From Grapes to Greatness: Ktima Gerovassiliou

13 Jul 2020
5 min read
On the slopes of Epanomi in northern Greece, a meticulously tended vineyard is transformed into world-class wines bursting with the unique characteristics of the local terroir. Owner and winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou, who is on a mission to bring historic Greek grape varieties back to life, tells FOUR more about Ktima Gerovassiliou and the art of viniculture…

Can you tell us a bit about Ktima Gerovassiliou, its history, its vision and its philosophy?

In 1981, I started reviving the family vineyard extending over 2.5 hectares in my hometown, Epanomi, approximately 25 km southeast of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece. In this unique ecosystem I planted mainly Greek, but also foreign grape varieties. The first vinification took place in 1986 at the modern winery that was built by the vineyard and it was a white blend of Assytiko (the famous variety of Santorini) and Malagousia, an ancient variety with vast potential that I had the chance to first vinify, revive and rescue from extinction back in the ‘70s.

Today, Ktima Gerovassiliou stretches over 72 hectares, where new technological advances blend well with tradition throughout vine growing and vinification processes. Our aim is to produce high-quality wines from grapes cultivated in the privately-owned single vineyard, which exhibit all the distinctive characteristics of the specific microclimate (terroir) of Epanomi.

How did you get into this industry and where does your passion for viniculture stem from?

Being born in an agricultural region, such as Epanomi, and raised to a farming and grape-growing family made me love and appreciate nature and my land. I decided to study Agriculture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. During my studies, the oxidation of the artisanal wine, made by my father for our family’s consumption, triggered me into wine making and led me to specialize in it at the University of Bordeaux, France. There, I was fortunate to be part of the team of the “father of modern Oenology” Emile Peynaud and decided, once and for all, that winemaking was what I wanted to do in life.

What were your initial aspirations for Ktima Gerovassiliou and how have these evolved over the years?

Starting with a little piece of land and with a low budget, my first aspirations were to make a quality wine from my region and showcase the grape variety of Malagousia. Now, after all this hard work, that my first goals have been achieved, and Malagousia has been acclaimed not only in Greece but also abroad, my vision is to carry on with quality wines and meticulous work and introduce more forgotten Greek grape varieties, if possible, through continuous experimentation.

What makes Ktima Gerovassiliou wines so special in your opinion?

It is the authenticity that they carry and a clean expression of the varieties and the terroir.

What makes the winery’s location and its vineyards so exceptional and how do they influence the wines?

The climate in the region of Epanomi is Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers, tempered by sea breezes and northern winds. The vineyard is surrounded on three sides by the sea, which is three kilometres away, and the soil is mainly sandy with a few clayey substrates and calcareous rocks. It is rich in sea fossils since the surrounding hilly area was formed by sea deposits. The combination of these elements creates a unique ecosystem, where Greek and foreign grape varieties can be cultivated and thrive.

What makes a good wine in your eyes, and how do you ensure Ktima Gerovassiliou upholds this?

For me a good wine is a wine with a sense of place that expresses the land and the grape variety and follows high quality standards. We uphold this by working hard in the vineyard and continuously trying to evolve through our experience.

Your wines are known for their high and consistent quality – how do you maintain this year after year?

The fact that we are using the grapes that we cultivate in our privately owned single vineyard guarantees their quality and therefore the quality of our wines. Moreover, the stable weather conditions in the area don’t allow fundamental variations from one vintage to the other. 

When someone drinks a bottle of your wine, what do you hope is their reaction?

I want them to enjoy it and relate it to happy moments. Through taste we can travel to feelings and recall memories, so I sure hope that a sip of our wines reflects Greece and joyful moments.

Tell us more about the range of wines you produce, including their tasting notes, grapes used, blend ratios and best pairings?

Please find our range of wines in this document.

Give us a brief overview of the wine production process from start to finish – are there any unique steps in the process that makes the wines superior?

The vineyard is cultivated according to the standards of an Integrated Management System that aims to produce wine grapes following a certified cultivation procedure meeting all relevant quality and safety requirements and respecting the environment, the vineyard’s employees and the consumers. The primary concern is the meticulous care of the vineyard, and therefore all rural tasks – including harvest – are done by hand. Sorting is done in the vineyard and we receive at our winery only the best grapes for our wines. Green harvest is performed (almost 50% of the grapes are eliminated) to reduce the yield and improve quality of our wines.

Tell us a bit about the museum on the estate and its significance?

In 1976 I started collecting viticulture, winemaking, bottling and cooperage tools from around the world. Especially notable is the corkscrew collection, which I started in the 1980s and which now numbers more than 2600 exhibits and consists of one of the most important corkscrew collections worldwide. The collection also includes rare and unique pieces dating back to the 18th century, as well as vessels and utensils from the ancient Greek symposium.

Quality wine, its production and significance in human lives through history constitute the main museological axis of our Wine Museum and express my aspiration to enhance the viticulture and wine making tradition.

Tell us about some of the winery’s awards and greatest achievements?

We are happy and proud that our efforts for consistently high-quality wines have been recognised with the receipt of international distinctions. Our estate has been included among the 100 top wineries of the world for seven years, our wines have been in the Top 100 lists of Wine and Spirits, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator magazines, and I have been included among the six-best wine-producers worldwide. Our wines receive very important distinctions every year. Our top distinctions can be found here.

Can you tell us what interesting trends are going on in the world of winemaking and how do these influence Ktima Gerovassiliou?

The past years rosé wine consumption has seen a massive rising. This fact has offered us the opportunity to experiment with a new- for our vineyard – grape variety, called Xinomavro and produce, in 2018, our first rosé.

What is Ktima Gerovassiliou looking to achieve in the future in terms of winemaking?

Our goal is to bring out more native Greek grape varieties that have great potential. One of them could be Limnio, the oldest attested Greek grape variety, mentioned in the 5th BC, that now predominates in one of our wines, called Avaton.

What are your indispensable Ktima Gerovassiliou favorites?

Malagousia. I have believed in this variety since the beginning, I have worked hard to revive it and now I am so proud that it has found its place in the wine world.

What’s next for Ktima Gerovassiliou?

The next Gerovassiliou generation. Our three children Argyris, Marianthi and Vasiliki, upon completing their studies in Oenology, Management and Marketing respectively, have arrived to contribute to the estate with knowledge and fresh ideas.


Visit Ktima Gerovassiliou’s website to find out more.