With someone like George Skouras
, a man who has been such a prominent force in the Greek wine industry, it's hard to imagine him as a young twenty-something, crushing his
first vintage of wine.
Especially because 27 years ago, few would have predicted that
there would be a thriving Greek wine industry in 2011.
But thanks, in part, to the efforts of Skouras
and several other pioneering winemakers, the foundations that were laid in the early 1980s have led to a thriving and dynamic industry that is making excellent wine.
Skouras went on to study at the University of Dijon, getting a degree in viticulture and enology, and getting the opportunity to work in the vineyards of Burgundy, Bordeaux , Champagne, Beaujolais and more.
returned to Greece in 1982 to work for Nicholas Cosmetatos at his winery Gentilini, a pioneering effort that many consider the beginning of the modern winemaking movement in Greece.
didn't know it at the time, but that first vintage was also the first time that anyone had ever blended the native Agiorgitiko (pronounced eye-your-YEE-tih-koh) grape with Cabernet.
A decision, Skouras
says, that was really based in a lack of faith in Agiorgitiko: "I wasn't sure of the longevity of Agiorgitiko, so I added Cabernet sort of as a warranty -
for some cellaring potential."
Now, such blends are common, but at the time, most of the international grape varieties and the indigenous varieties were kept and made separately.
had made his
first wine, then he
had to sell it.
Within a few years, Skouras
skills as a marketer as fast as he
had matured his
skills as a winemaker, holding press conferences and setting up tastings for members of the press.
Like several other French trained winemakers who all returned to Greece to make wine at around the same time, Skouras
rapidly rose to prominence and acclaim.
now consists of 80 acres of vineyards, many of them older vineyard sites that Skouras purchased near his
home town in Malandreni, where his
flagship winery sits, about an hour and a half from Athens.
This was his
second winery, however, as his
first venture was a small winery in Gymno in the Nemea region, the area of the Peloponnese peninsula synonymous with the grape Agiorgitiko.
The winery produces northwards of 50,000 cases of wine a year, across a wide range of bottlings, some of which are as small as a few thousand bottles.
While Skouras is actively involved in the day-to-day operations, he now has a winery team of very competent individuals that handle most of the production, giving him time to represent both the winery and the Greek wine industry as a whole (Skouras was Vice President of the Greek Wine Federation for some time).
After nearly 30 years in the vineyards and cellar, Skouras
shows very little sign of slowing down.