Krasi – ‘wine’ in Greek
Those who travel from Athens to Kalamata cross the famous Corinthian Canal on a route that slices through Nemea, one of the Peloponnese peninsula’s, wine producing regions. We like to think of it as, ‘Krasi Country’.
|Nemea Wine Country - Greek Peloponnese|
Yet, most – unless they have a tour guide pointing them out – will likely miss both. They are unremarkably shy when competing for attention with Greece’s ‘hyped-up’ tourist destinations like Santorini or Mykonos.
|"Our" wine country is in the upper right hand corner|
It took several trips through the area, as we traveled between Athens and our home just south of Kalamata, for us to give the area more than a passing glance. As we zoomed along the divided freeway one or the other would comment, "Those look like grape vines don't they?" And I must confess that we still have yet to view the Corinthian Canal up close and personal.
But all it took was one visit to Nemea, the Krasi Country that carpets the northeast corner of the Peloponesse, to keep us coming back to it.
We are used to the ‘glitz’ of wine promotion in the U.S. where magnificent tasting rooms and wineries reign over vineyards and ‘tastings’ can cost $10 or more. It is not like that here. We’ve yet to visit a winery with a tasting room, let alone one that is open!
In fact it is difficult to buy a bottle of Nemean wine at a restaurant or taverna here! That’s because they usually produce their own and serve it in a pitcher at a far lower price than the bottle would cost. (Say three-euros vs. 15 euros -- both still a deal in our book!)
|Main Street in Nemea town|
The area has charmed us to the point of making an over-night stop there a ‘tradition’ when flying out of the Athens’ airport. That way we give ourselves a trip within a trip and it breaks up the near four-hour journey between our home and the airport quite nicely.
|Had wine roads to ourselves in June|
Our visit last fall was on a dreary, rainy day when the area was shrouded with clouds and mist (yes, it can happen even in Greece) so the area’s sheer beauty wasn’t really revealed until we returned in June.
|Vineyards as far as the eye can see carpet Nemea region|
The history of vine cultivation in the Peloponnese is fascinating. It dates back to antiquity and experienced one of its finest moments in the Middle Ages, when Monemvasia put the region on the map with its trade in Malvasia (or Malmsey) wine. Its modern wine history can be traced to 1861 with the establishment of Achaia Clauss by Bavarian trailblazer Gustav Clauss. He developed the sweet Mavrodaphne (also Mavrodafni), now known around the world.
|Wineries dot the landscape in Nemea|
While there aren’t the ‘tasting rooms’ that exist in wine producing regions of the U.S., we still managed to have some great experiences tasting some wine! (Maybe even better than lining up at a tasting bar in some fancy tasting room. . .)
|Had this place to ourselves to in wine country|
We created our own wine tasting on a warm June afternoon at a small kafenion we happened upon along our route.
While the young Greek woman running the place spoke about as much English as we did Greek, we managed to order ‘ena portiria krasi leftko; and ‘ena portiria krasi rose’ (glasses of white and rose wine). Those phrases are among our 'survival' phrases we learned early on!
And as is still the delightful tradition in Greece, the wine came with a plate of food, at no extra charge.
Later that evening in the village in which we were staying, we’d decided to enjoy the warm evening a bit longer with a stop at the town’s kafenion for a nightcap. As we were sipping our ‘miso kilo of rose’ (as the half-liter pitcher is called here), a Greek man pulled up in his pickup, nodded and spoke in greeting as he walked past and went inside.
Minutes later a second pitcher of wine was served to us, sent by Mr. Nikos, the man who had just walked past. Turns out he is the winemaker of the rose wine served at the kafenion and he was so pleased we were drinking it, that he sent us more.
|Mr. Nikos, the winemaker, and our private tasting with him|
So pleased in fact that he went to his truck and brought back a bottle of red wine for us to sample. (We were unable to consume it all, btw). And then he sat and in our broken English/Greek we discussed wine with him as dusk became dark.
|Wine tasting at its best - Peloponnese, Greece|
Eat your heart out, those of you who pay hundreds of dollars for a chance to eat or drink with the winemakers! We had a most memorable tasting with the winemaker himself and for less than 5 euros!
Kefalari Village – Off the beaten path
One of the reasons we return to this wine region is to visit Kefalari, a tiny mountain village that sits at an elevation of 2,650, high above the region's vineyards. We’ve stayed at the town’s Guesthouse Arhontiko, and its sister property, the Armonia Boutique Hotel.
|Our room in June - en suite bathroom and a deck|
Both offer exquisitely furnished rooms and breakfast is included in the rate. The mid-September rate respectively is about $42US and $71 US a night. They are tucked away in the heart of the village, footsteps from each other.
|Breakfast is a favorite at the guesthouse and hotel|
We’ll be heading back to our ‘Krasi Country’ as soon as we get settled into the new lifestyle in Greece. And our travel tip is: If your travels take you to Greece, you’ll want to visit all those well-known oft-written about tourist destinations, but remember there are travel treasures out there to be found just a bit off the beaten path.
Kalo Mina, (Happy New Month) and Happy September to you and yours. We have arrived at our ‘countdown to Greece’. Suitcases are packed and being repacked. The ‘for sale’ sign goes up this week on our U.S. home. A new adventure is about to begin. . .
As always, thanks for the time you spend with us. . .safe travels to you and yours~ hope to see you back here next week!
Linking up this week with:Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday –
Weekend Travel Inspiration