A Visit to Wine Country in Rhodes

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Wine CountryRhodes was one of the first of the Aegean islands to adopt the cultivation of the grapevine and winemaking process. Today, Rhodian wine has a fine reputation.

Just more than a mile outside Rhodes town is the CAIR winery. Founded in 1928 by Italians but now Greek owned and operated, it is one of the major wine producing companies in Greece. CAIR has won numerous awards in international competitions and exports to Europe and America. CAIR’s wine is produced on two sites. The original site produces Chevalier, llios and Retsina. The remaining labels are produced at a plant just outside of the city. CAIR winery sells the white varieties of Athiri, Malagouzia, Asyrtiko, Moschato white, Moschato Trani, Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Uni Blanc and the red varieties of Mandilaria, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo.

Embonas, located on the slopes of Mt. Ataviros (Rhodes’s highest peak at 3,986 feet) is where you’ll find Rhodes’s wine country. Embonas is considered to be the wine capital of Rhodes. The area specializes in two wines. Athiri is a vibrant and fruity white wine that has tropical fruit and honey tones. It pairs well with poultry, pork, pasta, grilled fish, and white cheeses. Mandilaria is a rich and intense red wine that has hints of pomegranate and pairs well with grilled and stewed meats, spicy sauces, and mild cheeses. Other popular reds in the area include Xinomavro, Cabernet, Grenache, and Syrah.

The village of Embonas is where you’ll find the Emery Winery, one of the oldest and largest wineries in Greece. Emery Winery is owned by the Triantafyllou family and currently run by the third generation. They entered the beverage business in 1923 as distillers and exported their spirits worldwide. The company began making wine on a large scale in 1966 and constructed the winery in 1974. The name Emery is now synonymous with the utmost respect for taste, tradition, and quality wine making. The Emery Winery offers a distinctive range of quality wines from unique varietal grapes. The winery has received recognition for its Granrose made from Dimitina, a type of Mandilaria. Other top Emery Winery wines include Athiri Vounouplagias, Rodofili, and Zacosta.  A wine tasting is available to visitors.

While CAIR winery and Emery Winery are the two distinguished wineries on the island, there are plenty of smaller wineries to visit. The Anastasia winery close to Petaloudes, or the “Valley of the Butterflies”, was founded in 1995 and started with 2 wines. The winery now offers more than 10 different wines and also produces extra virgin olive oils. Every wine can be sampled.

Three smaller, traditional wineries that also offer tastings can be found in Embonas. The Kounakis winery, founded in 1928, produces more than 20,000 bottles of wine a year. The Alexandris winery is a second-generation wine producer that produces red and white wines. The Merkouris winery offers fresh wines without chemical intervention. They also make Souma from their grapes.

If you are interested in visiting the wineries of Rhodes, you may want to look into taking a Rhodes wine tour that will provide transportation to each winery.

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