In Greece, as is the case with all the nations situated in the Mediterranean basin, the tradition of wine is especially rich. Wine is associated not only with the nutritional habits of the Greek, but also with religious and popular traditions as well as with its cultural heritage.
In order to maintain and promote this heritage, a special form of Agrotourism -the Wine Roads- was developed, which suggests to the visitor to follow a carefully selected route, passing through the most picturesque areas of a viniculture zone and to visit select wine-producing units, to sample local wines accompanied by the traditional gustations of the region and to explore the traditional settlements, archaeological site, etc. This is a relatively new form of tourism that is in complete harmonization with the natural environment and is excellently organized, and who is planning to essentially learn about each place through the traditions of viniculture and wine-making.
Along the length of the journey, restaurants, tavernas, ouzeries and hotels provide quality hospitality and finish its acquaintance with Greece and its culture.
Wine, like silk in earlier times, has created its own special geography. The “wine roads” of Greece pass through the major wine growing regions with the most highly respected wineries and travellers have the opportunity to sample organically grown, award-winning fine wines, produced in limited quantity, which have become well established in international competitions, right at the place of production. At the same time the traveller can follow the entire process of wine making. The guest houses are usually in the heart of the vineyards or in close proximity to them in nearby villages. Acquaintance with the world of wine is a deep ritualistic experience that enhances appreciation of this choice product of nature.
The ‘wine roads’ in Greece cross the major wine producing areas. In Thrace, they travel across Evros, Samothrace, Rodopi and Xanthi. In Macedonia the wine roads include Kavala, Drama, Serres, Halkidiki, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Pella, Florina, Kastoria, Grevena, Kozani, Pieria and Imathia. In Thessaly Larissa, Magnesia, the Sporades Islands, Karditsa and Trikala are part of the wine road network.
Ioannina, Arta, Preveza and Thesprotia regions are included in the network in Epirus. In the Ionian Islands the wine routes include Corfu, Paxi, Lefkada, Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos. In Central Greece, Aitoloakarnania, Fokida, Evrytania, Fthiotida, Voiotia, Evia, Skyros and Attica are part of the network.
In the Peloponnese Corinthia, Achaia, Ileia, Messinia, Laconia, Arcadia, Argolida and Kythera Island belong to the network. The Aegean Islands of Lesvos, Limnos, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, all the Dodecanese Islands, all of the Cyclades and, of course, Crete are participants.
Wine tourism first and foremost offers direct contact with nature, methods of cultivation and the rural life. In Macedonia, in Mantineia, everywhere in Greece, one can enjoy the authentic Greek rural life in small traditional country guest houses and learn the ways of growing and fermenting the finest Greek wines at first hand.
In many monasteries, such as the ones in Mount Athos or the Toplou Monastery in eastern Crete, visitors can also connect with the Orthodox tradition, which honours excellent wine both in everyday life and through the Divine Liturgy. A glass of red or white wine in the tranquil Greek countryside, with wonderful scents drifting on the breeze, life acquires its true meaning in appreciation of the simplest, yet most precious pleasures.