It’s a Sunday morning. Cold and misty. Walking around, trying to grasp all the beauty around us before we leave. Now, we’re pretty lost at the hotel’s outside area and that’s where we meet Alexandros Ioannou, CEO of Katogi Hotel & Winery.
Yes, we loved Metsovo and we loved the Katogi wine, and we adored the hotel’s amenities -we were actually thrilled to find out that they are all wine-based- and we rushed to share everything with him as we walked towards the winery. It’d be a shame to leave having missed the opportunity to see where the famous Katogi wine is being made.
Besides, the winery offers to the public a 30-minute initiation tour to the various stages of winemaking and the history of Katogi Averoff estate.
Alexandros Ioannou, grandson of Evagelos Averoff-Tositsas, the man who brought his dream to life, began his tour by explaining how everything started.
Averoff, who was the driving force of Metsovo’s today economic vigor, ”once took over the reconstruction of a 13th century monastery and that’s where he found a 17th century cashbook of a monk who mentioned the production of wine in the area”. Averoff’s vision to make wines that could easily match up to the French ones had just started to take shape.
”He was, indeed, the first one to bring Cabernet Sauvignon varieties in Greece”, mr. Ioannou continued. Looking around, observing the evolution of the winery as a fast-growing company, was -to say the least- fascinating.
That was in the late 1950’s and from the early 1960’s until 1973, Averoff ”conducted the first vinification processes at the basement of his house and that’s why he named the label Katogi Averoff”, Katogi meaning basement.
The production was growing so fast that ”in 1973, Averoff moved to a small building and since then, eight more extensions were built in order to cover for it’’. Part of the eighth extention were the hotel and the part of the winery that is now open to the public.
Talking a little bit more about the wines, we couldn’t skip to mention our favorite one which was the Rossiu di Munte Vlachiko, a dry red, limited edition wine and ask for suggestions as to what to buy.
Nothing can compare to the iconic Katogi Averoff red which is in constant production since 1963, as mr. Ioannou explained. That is the company’s most popular label and is exceptionally food friendly although ”the Inima Xinomavro is one of the finest Greek red variety and is extremely popular abroad”, he added.
In the winery’s cellar there are more than 1200 French oak barrels, and you can even find rare and collectible bottled wines that date back to 1960 and 1970.
Heading towards the end of our tour, the only things that come to mind seeing and hearing about Katogi and its wines, are love and dedication. Love for the land and dedication to exceptional wine making.
We had now approached the winery’s shop where you can find more than 15 labels of different varieties. The vineyards in Yiniets are, in fact, the highest in Greece and planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Traminer and Vlachiko, an indigenous grape variety of Epirus.
As regards to Katogi Averoff as a brand, mr. Ioannou shared with us some of his plans for the hotel’s and winery’s future. New facilities and services are to be added, including a wine spa that will be as exciting as it sounds.
The company’s presence on social media is quite popular. In fact, both the hotel and the winery are welcoming more than 20,000 visitors per year, as visitors have started showing an increasing interest in food and wine tourism.
Our tour was over and it was now time to leave, with our three boxes of wine in hand. There was no better way to leave a place; inspired and full of knowledge.
If there was only one thing we could keep from this conversation it would be this; people can do a hell of a lot things when they put their heart into it. Besides, that’s what meraki is all about.
P.S. We will be back for the wine spa!