Greece has one of the longest wine histories in the world and wine has always been an integral part of Greek culture. Evidence of the long history of wine in Greece is apparent even today in vineyards with an unbroken track record of several millennia, while Greek terroirs play a key role in the shaping of a wide range of unique wines. And with over 300 indigenous varieties, Greek wines offer far more than pleasing aromas and flavors.
Savatiano, Roditis and Agiorgitiko among the most popular
Although the Greek vineyard produces many international varieties, the percentage planted with grapes such as Chardonnay, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, to name but a few, remains low compared to the area planted with Greek indigenous wine varieties. According to a 2017/2018 census, the foreign varieties are planted at 69,055 hectares accounting for 11% of the total surface area of Greek vineyards. Consequently, the areas planted with Greek varieties amount to 558,990 acres (89%).
The most popular variety is Savatiano with 101,344 hectares, amounting to 16.14% and mainly planted in Attica (52,888 hectares) and Central Greece (41,562 hectares).
The second popular variety is Roditis with 80,730 hectares (12.85%), mainly planted in Western Greece (44,075 hectares), Peloponnese (12,418 hectares) and Central Greece (10,492 hectares). Third most popular variety (and the first red) is Agiorgitiko with 31,741 hectares (5.05%), with 30,226 hectares planted in Peloponnese, 515 hectares Central Greece, 353 hectares in Attica, 263 hectares in Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, 220 hectares in Central Greece and 164 hectares in Central Macedonia.
Lesser known varieties of distinct character
Regarding the Greek varieties, in 4th place is Liatiko with 26,041 hectares and 4.15% of the total planted surface area, which is cultivated in its entirety in the island of Crete. Among the top 5 varieties is Assyrtiko with 19,845 hectares, amounting to 3.16%, with 12,642 hectares planted in the Region of South Aegean and the rest in almost all the rest of the country (mainly in Eastern and Central Macedonia) other than the Ionian Islands.
It is also worth noting that another 474,194 hectares of land are planted with various small-scale Greek –mainly– varieties.
The international “players”
Cabernet Sauvignon is ranked 7th among the most popular varieties cultivated in Greece, with 18,088 hectares and 2.88% of the total surface area and is planted mostly in the regions of Central Macedonia (3,434 hectares), Peloponnese (2,876 hectares), Central Greece (2,677 hectares). Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (2,555 hectares), Western Macedonia (1,613 hectares) and Western Greece (1,554 hectares).