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home cooking at its Kalvritan best, of homemade spanakopita pie and braised meats to die for. Breathtaking view up in the mountains on the Kalavrita-Pounta Provincial road, on a pass with views of many peaks and the Corinthian Gulf.
Where to drink
Paradiso Restaurant, Ioannou Apostolopoulou 58, Chalandri 152 31, Athens, Greece, 30 21 0672 2290
By the glass, 3 G. Souris Str & Philellinon, Athens, Greece, 30 210 3232 560
Sometimes a little, persistent or incessant lobbying can effect change, even at the LCBO. At the Danforth outlet of the LCBO, the largest collection of Greek wines (said to exist outside of Greece) is now to be found. This is no doubt in part with thanks to Steve Kriaris of The Kolonaki Group. Mr. Kriaris and his successful online shopgreekwine.com is an innovative model to champion and sell Greek wine. Kudos to the liquor board for the leap of hellenic faith. Representation for Achaian wine is negligible, though you can purchase Tentura Liqueur by Loukatos. The Mega Spileo Red is currently being presented in the consignment program. (Represented by United Stars (Michael Polienko, email@example.com)
Authorities on Achaia
A visit to Achaia begins with the New Wines of Greece, the national inter-professional organization of vine and wine of Greece, based in Athens, headed up by Sofia Perpera and George Athanas. Perpera is a Bordeaux trained Oenologist and former Director of the Greek Wine Federation.
Menos Angelakis is head of the trade missions unit for Menos Angelakis is head of the trade missions unit for Enterprise Greece, 109 Vasillisis Avenue, 115 21, Athens, Greece, 30 210 335 5735, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chamber of Achaia is the office charged with the responsibility for commerce and industry in Patras. Attorney Nora Nikolopoulou is the Head of International Relations, 58 Michalakopoulou str., 26221 Patras, 30 2610 277 779, email@example.com
Konstantinos Lazarakis MW is Greece’s only Master of Wine. Konstantinos is one of Greece΄s most ardent ambassadors and has written the definitive book on Greek wine, The Wines of Greece. He and his wife Antonia run one of the most heralded wine schools under WSET auspices and offer courses for the Court of Master of Sommeliers program. 6-8 Krinis Str., 185 39, Piraeus, Greece, 30 698 659 0404, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grigoris Michailos Aiws is a Sommelier and partner in the Wine Commanders, a web-based platform with the goal to “communicate our passion for Greek wine without exaggeration but with creativity and integrity and to persuade you to try them.” 30 6985941963, email@example.com
Dimostanos Zanakos works for Achaia tours. He may be young but is wise beyond his years. With Dimos as translator, mediator, cruise director and navigating wizard, a trip to Achaia runs with perfection.
This today by way of Sofia Perpera. “The Greek Embassy in Ottawa noted that Greek wine sales from January to July 2015 in Canada were up by 7,5% in value over the same period last year. The average wine imports of other countries were up by only 3,7%! #DrinkGreekWine
Good to go!