Yannis Papargyriou, Papargyriou Winery
This amazing family is one of the hardest working group of people we have ever met. The third generation of this family is off studying and learning to come back and continue the legacy. Yannis, sweet, Eleni and their kids are defining the future of Greek Wine!
Here is the Q&A Interview with the UG Team and Mr. Papagyriou.
How did you get started in the wine business? Was there a certain moment where you knew wine was going to be a big part of your life?
My first experience was at the age of 7, helping my father at the harvest. After finishing my studies at the Agricultural University of Athens and later at the Geisenheim Wine Institute in Germany I returned home to succeed my father Aristeidis.
Tell us the story of the earliest stages of creating a wine business? What were the challenges and how did you overcame them?
It was a very difficult start, my parents had very few resources, for example there was no electricity! We overcame those difficulties with hard work, innovation and clever choices, such as the investment on high altitude vineyards and our dedication to low-intervention cultivation and winemaking. The biggest challenge was to create a distinctive kind of wine, with a unique, personal style.
What has surprised you about being a winemaker?
The fact that you cannot jump into the same river twice. There are no standards, each vintage is singular and we are still learning our vineyard. It’s really fascinating.
In the world of wine, who do you most admire and why? Who influenced you?
Definitely Robert Parker. Although there many people criticizing him, I think he was unique and his influence will be remembered in the centuries to come. No other wine writer/critic will ever be so influential as RP. For me, his writings have been an inspiration.
Do you think that Greek wines deserve more attention globally? Why?
There are thousands of different terroirs in Greece, making winemaking really interesting. Also the multitude of indigenous grapes is an advantage that other countries don’t have. Moreover, don’t underestimate the flexibility and independence of mind that many Greek winemakers possess. Greece has a lot to offer.
What is unique about Greek Grapes and Greek Wines?
The fact that they are different from the other world-known grapes. Enhanced by the influence of Greece’s terroirs, these indigenous grapes offer an array of aromas and flavors that has no peer.
How do you think people perceive Greek wines around the world?
Greek wine remains under the radar of most wine consumers. This has to do with bad image from the past, where both Greek cuisine and winemaking were just mediocre. In the last 20 years we have made many steps in the right direction, the positive trend has started.
How has wine production in Greece evolved over the last decades?
The wineries have emphasized on the export market, due to the crisis in Greece. The trend is more Greek varieties, more non-intervention winemaking, less quantity and better quality.
What have been some of the major technological advancements in winemaking in Greece?
I think that the most important factor was the use of cooling aggregates that started in the ‘90s. This gave the wines freshness, aromatic intensity and protected them from oxidation. Also the use of better and larger barrels has contributed to healthier wines with more fruit and better balance.
What do you think need to happen in order for Greek wines to gain international recognition and gain the same status of Italian or France wines?
Time, hard work, innovation and use of the indigenous varieties.
What are the benefits or challenges of producing wine in 2019 in Greece?
The challenge is –as always- to get the best from the vineyard, considering the weather conditions. I hope the summer and early autumn will be mild, with less rain than in 2018.
Which varietals are grown at the winery?
Muscat blanc a petit grains or Moshoudi, Assyrtiko, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne, Mavrostyfo and Goustolidi. From the international varieties, we have Syrah, Cab. Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
What is one of your favorite varietals to work with and why?
The Mavrostyfo grape, because it’ s a Greek grape but has the potential to be among the worls’s finest. Deep black color, attractive aromas and perfect balance of tannins and acidity.
What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?
More freshness while having mature, concentrated grapes.
What do you find to be the hardest part of harvest?
Waiting for the grapes to be physiologically mature while expecting rain.
What is one of the hardest things about winemaking year in and year out?
To get the most out of your grapes, e.g. to make as few mistakes as possible in the cellar.
What have been the best vintages?
For the white wine there are many, as we harvest earlier and there is less risk involved. For the red wine, my favorites are 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016.