Naoussa: The Greek Napa Valley

Take a tour of the rich wine-growing region of Naoussa, lying between mountains and plains in Central Macedonia.

During the summer, the trees on the Plain of Imathia are laden with fresh fruit: cherries, plums and, of course, the aromatic peaches of the region are all in season. Those traveling through the region often stop at makeshift roadside stalls to buy baskets of these items picked only a few minutes earlier. This bountiful landscape, however, is renowned for a different fruit altogether, the one in its famed vineyards encircling the mountain slopes and the plain. This is where the Xinomavro grape variety is cultivated, the leading red variety of Greece. This is also where more than 20 notable wineries are located, a fact that explains why Naoussa is called Greece’s Napa Valley.

Paliokalias, Fyteia (or Fytia), Vrana Petra, Gastra, Ramnitsa, Karaoutsa, Strantza, and Polla Nera are place names that also indicate renowned vineyards and wineries; depending on location and microclimate, the grapes and, by extension, the wine are both endowed with particular characteristics. The more mountainous Fyteia gives finesse and acidic tones; Paliokalias produces wines that are suited to long ageing; and Vrana Petra, with its granite subsoil, provides finesse and a full body.

By prior arrangement, you can enjoy a guided tour, often led by the producers themselves, of these wineries (17 of which lie within the PDO region of Naoussa). You can enjoy sampling current or previous vintages as well as wine produced using different styles of vinification. Choose between rustic and robust Xinomavro varieties or more modern and easy-drinking options, accompanied by local delicacies such as batzio, a cheese from the dairies of Mt Vermion.

If you’d like to combine wine tasting with some more physically demanding pursuits, the outdoor activities company Trigiro organizes hiking or cycling excursions, including one-day (a cycling tour and a visit to 2 wineries), three-day and custom-made trips. In the center of Naoussa, behind Karatasos Square on a street that features superb neoclassical buildings dating to the early 1900s, stands the boutique hotel Palea Poli. In its courtyard, you can taste 32 PDO labels selected from every winery in the region, paired with fine food. The right combination is key, because when Xinomavro finds its perfect food match, it’s as though it were blossoming in your wine glass.

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