Both Memorial Day weekend and the St. Anna Greek Food and Wine Festival in Roseville have officially marked the start of summer for me two years running. It’s never too early to mark your calendar for 2018 and plan to spend a day kicking off your summer, Greek-style.
When I think Greek festival, I think amazing, authentic Greek food – of course, custom and culture, too, but if I’m being honest, the food is top of mind for me. From Moussaka, to spanakopita, and a plethora of salads in between, you have to come hungry and try a little of everything.
But even better than the food this year was the special sampling of five imported Greek wines from vines throughout Greece. Didn’t know Greece was a wine producer, did ya? Well, Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, but Greek wine is not widely available here in the U.S. Well, until now that is, thanks to a local importer, Shaji Mathew, who is introducing Greek wines to festival-goers across the region. Now in their second year serving up the Greek Festival in Roseville, his imports are catching on and selling out by the glass.
Shaji and his wife, Vijna, have a belief in sharing the wines “from people who want to swim against the current,” Shaji says. They travel throughout the world to visit wineries and to meet winemakers, mostly those who produce 30,000 bottles or less from Greece, France, Spain, Italy, and Argentina, with plans for introducing some Mexican wines soon.
“I travel to meet the winemakers, get an understanding what the wines are about, to know what they’re doing in their vineyards, so I know what to expect in the wine. Authenticity is key. These wines are not mass produced and there’s a story behind each one.”
With each taste, I was instantly transported to the islands of Crete and Evia, with their blue waters and white rooftops. The white and light red blends were refreshing for a hot summer day: Pop Art, a dry white blend of Athiri and Malagousia varietals from Lykos Winery reflected subtle stone fruit flavors, and my fruit-forward favorite, a Grenache Rouge by Idaia Winery, was very pleasing to the palate.
All the vineyards Shaji works with grow their grapes sustainably, and many also practice organic and bio-dynamic farming. He brings the fruits of that meticulous labor here through his website Terra Vigna, wine club and at festivals, re-distributing throughout the U.S. (where possible), for all to try.
Visit Terra Vigna’s website to learn more about Greek wines, or consider visiting one of these two upcoming festivals to experiences the wines first-hand:
San Jose Greek Festival: June 2, 3 & 4
Reno Greek Festival: August 18, 19, 20
And, cheers! Or, in Greek, ΥΓΕΙΑ (phonetic pronunciation: Yamas)!