Please see HERE the Mount Athos wineries.
Mount Athos is the easternmost of the three Halkidiki peninsulas in the northern Aegean Sea. This unusual wine region is of great spiritual significance to the Eastern Christian Orthodox Church, and 20 monasteries can be found along the coast of the peninsula. Wine has been produced by the monasteries for centuries from grape varieties such as Assyrtiko, Limnio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The thin, mountainous peninsula extends some 30 miles (50km) into the ocean, with the peak of Mount Athos itself situated at the very end. Small, fragmented vineyards can be found in the hilly sites surrounding the monasteries, often on terraces cut into the side of the mountains. These vineyards sit at altitudes of between 300ft and 1200ft (100m to 400m) above sea level.
The classic Mediterranean climate on Mount Athos is tempered by the mountainous nature of the region. Warm summers with high levels of sunshine are moderated by the presence of the mountain, which contributes cooler air at night time, helping to slow the ripening process during the growing season. This diurnal temperature variation means that grapes can retain acidity as they develop rich flavor complexity.
The small amount of rain that Mount Athos receives falls mainly in the mild winter months, so vignerons must be careful to ensure the vines receive ample hydration during the growing season. Luckily, snowmelt water from the mountains is plentiful, hence irrigation is not widely used in Mount Athos’s vineyards. The sandy, free-draining soils allow the roots to penetrate deeply into the granitic bedrock, accessing water and minerals stored deep in the ground. Due to the remoteness of the vineyards on this sparsely populated peninsula, organic farming practices are easily maintained.
Mount Athos is unusual as a wine-producing region in that there is no wine tourism industry here, due to the heavy restrictions on entry to the peninsula. Only adult males who belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church are permitted to reside here, and visitors must obtain a special permit to visit the land. Mount Athos is completely closed to women, and has been for centuries.
Although the history of wine production on Mount Athos reaches back centuries, Mount Athos wine has been available to a wider audience for only a few decades. The Tsantalis winemaking family has had viticultural interests on the island since the 1970s and today makes wines from an array of grape varieties grown on Mount Athos. Assyrtiko, Athiri and Chardonnay from Mount Athos are typically high in acidity with a crisp, sometimes mineral character. Red wine from Mount Athos is often made from Limnio and Cabernet Sauvignon and is bright in style, with high levels of alcohol.