Greece’s Mountain Wine Country and the Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery
Greece is a destination with endless places to see and experiences to enjoy. Most will know about Athens with its history dating back thousands of years or the picture perfect islands like Mykonos, Crete, and Santorini. But there’s another part of Greece, in the north, surround by mountains and forest, where brown bears still roam the woods. The area is Metsovo and it is a traditional mountainside village surrounded by vistas of the awe-inspiring Mount Pindos. It is also the home of the Katogi Averoff Hotel and Winery.
The Katogi Averoff Hotel and Winery is a recently opened four star boutique hotel adjacent to one of the top wineries and cellar doors in Greece. The hotel allows for its guests to enjoy the authentic cuisine of the region as well as exquisite wines.
Metsovo has the feeling of a mountain village like you would find in Switzerland or Germany. The center of town is a 10-minute stroll away where guests explore the cobble stone roads that cross the village, bistros and taverns and wooden chalet style hotels. There are also lovely museums, plenty of tourist shops, parks and a grand church that dominates the town center. It is also known for its famous Metsovone and Metsovela cheeses as well as its nearby skiing in winter.
The winery’s founder, Evangelos Averoff, was a renaissance man who was a government official, prolific writer as well as an oenophile, viticulturist, and pioneer of Greek wine tourism. In the 1950s he planted Greeks first Cabernet Sauvignon vines, brought from Bordeaux, on the slopes of Mount Pindus. Greece has a number of interesting grape varieties found nowhere else in the world and when blended with old world grapes create something unique wonderful. The company now has 60 hectares of vineyards in throughout Greece producing old-world and Greek varietal grapes.
Katogi Averoff produces several wines including whites and roses but is most known for its red wines which have won a number of international awards. Their most iconic wine is the Katogi Averoff Red which has been in production since 1963 and uses the same label design from when it was first produced over 50 years ago. The wine is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Agriorgitiko, a local Greek varietal, aged in oak barrels for a year. The tasting notes indicated that it has red-fruit aromas, with a smooth, full mouth feel, culminating in a long, fulfilling aftertaste.
One of the more heralded wines is the Averoff Estate Cabernet Sauvignon which is a dry red wine with its vineyard in Metsovo. It is aged for two years and is a full body wine with a mild tannic finish and long aftertastes. This robust wine can easily age for 10 years before maturity.
The winery is a destination unto itself and an ideal for a few hours of touring and tasting. This is not your everyday wine cellar, the next generation of Averoffs has created a visually stunning facility that focuses on the design and the experience with multimedia artwork, mood colors and neon lights for effect. Music plays thoughtout with the idea that, in some way, it impacts the wine as it ages in the barrels.
After the tour of the winery, the next stop is the tasting area which has an exceptional design with a rich wooden bar, effect lighting, and a wall of bottles backlit with red light. The winetasting experience at Katogi Averoff is essential for any wine lover visiting central Greece.
The hotel is a few steps away from the winery. It is a modern building constructed in 2008 with fifteen rooms and suites, a full service bar and restaurant. Guests will appreciated the authentic Greek mountain design and style representative of the Metsovo area. The décor is a seamless blend of tradition and contemporary styles with paintings and artwork created by talented local artists. The lounge area is comfortable with plenty of space to spread out and a fireplace the crackles in the cooler months. There is a long bar area as well with tables serving afternoon snacks.
The staff is warm and friendly and a true representation of Greek Hospitality. All your needs are taken care of by the front desk staff from arranging a tour or advice on where to go for dinner in town. The restaurant’s staff is quite accommodating as well and you’ll often see the chef checking in to see guests enjoying his creations. The wait staff could not be more engaging as well asking about your day or just wishing you a pleasant Kalimera (good morning).
After all of the wine and dining guests can retreat to the comfort of their spacious rooms with traditional regional furnishings, indigenous décor and local artwork. Many of the units also have balconies with tables and chairs perfect for having your morning coffee while taking in the sweeping views of the mountainous landscape. The fifteen accommodations range from single rooms to the larger suites with fireplace and separate living area.
The great thing about traveling outside of the major cities and tourism areas is that you get to experience an unpasteurized Greek experience. Nowhere is that further on display than in the meals you’ll cherish at the Katogi Averoff. Guests dine on real Greek dishes as they dined on over the generations in this area. Don’t expect a Micheline 3 star degustation menu. What you can expect is delicious meal from centuries old recipes made with fresh organic ingredients sourced from the nearby farms. The area is particularly known for their local cheeses so expect to sample that at each meal.
The Greeks put a particular emphasis on starting the day with a hearty breakfast and Katogi Averoff aptly follows the tradition. Guests dine on an assortment locally sourced Greek pastries, homemade breads, and their hearty pies with vegetables and cheeses in a flaky crust.
Metsovo is delightfully off-the-beaten-path away from the shiny lights of Athens of the pulsating beaches of Santorini and Mykonos. Spending three or four nights at the Katogi Averoff Hotel and Winery is an ideal way to enjoy in the best of authentic local wine, dining and mountainside living that this region has to offer.