Take a deep dive into the wines of the Olympus region and the ancient wild vine of the Kompologoula by learning about the art of winemaking.
In the shadow of Mount Olympus in the fertile soils of Pieria, where thousands of years ago the wild grape vines and one of the first tame varieties for wine production, the kompologoula, flourished, vine cultivation has been reborn in recent years. Winemakers are developing the sector dynamically, creating quality wines that win distinctions within and outside the Greek borders.
The Harvest of the Wines of Olympus
The timing of the grape harvest is particularly important as it affects the quality of the wine produced. Generally, the harvesting period for the wines of Olympus is in the months of August – September, when the grapes acquire the desired colour and aroma, as well as the right proportion of sugars and acids. During the harvest, the grapes are picked carefully, either by hand or mechanically.
In the first case of manual harvesting, the ripe bunches are cut from the vine and collected in special baskets or barrels. In the second case of mechanical harvesting, which is mainly found in large vineyards, the process is accelerated but no initial visual sorting is carried out.
In the harvest the farmers use the “baskets” of the hand, the “bones” and the “baskets”. Every basket fits from seven to ten kilograms of grapes. For the collection of grape seeds are also used and the grape seeds that are a little bigger than the baskets. Then fill them, fill them carry them and empty them into the baskets, where each one holds 45 to 50 kg of grapes.
The grapes that pass to the next phase are taken to wineries, specifically to special pressing machines. The crushers skilfully tear the skin of the grapes, exposing the juice and pulp, but without crushing the stems and seeds containing tannins. Tannins are responsible for the structure and texture of the wine. Thus, the stems can be removed before or after crushing the grapes, depending on the type of wine the winemaker wants. The extraction of the must from the grapes is done in the traditional way, in the wine presses. It is a tank into which the grapes are poured after the harvest. There, they are pressed by the pressers with bare feet and the must is collected.
The must is essentially freshly pressed grape juice which contains the skins, seeds and solids. To the red wine is produced, the must remains in contact with the skins to obtain flavour, colour and tannins. For the white wine, the winemaker will quickly crush and press the grapes to separate the juice from the skins, to separate the juice from the seeds and solids. This prevents the influence of unwanted colour and tannins in the wine.
Before the maturation and ageing stage begins, the must goes through the alcoholic fermentation process, where all the sugars are converted into alcohol. The fermentation of white and red wine at appropriate temperatures is particularly important to preserve as many aromas as possible in the wine produced. In white winemaking, alcoholic fermentation takes place without the grapes, while in red winemaking the presence of grapes is essential as they give the colour.
Once fermentation is complete, clarification begins, which is the process in which solids such as dead yeast cells, tannins and proteins are removed. The wine is transferred to a different container such as an oak barrel or a stainless steel tank. The rotation at high speed is done in order to separate the must and applies to wines that are difficult to separate by other means. This operation requires careful control to avoid undue oxidation and loss of alcohol during the process.
Maturation and Ageing
Maturation is the stay of the wine in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks (white wines) and includes all the processes that take place inside them. The main process is the exposure of the wine to oxygen, during which the tannins are reduced and a smoother and rounder taste is created in the wine. However, not all wines go through the maturation and ageing stage. For example, whites and rosés are usually consumed early, in order to have the freshness of the primary aromas and the flavour of the variety. After maturation, the wine is bottled and in some cases, ageing follows. The ageing process refers to the time the wine spends in the glass bottle until it is consumed.
Bottling of the Wines of Olympus
If the wine has the aroma, taste, texture and structure that the winemaker desires, the final stage of bottling follows. In order to preserve and enhance the unique character of the product, glass bottles that will accommodate it for months or years are selected and washed with special care. Then, the cork is filled and placed, which protects the wine from atmospheric air and the deterioration it causes. The glass bottles used are transparent for white wine and dark green or brown for red wine.
The colour of the bottle is no coincidence, as the transparent ones give us an attractive first look at the contents, while the dark colour of the green bottles protects the wine from sunlight. From the vineyard to the glass and from the first to the last drop, the natural properties of the glass keep the product unchanged, thus completing the wine’s tasting journey.