It’s not so often that you meet people as dedicated and passionate with their vineyard and with great respect in
nature as Panagiotis Dimitropoulos from Sant’ Or winery.
Panagiotis is a small vigneron crafting around 20.000 bottles each year. He took over the family estate in 2007 and since then he works in harmony with his vines and the nature. He grows his vineyard according to the principles of biodynamics and he also has a hands-off approach in winemaking.
He takes care of some really old Mavrodaphne vines, dry-farmed Roditis and the rare local Santameriana grape along with vines from Agiorgitiko planted in the plateau of Asprokabos in Nemea. This is the
first ever Greek winery that from 2019 vintage is certified as biodynamic from Demeter Organization.
● We would like a brief presentation of the winery from your inception to the present day and how your involvement with the estate began.
Viticulture has been a family affair since my childhood. From the time I was studying, I was helping my father in the small family vineyard. He planted the first vineyard with Mavrodafni in Santomeri before I was even born. From this particular autorizo vineyard, which is over 50 years old, I produce today the dry Mavrodafni of the estate, Krasis. At that time Mavrodafni gave wine only for our home and the needs of the family.
I also remember, at the age of about 8, helping my father plant Roditis stems among the olive trees. As a kid, I used to split vines from hole to hole. This contact with nature from my young age was the occasion for the farmer's germ to pass inside me. We did everything ourselves, we cultivated the vines without additions and the cultivation was organic since then. We sold Roditis in crates (merchants with trucks and crates), while we made Mavrodafni winemaking for our house. In 1998 came the organic certification of the vineyards and we started to produce a little more wine which I started selling door to door. The wine won me over and so I decided to build a small winery and instead of selling I make my own grapes.
●What is your winemaking style?
Working the vineyard with my own hands and without any chemical interventions I have decided to follow the philosophy of gentle interventions in the winery as well. The crop is biodynamic (certified for privately owned vineyards) which helps me get an excellent raw material, which does not need many interventions in the winery to be transformed into wine.
● What parameters determine a great year?
The summer rains are the ones that largely determine the quality of the year in my area, in Kato Achaia.
● Who are the people and colleagues who have inspired you so far in your career?
My parents were the ones who largely determined my philosophy. Unfortunately they are now gone but I remain faithful to the principles of my family. Also my own family supports me in every choice I make and in all the difficulties. Since then, my oenologist Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos and consultant in all decisions, my graphic designer and best man Kosmas Apatangelos and my biodynamic consultant Marios Desyllas have inspired all the effort I make and my choices.
● Which of your colleagues do you admire the most? Is there a specific wine or style that you enjoy?
My oenologist Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos is one of the people I admire a lot and through our cooperation we have developed a harmonious relationship and identified in terms of our ideas and choices.
● What is your favorite variety and why?
Surely Santameriana is a unique variety that we have revived in the area and belongs to the family of Whites. However, Mavrodafni has a special place in my heart because it is the connecting link with my father and through it I loved from my young years viticulture and winemaking..
●Can you remember a specific vintage and why?
There is no vintage that I can single out. They all have the same effort and the same camouflage and are always special and challenging. For each vintage I have something special to remember.
●What are the daily challenges that a winemaker faces every year?
As a producer of mild intervention wines to a large extent one believes that we are the culmination of the weather every year. And yet what happens with biodynamic cultivation and constant observation in the vineyard is that we finally manage to grow plants that have a strong immune system and are able to better respond to the difficulties and challenges of each year.
●Does the greatest reward for a winemaker come when he works in the vineyard or winery?
It's not something I can single out. Based on biodynamics, cultivation and vinification are interrelated. The purpose is to transform the grapes we get into wine in ideal conditions and with the least possible interventions. I am interested every year and its peculiarities are reflected in the wines I produce.
●How difficult is the market for new producers? What difficulties do you face in relation to your potential customers? How do you approach them?
The market is always full of challenges. For me, however, what matters is the path you choose to walk and how much you are willing to work, to fight with perseverance, patience and prudence. As long as you love what you do, as long as you stay true to your principles and do not give up in the first difficulties, it means that the market will come when it will believe in you. I never stopped presenting my wines but I always tried to have people around me with whom I could share everything I stand for. Anyway, I am a very small producer and for me it is important who is in front of me, to match with me.
●How do you see the modern consumer? Has his eating habits changed and what do you think is driving his interest today?
I believe that the return to principles and ideals that we forgot in the course of our lives and the concept of authenticity is very important for the consumer today. Sometimes I feel that we go back to techniques and years that we left behind a long time ago, or that due to speed we did not even get to know. Quality is a key point for the modern consumer and has to do with much more than a very good wine. He is interested in knowing where it is made, how it is made, consistency, prudence and good practices. Taste but also sustainability.