Wine Laws

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Wine production in Greece dates back to ancient times. Early colonization lead to the spread of the vine throughout Greece to other parts of the Mediterranean. Wine is produced throughout the country. Specifically, there are four main growing regions in Greece: Northern Greece, Central Greece, Peloponnese and the Islands. Depending on the location of the vineyards, the vines are either bush vines or trained on wires. Currently, there are approximately 186,000 hectares of land under vine. Approximately 97,000 hectares are planted with vitis vinfiera varieties.

The modernization of the Greek wine trade began in 1937 when the Wine Institute of Athens was established. The institute experiments with wine making techniques and serves as a consultant to wine makers. In 1971, unified movements to improve the quality of Greek wine began with the establishment of the first wine laws. Ten years later, Greece joined the European Economic Community and adopted their viticultural policies. The important Legislative Wine Categories are as follows:

  • Term

    Definition

  • O.P.A.P
    Dry wine described as Appellation of Superior Quality. The wines are named after a specific geographic location. According to EU law, a specific grape variety must be used in making the appellation wine. A pink seal over the cork signifies this.
  • Topikos Oinos
    Equivalent to the French Vin de Pays. The name of the region can replace the word “Oinos” on the label.
  • Epitrapezos Oinos Cava
    Still wine with minimum aging requirements. Red wines require a minimum of three years in the cellar and a minimum of one year in the bottle. White wines require two years of cellar aging with optional bottle aging.
  • Appellation by Tradition
    Wine that is recognized as an exclusive Greek product, for example, Retsina.
  • O.P.E.
    Controlled Appellation of Origin for sweet wines produced from the Muscat or Mavrodaphne grapes. A blue seal over the cork signifies this appellation.

Selected producers are successfully growing noble grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. These varieties are not included in the quality wine category. All wines produced by foreign grapes are considered table wine.

Note: In an effort to unify member country appellation laws, the EU passed legislation in 2009 to this effect. Over the next few years, EU countries will be required to begin using the EU mandated appellation names. Once the language and requirements are confirmed, we will update this section of the website. In the meantime, click here for the map listing the new EU appellations and classification.

**In order to declare a wine from a specific vintage, a minimum of 85% of the wine must be from the declared year.**