The Peloponnese vineyard

SOIL MORPHOLOGY AND CLIMATIC CONDITIONS

Peloponnese is located in one of the southernmost tips of Europe, at the same latitude with Sicily, Andalusia, South Portugal and the northern coast of Africa, which are areas with consistently high temperatures. There is also one additional factor, perhaps more significant than that of latitude, which is extremely decisive in upscale wine production that passes the test of time. This factor is the unique terrain of Peloponnese.
There are more than 50 mountains in Peloponnese with an altitude over 1,000 meters. The altitudes of the most well-known mountains (Taygetus, Cyllene, Chelmos, Erymanthos, Mainalo, Oligyrtos, Parnonas, Panachaiko) range between 1,900 - 2,400 meters. These mountains, with their snow-capped peaks, work like cool transmitters from the centre of each area to the borders. This process benefits high vines and offers grapes coolness, elegance, moderate alcohol and the desired slow maturation leading to expressive wines that endure the test of time.
But even in coastal areas, where the influence of the mountains is small, the abundance of water bodies surrounding Peloponnese prevents temperature extremes. The Corinthian Gulf in the North, the Ionian Sea in the West, the Saronic and the Argolic Gulf as well as the Aegean Sea in the East, and the Mediterranean Sea in the South play an important role in wine producing and have endowed Greece with complex and unique wine producing sites along with exceptional local varieties matching the winegrowers’ unparalleled personalities.
Gregory Kontos, DipWSET

CULTIVATED AREAS

The Peloponnese vineyard stretches over 190,434 stremmas; it is the largest vineyard in Greece, occupying 30% of the total cultivated area of vineyards in the country.
  • Argolis

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 6,539 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 1,570 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 4,887 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 82 stremmas

    Most of the vineyards and wineries in Argolis are located in the municipal units of Koutsopodi and Lyrkeia, while the most important vineyards are located in the areas of Malandreni and Gymno and are included in the wine zone of Nemea.
    Since 2008, the vineyard of Argolida has been producing PGI Argolis wines.

    Argolis has a very diverse and interesting geographical area for vine cultivation. There are numerous soil types of medium mechanical composition, sloping and well-draining. The clay soil of the area varies depending on the inclination and the altitude.

    Altitudes range from 50 to 600 meter, and the vineyards are exposed mainly to the southeast. The temperate Mediterranean climate is influenced by the afternoon southern sea breeze from the Argolic Gulf, while the average rainfall level does not exceed 500 mm per year.

  • Arcadia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 16,376 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 8,967 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 6,203 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 1,205 stremmas

    In the prefecture of Arcadia most of the wineries and vineyards are located west of Tripoli, at the municipal unit of Mantinia, and east of it, at the municipal unit of Korythi, and are the largest part of the viticultural zone for PDO Mantinia. The most significant vineyards in the prefecture are located at the areas of Artemisio, Zevgolatio, Lithovouni, Rizes, Fteri and Agiorgitika.

    The most important cultivated variety in Arcadia is the famous Moschofilero, which has been designated a PDO wine since 1971. Since October 2012, the Mantinia Designation of Origin also includes sparkling wines produced from Moschofilero.

    Arcadia is mostly mountainous and semi-mountainous, including the mountains of Mainalo, Artemisio and Parnonas within its geographical limits. Thus, most of the vineyards are located at an altitude of more than 600 meters. The climate is known for intense rains and snow in the winter; in the summer temperatures are low at night and high in the day, with frequent rains and storms.

    The combination of these climatic conditions along with the variety of terrains in the region, the cultivated vine varieties, the applied vine cultivation and wine-making techniques, contributes to the quality features of Arcadia PGI wines.

  • Achaia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 52,605 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 13,005 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 34,500 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 5,010 stremmas

    Achaia is the most important wine region in Greece. It occupies 12% of Greek vineyards as a whole and offers us four PDO wines (White Dry Patras, Sweet Red Mavrodaphne of Patras, Sweet White Muscat of Patras, Sweet White Muscat of Rio) and three PGI wines (Achaia, Slopes of Aigialia, Slopes of Petroto). There are 36 active wineries in the region.

    Achaia is divided into two large wine-producing zones: Western Achaia, around the area of Patras, and Aigialia.
    The zone producing PGI Achaia wines is located on the administrative boundaries of Achaia prefecture. It is a seaside, Mediterranean region at an altitude of 20 to 700 meters. The vineyard soils are of average mechanical composition with neutral pH or mixed percentages of calcium carbonate.
    The average temperature ranges between 16°C and 17°C, and thus the climate is temperate in the area.

