Greece is a Mediterranian east European country considered to be the cradle of the civilisation as well as one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world. The Greek viticulture dates back over 6500 years.
The first real evidence of winemaking in Greece is found on the island of Crete in 16th century B.C. and even before that the myth about the Dionysus, the god of wine, joy, grapes, fertility and ecstasy. All colonies of Ancient Greece were worshipping the God of wine, as the Vitis Vinifera vine spread all over Europe.
During the Middle Ages, they were using wine as a strong payment method in trading with other countries. Sweet wines from Aegean made from Muscat grapes were one of the most famous wines in all more civilised countries in Europe. The countries' various climate is easily explained because of the many islands it has which are mountainous and hilly. Although it is predominantly maritime those high elevations and topography are influencing the vineyards immensely. The northern inland parts of Greece have a more continental climate. The soil types are as various as the climate, but the dominant are limestone, granite and volcanic rock.
The country has more than 250 indigenous grape varieties which are spread all over the land and the island part of Greece. The most popular white grape varieties are Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Savatiano, Moschofilero and Roditis and the red Xinomavro, Limnio, Mavrotragano and Mandilaria. Not to be forgotten is the Retsina wine flavoured with pine resin, which suddenly became the national wine, due to the rapid growth of tourism associating it with Greece and Greek wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscat, Chardonnay and Syrah are also thriving in this marvellous wine country. Greece has 8 main wine-growing areas including Crete, Central Greece, Epirus, Ionian Islands, Macedonia, Peloponnese, Thessaly and the Aegean Islands. The most famous wine regions from those areas are Crete, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, Paros, Attica and Thrace.
In 2009, it was introduced a new categorisation system in the country including the categories Onomasia Proelefseos Anoteras Piotitos (OPAP) and Onomasia Proelefseos Eleghomeni (OPE). These are the two principal designations for quality wine in Greece, which are covering dry and sweet wines respectively. At the bottom of the pyramid are the PGI categories Topikos Inos (country wine) and Epitrapezios Inos (table wine) cover larger areas and a wide array of wine styles and grape varieties. The modern viticulture and winemaking of Greece have shown that they are capable of making outstanding white, red and sweet wines with great potential and elegance.