Have you ever considered that by following a wine trail, you can experience the colourful and diverse life of the locals that has roots going centuries back? Have you ever thought that this trail can lead you amongst other things to the vineyards of Athos and to the secret “wine paths” of the holy state ?
If not, then you should follow the “wine roads of eastern Chalkidiki” and allow yourself to be given a tour of its stone build villages, starting from Arnea where a lot of Greek grape varieties are being grown, like Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Xinomavro.
You will discover that the people living in the Macedonian settlements, hosted in the green slopes of Cholomonda mountain, live their lives today through yesterdays experiences, looking into tomorrow.
They produce honey from the wild flowers and trees of the mountainous slopes, while “combing” the same mountain for wild mushrooms and fragrant herbs that accompany their traditional “tsipouro meze” and the wine get-togethers with friends .
They produce smooth cheeses and yoghurts while kneading “trachana” (a homemade pasta) and baking pies, stuffing sausages with lemon and orange zest and putting out to dry on “bourlees” the local raw beans that thrive on the wet soil of their mountainous fields.
All that while saying “stin ygia sou” (cheers) with Moudovina, a grapa like drink made from beeswax, in which you can taste wax and honey at the same time.
You will find yourself walking through the alleys of Megali Panagia (Great Holy Mary) visiting the “tsipouro kazania” (copper tanks used to distill the local grapa) and the little tavernas where the locals drink their own production of wine and tsipouro.
You will have the opportunity to taste the xinomavro grape variety which is considered the “king of Macedonia” as well as the assyrtiko and taste the famous wines of the “holy mountain” (Agio Oros).
You”ll witness how the powerful tsipouro is produced, made from grapes, mountain fruits and seeds that the earth so gracefully provides them with.
Don”t miss out on all that: Be part of the hospitable local “parea” (a gathering of friends) that celebrates the autumn production of the tsipouro, amongst the hot “kazania” (copper tanks) scattered around the village, the local musicians, dancers and spontaneous songwriters that love and honour earth in every possible way for the gifts they so plentiful receive from it.
You can bike from Pyrgadikia to Ierisso, following the “Olivetree trail” in order to reach Xiropotami with its beautiful sandy beaches and the vineyards “hanging” from its slopes.
Across from the holy tip of Mount Athos, set in the most spectacular green turquoise landscape, grapes have been grown here for 1500 years. Greek indigenous varieties as well as the international Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others grow in these fertile slopes, producing a wine unlike any other.
You will meet the local authentic Greek boatbuilders, fishermen, traders, builders and farmers.
Mingle with them and you will have the opportunity to taste the “salted orkini” (a local fish, found only in these waters), the wild artichokes cooked with farm eggs, the fried little anchovies and the delicious sun-dried octopus!
The local old sailors won’t miss out on a chance to tell you stories of their trips at sea and you should allow yourself to be teased by the elders.
The people from Ierisso will make you feel like you belong. You’ll feel like you were always ‘from there’ and have always been ‘one of them’. They are in the spontaneous people that make you feel part of the ‘parea’ that know how to have a good time, the people of endless celebration and carefree joy.
The last destination of your journey will be mount Athos (the holy mountain) where you will find yourself walking amongst the ‘wine light’.
Twelve wineries inside the ‘closed off for women’ holy land await you to discover the ‘divine myth’ that surrounds the wines of mount Athos. Grapes that are picked by the hard working and wrinkled hands of the monks, then pressed to produce their fruitful aromatic juices which combined with the scent of the soil and the breeze of the sea, will make this tour the most memorable experience of your life!