“For centuries now the land of Halkidiki has been verdant with vineyards and olive groves.”
In 1963 a cruise to Mount Athos begins, for the celebration of the 1000 years since the creation of the monastic community of Athos. Aboard known Athenians and among them the shipowner Giannis Carras. They cruise offshore Sithonia, enter the Toroneos Gulf and… the fairy-tale begins. Giannis Carras falls in love with the virgin site.
The winery was built in 1970, and together with the vineyard became a landmark for the Greek wine industry. It is definitely worth mentioning the significant contribution made by the father of modern oenology, Professor Émile Peynaud from the University of Bordeaux, who forged the historical path of the first “Greek” wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which—having been ideally adapted to the Domaine’s calcareous-slaty soil—thrived around the globe, achieving numerous awards, medals and accolades. The design and positioning of the winery in the middle of the vineyard facilitates the rapid delivery and processing of the grapes for the purpose of maintaining their quality and avoiding oxidation.
The first vineyards and olive groves were planted at the beginning of 1965, work commenced on the innovative tourism Resort which is associated with the Domaine Porto Carras, creating a real revolution in the hotel and wine-making sector in Greece at that time. On the western side of Halkidiki’s Sithonia Peninsula, where the verdant slopes of Mt. Meliton stretch down to mingle with the crystal-clear waters of Toroneo Bay, 450 hectares of the largest organic Greek vineyards lie in amphitheatre-like formation. These vineyards are some of the largest in Europe.
The vineyards were designed by university professors from Thessaloniki’s School of Agronomy and Athens Vine & Wine Institute in an exemplary manner. For the first time a systematic study was carried out on the suitability of foreign varieties in Greece. The Domaine’s people have respected the magnificence of this unique environment. Wherever there were forests, they have been left untouched. Nevertheless, the trees at this day still constitute a natural barrier, trapping the evening atmospheric moisture which helps the vines withstand the hot days of summer.
Today the “Slopes of Mt. Meliton” vineyards are a model of organic viniculture, in line with modern international trends, respecting the consumer and the environment.
Thanks to the exceptional climate conditions prevailing in the area, the Domaine’s vineyards are today considered to be one of the rarest cases where most vine diseases are confronted using organic processes. Plant protection is achieved solely by using sulphur and copper so that cultivation can be certified as purely organic, moreover only organic fertilizers are used. The yield per 1000m2, which does not exceed 800 kilos, demonstrating that the viticultural potential of the area is extremely high.
The hilly areas in the region create excellent ecological conditions for cultivating the 24 select varieties that thrive on the south-western slopes at an altitude of 200-300 m. These conditions allow the Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagousia, Sauvignon Blanc and Roditis varieties to produce the highest quality white wines. Malagousia, a variety almost extinct, was revived at Domaine Porto Carras; after experimental plantings, the possibilities of the variety were recognized and the production of high quality and balanced wines with high aromatic potential, began.
Among the red wines, the famed Greek Limnio variety referred to in texts of Aristotle, stands out accompanied by the cosmopolitan varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah, which at altitudes from 300 to 400m have adapted wonderfully to the cool north-eastern slopes of the region.