Chalkidiki is primarily famous as a tourist destination, known for its idyllic beaches and impressive natural beauty; but, apart from its seaside and mountain landscapes, it is also renowned for its high-quality food products. Among these are some of Greece’s best wines, coming from its vast vineyards and numerous wineries. This makes it ideal as a wine tourism destination, following the path of the Chalkidiki Wine Route, part of the Wine Routes of Northern Greece.
The Chalkidiki Peninsula has a rich and centuries-old wine tradition and some of the most important vineyards in Greece; grapevines were cultivated and wine was produced in the region from as early as the 5th century BC. The vines span the area’s hills, with many of them extending to the seashore.
More specifically, vineyards are cultivated on the west coast (Nea Propontida, Agios Pavlos), on Sithonia (the middle Chalkidiki’s three peninsulas, also known as “fingers” or “legs” in Greek), in the mountains of the region (Arnaia and Marathousa) and also on Mount Athos (the third peninsula, famous for its large monastic community). In central Chalkidiki many varieties of white wine are grown, such as Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc, while red wine varieties include the Xinomavro, Grenache Rouge, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In all of the wineries that are open for visitors, one has the opportunity to walk among the vineyards and visit their infrastructure to see the production process up close.
Wines with ”Protected Designation of Origin”
Chalkidiki produces some wines with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status. Among them we found the eponymous PGI Halkidiki wines, and the PGI Mount Athos wines; the Sithonia peninsula, in particular, is home to its namesake variety, PGI Sithonia, as well as the PDO Slopes of Meliton red wines. The ideal climate allows fine Greek grape varieties such as Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagouzia and Roditis to produce high-quality white wines. Among the red varieties we find the famous Limnio, which was even mentioned in the writings of Aristotle.
Agios Pavlos (Kassandra Peninsula)
The recommended wine tourism route starts off in the southern part of Thessaloniki, Agios Pavlos on the Kassandra Peninsula, with its temperate climate and green vineyards.
Slopes of Meliton (Sithonia Peninsula)
On Sithonia Peninsula, on the green slopes of Meliton, one can stroll among the picturesque vineyards and discover the 24 different varieties of wine produced there. The ”Plaghies Melitona” (“Slopes of Meliton”) vineyard on the western slope of Sithonia, where the eponymous PDO varieties are produced, is one of the most important of its kind in Europe, and a model of organic viticulture.
Arnea and Marathousa (North Chalkidiki)
Traveling to Arnea and Marathousa and the charming hills of northern Chalkidiki, one encounters vineyards that produce wonderfully fruity white wines and deep reds.
The last part of the route consists of the Mount Athos Vineyard. It is located on the third “finger” of the Chalkidiki Peninsula, and access to it, as well as to the area’s famous monastic community, is only allowed to men. The area produces the eponymous PGI varieties; its boundaries include the administrative area of Mount Athos and the neighboring administrative district of Ouranoupoli, at an altitude between 100 and 400 meters. Traditional agricultural practices are exclusively applied throughout the peninsula, making Athos one of the most consistent examples of organic farming.
Read also via Greek News Agenda: Athos, the ‘Holy Mountain’; Discover Wines of Greece; There are over 100 Greek PDO products; Corfu: A Destination for Memorable Food & Wine Tasting; Ted Diamantis: The man who made Greek wine imports a great success in the USA
N.M. (Translated from an original article in Punto Grecia)