The second thing I learned is that Greek wines in the United States are scarce. During conversations with various wine shop owners, I learned that the regulations surrounding the import and distribution of wines can be quite complex and costly. As a result, unless the market demand warrants the import of a particular wine, bottle shop owners are reluctant to stock it on their shelves. With respect to Greek wines, demand may increase in the coming years as it has already caught the attention of world renowned sommeliers. Back in 2011, Alexander LaPratt of Atrium Dumbo, was reported by the Wall Street Journal as taking an interest in Agiorgitiko and adding some to his collection.
My next objective was to map out wineries that we could visit during our trip. Luck would have it that our summer itinerary allowed us to travel through Nemea and visit the Georgiou Winery, newly launched in the hillside village of Souli.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by George Georgiou and his 93 year old grandmother at their hundred year old homestead, which also serves as the family winery. True to Greek hospitality, our visit began with a wonderful meal of oven roasted chicken with potatoes, Greek salad, and some local beer.
Georgiou's story isn't unlike many young Greeks looking to build a future in a country fraught with economic turmoil. Having graduated with an MBA from San Jose State University, Georgiou returned to Athens in 2009 to pursue a career in Greece's corporate world. After several years of professional dissatisfaction, he concluded that the opportunities available in the country's capital were not what he was looking for. That's when, during a visit to his family's ancestral village of Souli, the idea came to him: resurrect the family's winery. And so, after attending the Agricultural University of Athens and obtaining his certification in enology, he began production with a first vintage in 2012.
The 2014 vintage has a slight effervescence, the result of a small amount of sugar remaining in the wine at the time of bottling. While technically considered a flaw in wine making, the effervescence gave the wine a unique and pleasant character. Georgiou explained that one of the appeals of agiorgitiko is its drinkability both as a young and aged wine, something that is particularly important to those looking to invest in wine.
Our day in Souli was a wonderful one; the graciousness of our host, the depth of the place's history, and the feeling that we were witnessing a gem in the making. Had we not been restricted by the drive ahead, we gladly would have indulged in a few more glasses. Instead, we purchased several bottles. The wine may not last a lifetime but our memories certainly will.