Winemakers on Greek island turn to Chinese market

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Local winemakers on the Greek island of Lesvos are promoting their products as far away as China, seeking a breath of fresh air from the burden of the economic crisis that has hit their island.

Thousands of bottles of wine produced by local family wineries on Lesvos, have already been exported to Shanghai in recent years.

Xinhua reporters visited a winery located at Mytilene, the capital of Lesvos, to witness the production process and talk with owner Prodromos Paterellis who recently welcomed Shanghai's Mr. Zhang, who imports Greek wines to China.

Speaking shortly after presenting the winery at a conference on innovation and business development, Paterellis explained why one should choose Lesvos' wines.

The third largest Greek island and the seventh largest in the Mediterranean Sea, it is considered one of the richest ecosystems in the Mediterranean.

Here, the locally produced wine tastes like "liquid gold," the locals claim.

The bottling line at Paterellis family's winery includes a range of machines. In the stainless wine fermentation tanks the temperature should be maintained between 15 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees Celsius in order to achieve optimum fermentation.

"This is the most critical point of wine making, when the sugars are converted into alcohol, which is controlled by the stabilizer," Paterellis explained.

Regarding the grape varieties, the local red variety of Lesvos grape is cultivated in the crater of the volcano that created the petrified forest of the island about 20 million years ago.

In the northwestern part of the island, one can find grape varieties such as Fokiano Kalloniatis and Muscat. In the mountainous regions of Megalochori, Plomari, and other villages, the most popular grape varieties cultivated are Mandilaria, Athiri, Assyrtiko and Muscat white.

"Seeking excellent quality, we chose the best areas of Lesbian land to cultivate varieties of unique character to highlight the special characteristics of Lesvos' vineyards," Paterellis said.

The winemaker works at the family winery with his father, sister, and uncle.

Paterellis' father is a pharmacist by profession, but it had been his dream since he was a student to create a winery.

"In 2003, my father started making the building and preparing the field and in 2009 we had our first vine harvest," Paterellis said.

Besides the family vineyards in the villages of Karionas and Megalochori, their winery co-operates with 70 local grape growers.

The winery produces 80 to 100 tons of wine annually and exports 20,000 bottles to California in the United States and 30,000 bottles to Shanghai in China.

"Since 2014, we have participated in wine exhibitions in Shanghai and have received very good reviews," Paterellis said.

Zhang said that during his visit to Lesvos he chose to import the local wine because it correlated with the history and the tradition of the island.

He added that although Greek wines had only reached the Chinese market in recent years, they were becoming more and more popular.

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