Yamas! Celebrating the winning wines of Samos
You can probably buy wines from Samos in a supermarket near you. Now visit the lovely island where the grapes are grown
It is believed that wine has been produced on Samos for more than 3,000 years. Ancient Greek physicians wrote about it. Today the vineyards scattered across the small island manage to produce close to two million gallons every year.
Not just any old wine, either. The white Muscat grapes you can see growing on the island’s mountainside terraces produce an award-winning sweet dessert wine that is sold all over the world. It is claimed that more than half of the exported wine goes to France where it is enjoyed as an aperitif.
It is also a key ingredient in Metaxa, the internationally famous Greek spirit. The wine is shipped to Athens where it is left to age before being added to help create the aroma and taste. The inclusion of the wine means that, strictly speaking, Metaxa cannot be described as a brandy.
A co-operative of more than 2,000 wine producers harvest 6,000 tons of grapes a year. Most of them are grown on the lower slopes of Mount Ambelos (the Greek word for vine), one of the few places in the world where the mix of soil, sun, rain and wind are perfect for the Muscat grapes.
Two wineries on the island bottle the finished products, the best known of which is probably Samos Vin Doux, the most popular wine on the island and the top-selling sweet wine in Greece. Look out for it in the UK and some other Samos wines too.
The Museum of Samos Wine, in a splendid old stone building in Vathy, celebrates the wine and traces its history and production techniques with displays of wine-making machinery, wooden barrels and tanks, old photographs – and, sometimes, wine tasting too.