Today two generations later the domaine vineyards are assiduity cared for and have been cultivated for the past 20 years under a homeodynamic regiment. In addition to this Sclavos Wines also sources another 4 hectares from local farmers in the Robola Zone of the island and have recently planted their own domaine vines within that zone. All wines follow the same criteria: old-vine original rootstock bush vines are used irrespective of the cultivar, spontaneous yeast fermentation, unfined, unfiltered bottling and nominal sulphuring. The average yields in all of Sclavos wines rarely rise above 30 hl/ha with some going as low as 16 hl/ha. The vines are not irrigated and benefit from the unique limestone terroir of the Robola Zone in eastern Cephalonia under the slopes of Mt. Ainos and the limestone, clay, and sandstone soils of the Paliki peninsula. Collectively these processes make for some of the most natural wines that Greece produces. The main goal of the winery is to produce wines that are inexorably linked to the terroir of Cephalonia, with fauna, flora, soil, and micro-climate all adding to the diverse influences on the vine and cultivars.
A picturesque Mediterranean nation with a rich wine culture dating back to ancient times, Greece has so much more to offer than just retsina. Between the mainland and the country’s many islands, a wealth of wine styles exists, made mostly from Greece’s plentiful indigenous varieties. After centuries of adversity after Ottoman rule, the modern Greek wine industry took off in the late 20th century with an influx of newly trained winemakers and investments in winemaking technology.
The climate—generally hot Mediterranean—can vary a bit with latitude and elevation, and is mostly moderated by cool maritime breezes. Drought can be an issue for Greek wine during the long, dry summers, sometimes necessitating irrigation.
Over 300 indigenous grapes have been identified throughout Greece, and though not all of them are suitable for wine production, future decades will likely see a significant revival and refinement of many of these native Greek wine varieties. Assyrtiko, the crisp, saline variety of the island of Santorini, is one of the most important and popular white varieties, alongside Roditis, Robola, Moschofilero, and Malagousia. Muscat is also widely grown for both sweet and dry wines. Prominent red varieties include full-bodied and fruity Agiorghitiko, native to Nemea; Macedonia’s savory, tannic Xinomavro; and Mavrodaphne, used commonly to produce a Port-like fortified wine in the Peloponnese.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.