    Aigialia:
    Stavroula Kourakou, Honorary President of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV): Judging by the soil and climate of the area, the vineyard overlooking the Corinthian Gulf is one of the most beautiful in the world. The slopes of the Highlands of Aigialia, a result of tectonic movements and intense seismic activity taking place for millions of years, have created a unique combination of geological features and climatic conditions that favor viticulture and the production of high-quality wines.

    Five large gorges, which have been formed by the rivers (Foinikas, Meganitis, Selinous, Kerinitis, Vouraikos, Krios, Krathis) that cross the slopes of Aigialia and discharge into the Corinthian Gulf, intersect the mountainous volume and form a botanical paradise designated a Natura site.

    The semi-mountainous and mountainous vineyards of Aigialia are at an altitude of 300-850 meters; the soils vary from white limestone to fertile sandy-loamy, with excellent drainage due to the high inclination with an average value of 33.5.

    As Ms Stavroula Kourakou states, “this vine bioclimate is unique in the world. This is one of the most beautiful vineyards worldwide, stretching over the soft northern slopes and receiving the cool sea wind that protects grapes from summer heat waves”.

    The special climate at the Aigialia vineyard demonstrates unique and interesting features due to:

    • the high altitude
    • the sharp terrain
    • the northern exposure of the slopes
    • the neighbouring with the Corinthian Gulf sea basin
    • the dominant winds

    These features make the area one of the most significant wine-producing zones in the world, when it comes to the production of white wines.

  • Ilia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 27,837 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 0 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 18,445 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 9,392 stremmas

    The rich soil, of medium fertility in the lowlands and of low fertility in the highlands of the zone, has contributed to the development of viticulture in Ilia, from antiquity to our days.

    The most significant vineyards are located around the areas of Pyrgos, Ancient Olympia and Amaliada. They are located on fertile lowlands with large water reserves and deposits from the rivers of Alpheios and Pineios and their tributaries.

    The PGI Ilia zone stretches over a large region and its soil varies, depending on the area. Generally, the soil is of medium mechanical composition; it is of sedimentary origin, sandy, with clay and gravel, with neutral or slightly acidic pH and low levels of active calcium.

    Based on the bioclimatic features of the area, there are two distinguished parts in this zone; the low-lying to hilly part, where the climate can be described as marine Mediterranean, and the part located at an altitude of over 400 m that gradually converts to mountainous with cold winters and significant differences regarding maximum and minimum temperatures.

    The average annual rainfall, with the volume of rain distributed between October and May, ranges between 600 and 900 mm.

  • Corinthia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 45,495 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 23,460 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 18,182 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 3,853 stremmas

    Nemea is the largest wine-producing zone in Greece regarding the area of cultivated vineyards, annual wine production (220,000 HL), and the number of wineries (40). It belongs to the Prefecture of Corinth and includes vineyards at Gymno and at Malandreni in Argolis.

    The area of Nemea consists of seven small valleys, which are situated in the ravines of the mountain range formed by the rivers Asopos, Xerias, Mavro Rema. The largest valley is surrounded by the municipalities of Nemea, Galatas, Aidonia, Petri and Koutsi. The rest of the valleys are located at the area of Ancient Kleones, Ancient Nemea, Leontio - Gymno, Asprokampos - Psari, Kefalari, Malandreni.

    The Nemea vineyard is divided into three high-altitude zones:

    • The lowland, from 200 to 350 meters, including the valleys of Nemea, Ancient Nemea, Ancient Kleones, and Leontio-Gymno.
    • The semi-mountainous, from 300 to 600 meters, including the vineyards at Koutsi and Dafni.
    • The mountainous, 600-850 meters, which includes the vineyards at Asprokampos, Psari, Kefalari and the slopes at Kastraki, Bozaki, Titani.

    The zone of Nemea is extremely heterogeneous and this is reflected on the features of the wines produced from Agiorgitiko (PDO NEMEA).

    Generally, the climate for the whole region can be described as Mediterranean, mild, sub-arid to sub-humid. Winters are mild and usually quite rainy, and summers are prolonged, warm and relatively dry. However, the mezzo-climate in each area is directly influenced by the topography of the valley and its altitude. At the area of Nemea, it is quite common to encounter significantly different weather conditions within short distances.

