Grow­ers op­ti­mistic as grape har­vest be­gins on San­torini

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY TA­NIA GEORGIOPOULOU

The cut­ting of the first bunch of Assyr­tiko on the south­ern Aegean is­land of San­torini on Au­gust 4 sig­naled the start of the 2017 wine grape har­vest across Greece. The har­vest takes roughly three months, end­ing in late Oc­to­ber in the vine­yards of north­ern Greece.

Grow­ers on San­torini are op­ti­mistic of a very good year and the usu­ally arid is­land saw some muchde­sired rain this win­ter. The grapes are look­ing strong and healthy. Vol­ume, how­ever, has been com­pro­mised due to a heat wave in late June that dried up hun­dreds of vines.

“We es­ti­mate a drop of as much as 30 per­cent in wine grapes,” says Matthaios Di­mopou­los, direc­tor of Santo Wines, the union of San­torini co­op­er­a­tives. Wine­maker Yian­nis Tse­le­pos, how­ever, does not ex­pect losses to ex­ceed 5 per­cent.

More than 2,000 peo­ple with con­nec­tions to the in­dus­try gath­ered at the of­fi­cial launch of the har­vest sea­son in late July, which was hosted by Santo Wines at its head­quar­ters in the vil­lage of Pyrgos.

The event was also at­tended by Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Van­ge­lis Apos­tolou, who vowed that a spe­cial con­sump­tion tax on wine would be abol­ished by the end of the year in re­sponse to re­peated re­quests by wine­mak­ers who say it is killing sales and boost­ing the black mar­ket.

Crete is also about to start its har­vest, with losses ex­pected to reach as much as 30 per­cent.

“The heat wave has de­hy­drated the vines and af­fected the mat­u­ra­tion of the grapes,” says Paraskevas Kor­dopatis, head of the is­land’s co­op­er­a­tive as­so­ci­a­tion. Ear­lier rain­fall means that the har­vest will start a bit later this year, around mid-Au­gust.

High hopes on Samos

On the is­land of Samos, farm­ers are look­ing for­ward to a good year and the har­vest is ex­pected to last through end-Septem­ber as the ma­jor­ity of its vine­yards are at al­ti­tudes of 800 me­ters and above. Hav­ing picked up two gold medals at this year’s Mon­dial des Vin Ex­tremes (an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion for wines from re­mote and in­ac­ces­si­ble vine­yards) – for the Samos An­themis 2011 and the Samos Nec­tar 2010 – they have good rea­son to feel op­ti­mistic.

As far as the rest of Greece is con­cerned, the qual­ity of wine grapes is re­port­edly good this year and many ar­eas which weren’t af­fected by ad­verse weather are ex­pect­ing an ex­cel­lent har­vest.

Usu­ally arid San­torini saw some much-de­sired rain this win­ter.

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