Kontogiannis family has been growers since 5 generations. The small and up-coming winery concentrates all its efforts in producing wines made from privately owned vineyards grown under biodynamic and organic principles.
The mean age of the vineyards is between 35-50 years and since 1999 all of them are certified organic while from 2006 biodynamic. A hands-down philosophy is applied in the winery, where there are only spontaneous fermentations, minimal or total absence of SO2 and no filtration. Old gnarled vines, low yields, application of biodynamics and minimal intervention in the winery, combined with the passion of the family results in terroir- driven wines with great substance able to display their lovely, pure character.
● We would like a brief presentation of the winery from your inception to the present day and how your involvement with the estate began.
We are a small estate from Corinth that focuses on biodynamic agriculture and processing in complete harmony with the nature. We vinify exclusively indigenous varieties with minimal interventions and focus on the preservation of the ecosystem as well as the continuation and development of our plant and cultivation heritage.
The story of the family begins somewhere in the late 19th century where my great-grandfather began to plant and cultivate vines and olives south of the castle of Akrocorinth. In the decades that followed he had set up a small winery where it is said that everyone went to taste his wine. The 1962 earthquake destroyed the family's old house as well as the old barrels maintained by previous generations.
My involvement dates back to 1999 when my father and I decided to revive the family farming tradition. Since then we practice organic farming and since 2006 we enter the magical world of biodynamic agriculture. The milestone year for me was 2020 where I took over the entire wine production part of the family in order to create biodynamic wines with my personal approach.
My mission is to produce wines that give smiles and celebrate life.
●What is your winemaking style?
Our approach is a vinification of minimal interventions. The main issue is to express in the best possible way the truth that hides our terroir. Our inviolable principle is that the vineyard is at the center of the winemaking activity and our role is to communicate in the least effective way the stories that each year has to tell us.
● What parameters determine a great year?
The main factors that will determine each year are two: On the one hand, it has always been and will be the vineyard and its condition. The health of the grapes, the quality of the fruit, the well-being of the stems as well as the aura that the whole ecosystem of the vineyard emits.
But at the same time, because I believe that wine is a way of communicating emotions, I believe that the emotional state of the winemaker - winemaker plays a role in the final result. Both for the grape and the wine. My grandfather used to say that the vineyard should feel you, lean on the vines and show your love. I think the same is true of wine. If I have negative feelings while I am next to a wine while it is fermenting and evolving, these feelings will be transferred to the wine as well. Every year, therefore, has its truth.
● Who are the people and colleagues who have inspired you so far in your career?
For me, the main inspiration comes from the family. But the family has a broader context. It is not just those who have blood ties, they are the people we share common values and approaches. People with passion and respect for nature and life. I could not miss Gabriel Panagos and Mario Desyllas where are our biodynamic companions from the beginning of our project as well as Panos and Spyros Zoumboulis who have been working together since I took over the winemaking activity of the family.
● Which of your colleagues do you admire the most? Is there a specific wine or style that you enjoy?
I appreciate several fellow viticulturists, winemakers, oenologists and wine traders. What I notice is that the love for the vine and the grape and the passion for the wine are the connecting link and the feature that makes them stand out. I can say that I am fascinated by wines from old vines.
● What is your favorite variety and why?
I do not have a favorite variety, because I believe that all varieties have one or more interesting perspectives. But I will refer to one that I have dealt with and studied more, Mavroudi. To be more specific, I would refer to the Mavroudi family, which remains an unsolved mystery that I find quite attractive as I unravel the tangle of their story.
●Can you remember a specific vintage and why?
I can remember several vintages, but I think that due to the period (late September) I could not fail to refer to this year's vintage (2021) where the value of the biodynamic approach to the vineyard is really monumental. At a time when the prolonged heatwaves almost destroyed many vineyards in the area, we managed to have excellent quality grapes. The stumps, although dry, have shown that with the right messages they not only survive the heat but are quite energetic and robust.
●What are the daily challenges that a winemaker faces every year?
Most of the challenges each year are basically related to working in the vineyard. If I had to pick the biggest challenge right now, that would be climate change. The way in which anthropogenic interventions have affected the climate and the ecosystem is something that concerns us and affects us to the greatest extent. Biodynamic farming is for me a means to help our ecosystem adapt better and smoother to this coming change. I am not trying to say that we are smarter than nature, but the most important thing is to empower nature from within. To follow, thus, a holistic approach to this great challenge that we have as growers.
●Does the greatest reward for a winemaker come when he works in the vineyard or winery?
Viticulture and winemaking are so closely linked that there is no clear answer to this. Since I am fortunate to have direct contact with the cultivation and processing of various biodynamic foods of the family, I have come to the following: Wine for me is the product that expresses more than any other the truth of biodynamic philosophy. And this is because soil, plant, fruit, man and product are so inextricably linked and interdependent in biodynamic vinification.
●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 an integral part of the wider circle to which we belong. This cycle starts from the vineyard, is transferred to the winemaking, then to the market and must end again in the vineyard. There the wine lover can listen to the true character of a wine. It is very important for us to have this open communication and interaction with the market through channels that share the same values and can be characterized as "family" as I mentioned earlier. A difficulty that was characteristic of recent situations was the inability to coexist in a common space, to taste wines and to interact. But I can say that zoom tasting was an interesting experience ..!
●How do you see the modern consumer? Has his eating habits changed and what do you think is driving his interest today?
We live in an age where the impact of our actions on nature is more apparent than ever. The results of anthropogenic interventions and the reckless use of chemicals has affected the environment around us and then our food. Sustainability is the key word that characterizes an ever-increasing part of the public in combination with the imprint that each of our actions has on the ecosystem we live in.