    The soil composition of Nemea vineyards demonstrates great diversity. There are clay-loamy soils (Ancient Nemea), limestone soils (Koutsi), gravelly and sandy soils at Achladias, and gravelly soils at Gymno.

    This diversity is reinforced by the different orientation of the vineyards and the varying inclination of the mountainous, semi-mountainous and lowland vineyards that differ in drainage. This mosaic of terroirs has made several winemakers to support the necessity of creating sub-zones in Nemea, since Agiorgitiko yields wines with different characteristics in each region.

    Finally, the Prefecture of Corinth includes the wine-producing zone in the Municipal District of Klimentio (Municipality of Sikyon). This zone extends at altitudes from 700m to 1000m with ambient temperatures from 20οC to 30οC during the germination period and when there is sufficient sunshine.

  • Laconia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 7,860 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 1,263 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 6,007 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 590 stremmas

    Lakonia is bordered by two mountain ranges: Taygetus in the west and Parnonas in the east, which end up at Cape Tainaro and Maleas, respectively. In the intermediate region lies the plain of Lakaidaimon (Evrotas, Elos, Asopos, Vatika). The wine-producing zone is located mainly around Sparta, the capital of Laconia, and the monastery of Monemvassia, a cradle of the historic Monemvassia Wine (PDO Monemvassia-Malvasia). In the south, it is bordered by the Laconian Gulf, and as a result it is exposed to southern winds that give mild winters. The northeastern winds from Parnon give cool summers. Taygetus acts as a barrier to western winds that cause heavy rainfall in the west, resulting in a dry spring towards the end of the season and an especially dry summer. The terrain is quite sharp, with an altitude ranging between 70 and 500 meters.

    The composition of the cultivated soil features clay and lime. Add to that the special microclimate, the grape varieties, and the wine-making techniques, and we have an area of unique features all reflected on the exceptional PGI Laconia wines.

  • Messinia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 24,722 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 0 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 20,920 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 3,802 stremmas

    Τhe eastern part of Messinia is dominated by the mountain range of Taygetus, which is also the natural border with Laconia. Taygetus stretches along 115 km with its highest peak reaching 2,400 meters, thus creating special climatic conditions. The climate ranges from weak Mediterranean (dry, temperate) to subtropical. Winters are mild and summers are prolonged and warm. The winds from the Ionian Sea have a favorable influence on the climate of the area.

    The most remarkable areas in terms of wine production are Trifilia and Pylia. The vineyards are located at a relatively low altitude with fertile limestone soil.

  • Kefalonia

    Total cultivated area of vineyards: 7,912 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PDO vineyards: 3,860 stremmas

    Cultivated area of PGI vineyards: 3,585 stremmas

    Remaining cultivated area: 467 stremmas

    Kefalonia is the largest island in the Ionian Sea and the most important in terms of wine production. It is no accident that it produces three PDO wines (Robola of Kefalonia, Muscat of Kefalonia, Mavrodaphne of Kefalonia) and three PGI wines (Slopes of Ainos, Metaxata and Matzavinata).

    The most important wine-producing zone on the island is the Robola zone, in the southern and central part of Kefalonia, dominated by the imposing, fir-covered Mount Ainos, at an altitude of 1,628 m. From the Omala Plateau, with an average altitude of 390 meters, located at the southern and southwestern slopes of Ainos, the vineyards of the noble Robola climb up to 800 meters. The soils are extremely poor, of limestone and stone, and the vineyards are small, about 4,5 stremmas per producer. The Venetians named Robola “Vino di Sasso” (wine of the stone) because the plants were literally planted on barren stony soil. The combination of sloping terrain with high rainfall, over 820 mm annually, and western winds that carry significant moisture especially in spring and summer, creates a special environment for the production of wines with distinct aroma and taste.

    Another important vineyard on the island is the one in Matzavinata. The greater area around Mantzavinata village features important vineyards; even the name Mantzavinata (manggia e vino) refers to the combination of food and wine, as mentioned by local historians and satyr writers of the 19th century. The area is flat, with deep sandy-clay or/and sandy-loamy soils, and the cultivated varieties are relatively high-yielding. Due to the south and west exposure of the region, the rainfall is high and exceeds 810 mm annually, while the sunshine is intense during the months of vegetation and fructification until the harvest.

    Finally, the vineyards at Metaxata grow on a hilly terrain with mild slopes, in close proximity to the sea. The area has a special microclimate with high relative humidity and soil containing limestone with marls.

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