Did we tasted wine and ate tasteful food and learned about history? Not just that… We tasted life through all 5 senses, we tasted the essence of the area, its fruits and spirit(s) and we got close with the roots and origins of the country, through history. But, allow us to tell the story…
It was that time of the day in the mid-week where we were looking to do something completely different in the approaching weekend. Well, we must have thought of it quite intensively, as an invitation flew in -through Facebook- to visit Nemea for an event that would combine wine tasting, tour-guiding from a famous Berkeley professor and archaeologist and a peculiar event that was named “wine cycling”. The event seemed to be very promising, as a team of passionate people from “Experience Corinthia Network” proposed an all-five-senses experience. The truth…? It was much more than promising!
So, we said. Sure, why not? We do like all these and we like to learn new things, plus that wine cycling must be very interesting… I mean… after tasting all that wine…
So, we got into the car and drove around 1 hour to Ancient Kleones (from Athens), a simple quite village at the Nemea area at Peloponnese. We were expecting to find a cold and cloudy weather, however the Gods of Greece blessed us with an amazing sunshine and temperature at these first days of November. We got our winter jackets just in case, but eventually they remained at the car, letting us enjoy the Greek sun wearing our T-shirts (!).
At the Lafkiotis Winery
When we arrived at the Lafkiotis Winery and saw the valley view from the winery hill, spreading wide and all green in front of us, we immediately knew that this day would be amazing. You know, it’s like the beginning of a really good movie where you get that feeling that this movie will be great. Daphne and Stavros (from “Experience Corinthia Network”) welcomed us and introduced us to the rest while they drove us to a buffet with coffee, croissants, cookies and tea. Prior to the beginning of the event we had the opportunity to exchange many interesting ideas and conduct discussions on how the activities and wine tourism could act for the benefit of Greece. We talked with some really interesting people eager to listen and share.
With all the discussions, the friendly feeling and a glorious sun, time was passing and a very interesting and special group of people was starting to sum up: cycling trainers, oenologists, yoga and wellness instructors, wine journalists, hotel owners, travel agencies, and top of all… lovers of good wine.
The event begun and we had this amazing opportunity to be guided through the Cellar where the wine was brewing while we received a lot of info on how this happens and why special conditions are needed.
After that we moved to another amazing traditional area of the vineyard installations where we learned a lot about the wine varieties of the area from Ioanna Davleri, an expert oenologist from Evoin-Evan Oenologists. Ioanna was our guide to the wine tasting experience that followed the presentation.
And there was where our taste buds bloomed! We used the special glasses per wine type and tried 3 different types of wine (White, Rose, Red). As we were guided to explore the different aromas and tastes of them (by stirring, smelling, watching, tasting) it was like a bouquet of senses, fruits, memories and culture rose up from inside the glass. By moving from one color to another the feelings were building up!
Ioanna informed us that different tastes had to do with the actual wine and land and process, while no additives were poured into the wine. Well, we smelled strawberries and cinnamon and trees and smoke from burning wood, and all these through the different types. Now, close your eyes and imagine inhaling the vapors of the wine flying from the glass, through your nose and into the brain, bringing up memories and bliss. Isn’t this magical? Trust us, it was.
Dr. Miller and Ancient Nemea
It was time to ride the bicycles and move to another location (15 minutes away) to the ancient ruins and museum of Nemean Zeus and the ancient stadium where the Nemean Games took place at ancient (and through modern revival) times.
With Themos Nikoletopoulos (also a wine lover and connaisseure, plus cyclist) as our guide and a cheerful mood (a result of the previous joyful experience) we cycled to the Ancient Nemea location and met Dr. Miller.
Dr. Stephen Miller, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley (now retired), lives in Greece and is the person responsible for the excavations at the area, bringing up all these ancient treasures. But that was not the only thing he did, as we would soon find out.
We found out that Dr. Miller is a wonderful personality and he was passionate to deliver as many (and meaningful) information as he could. Dr. Miller also guided us through the Ancient Stadium nearby, where along with the support of locals he managed to revive the Ancient Nemean Games through an event organized first at 1996, then at 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and which will now re-happen at 2016. We learned a lot for the history of the area (you are definitely familiar with the legend of Hercules and the Lion) and that the Nemean Games were a huge event at ancient times. A thing you definitely need to know is that all these years the work of Dr. Miller was supported and funded by private institutions and not from the actual Greek government. Talking about passion, determination and love for Greece, right?
We left from the location with a feeling of “grandeur” after learning all these facts. Dr. Miller –while at the Stadium- managed to get us into “that” feeling of the games, along with the anecdotes of how this place was discovered. You must definitely see the video from their Nemean Games website, where athletes from all over the world participated. It’s amazingly emotional and inspiring.
At Papaioannou Winery
Since we were at the area, Daphne and Stavros along with Themos had another surprise for us. At a 2 minutes walking distance, we “landed” at the famous Papaioannou Winery where we tasted even more unique wines.
We experienced an amazing bouquet of 10 different wine tastes and aromas along with special cooked meat and cheese plates to enhance the tasting experience, while Themos vividly spoke about how and why specific wines are served along with specific food.
The experience “aftermath”
So, someone may ask, was it about the wine tasting? We would say it was far from that.
It was about the feeling and the experience we got at the end of the day. That was a feeling of joy, bliss, the learning of tons of things, the amazingly interesting people and an enhancement of our belief that people together have things to share and things to keep them united.
People choose life at any given point and such experiences where life is experienced with all senses, are experiences well lived.
So, we are ready for the next adventure. Now…, where will that be?