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white Muscat of Samos

white Muscat of Samos

In ancient times Samos was not famous for its wines, but it was highly developed in olive oil production, and Tyrant Polycrates tried and succeeded in the development of animal husbandry. This mode of exploitation of the land, seems to be more effective, economically, than wine, especially when Samos, lacked any variety for the production of quality wines, and when nearby islands offer quantities of such wines.

The variety white Muscat of Samos, which made world famous the island, did not exist in ancient times, the muscat wine of Samos first mentioned in the poem of Kaisarios Daponte (1714-1784, priest and scholar from Skopelos).

Accordingly, there is no doubt that with the reoccupation of the island, during the 16th century, some will be brought along in Samos and cultivated this variety, probably from Asia Minor, the soil and climate of Samos, helped the plant to give fully of qualities (aroma and sweetness), as mentioned in his book the professor of Agriculture university of Athens “dr O. Ntavidis”.

Grape phylloxera

Phylloxera the almost microscopic insect that caused the global financial crisis

Large development of vineyards in Samos, occurred in the second half of the 19th century, when in 1863 appeared the phylloxera at the vineyards of France, which transferred from America.

Europeans and especially French, for finding wine and raisins (from which they made wine), turned to the still uncontaminated areas of the eastern Mediterranean, where and Samos. The demand was great, prices rose sharply and it aroused the interest of farmers.  The author E.Stamatiadi wrote that cultivable area of vineyards reached 45.6 Km2, representing 9.5% of the total area of Samos island.

The Europeans and French find out that American vine species, due to the long coexistence with phylloxera, had acquired immunity, and then they created hybrids, which are used as subjects, on which inoculates the desired vines varieties. In this way they started to rebuilt the destroyed their vines. So until the early 1890s, they had created several vineyards.

There production was increased more and more, and thus buying less wine and raisins from the Eastern Mediterranean. So the wine and raisin supply grew, prices fell, resulting in a serious wine crisis in these areas.

John Nicolareizis winery at Samos

John Nicolareizis winery at Malagari at Samos city (the current position of EOSS)

At Samos (which was Hegemony at that time), just began to be felt the crisis, and appeared phylloxera,  which within a few years, destroyed all the vineyards at the island. The first phylloxera outbreak appeared in the spring of 1892, at the position “Stefania” in Mitilinoi region.

The Samos hegemonic government, to relieve the farmers, who lose their income, genuine arrangements were taken immediately, 1) promoted tobacco cultivation, which was a big chapter in the economic and agriculture history of the island, and 2) import from France “American cuttings”, resistant to phylloxera, which handed out donation to farmers to create again their vineyards and brought in Samos, special agronomists to give instructions and to organize agriculture.

The variety used almost exclusively, was the white muscat, because then, as now, the Muscat wine of Samos, was in great demand. The French were impressed by the flavor and sweetness of Samos Muscat, tried to cultivate in France but did not have the same results, this variety named “Muscat de Frontignan” or “Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains”.

The winemaking and marketing of wine till 1934, It was in the control of traders who bought the must from viticulturists and they made wine in their winery, called “taverns”. This gave them the advantage to set prices, buying the must at low prices and exploit the viticulturists. After that at 1934 established the “Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos” (EOSS), with the law 6085/1934, under which viticulturists give mandatory entire production to the Union, which produce the wine in two modern wineries in Malegari (at Samos city) and in Karlovasi and manages the wines produced successfully till today.

variety fokiano at Samos

variety fokiano

Today in Samos, 2,450 viticulturists, cultivate 15.5 km2 vineyards, from which only 0,5 km2, 2.6% are located in the southern part and the rest of 15.0 km2 , 97.4% in the north and the mountains.

The average annual production of grapes amounts to 8.014 tonnes, from which 7,861 tonnes (98.1%) Samos muscat, 117 tonnes (1.5%) and Fokiano & Ritino and rest 36 tonnes (0.4%) various other varieties.

The vine of Samos, did not have competitors and is a completely specialized cultivation for the Island. The values is very satisfactory for the growers and contribute to the expansion of the crop, especially in the western regions, in villages around the Karlovassi.

The wines of Samos, from grapes of the variety “Samos white Muscat”, is Protected Designation of Origin PDO, since 1970 with code ΣΜ.


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