The Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard was set up in 1993 by the name Wine Producers Association of the Macedonian Vineyard as a not-for-profit non-stock corporation by the joint efforts of the 15 visionary members of the Association. The Association's aim was to support the vine-growing and wine-making tradition and give the opportunity to Greek and foreign visitors to discover the hospitality of the vineyards of Northern Greece.
In 2002, wineries in Epirus and Thrace joined the Association, which was renamed the Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyardβ€™ with the trade name Wine Roads of Northern Greece.
Today, the 27 wineries that have joined forces within the association, have directed part of their corporate activity towards a set of common objectives. These are:
- Building up the image of the wines of the Northern Greece Vineyard and promoting them in Greece and abroad. This is a very worthwhile initiative, since on the one hand the Greeks are still generally very poorly informed about wine and continue to perpetuate a host of myths about it (e.g., bulk wine is traditional, home-made wine is healthy, etc.), and on the other there has never been any organised action or state support for the effective promotion of Greek wine, in Greece and abroad.
- Offering visitors an all-round wine tourism proposal around the vineyards and the beautiful landscapes of Northern Greece.
- Supporting cultural heritage in Greece, focusing primarily on grape growing and wine and on local cultural activities.
- Participating in the formulation of general rules governing the relations between growers, wine-makers and wine merchants, with a view to optimising co-operation, serving consumers and improving the quality of both products and services.
Local authorities, cultural organisations, local enterprises and other associations are actively involved and take part in activities related to the above objectives. These activities might include signposting, creating folklore museums focused on the Greek vine tradition, wine and local gastronomy, publishing books and organising cultural events. All, of course, in conjunction with local history, local festivals, local customs and traditions.
In particular, the Wine Producers Association undertakes the following projects and activities:
- Marking and signposting wine tourist trails through the Vineyards of Northern Greece, indicating all points of oenological, cultural and tourist interest, such as vineyards, wineries, archaeological and historical sites, spots of natural beauty and recommending traditional hotels, restaurants, local products and outdoor activities on each wine route.
- Educating people in wine-related occupations, such as restaurant owners, hotelkeepers, waiters, special guides, etc.
- Participating in international societies and organisations with similar or related objectives. The development of this type of tourism co-operation reinforces the positive results and further activities of the regional economy.
- Organising gastronomic and cultural events and conferences, aimed at familiarising Greek and foreign visitors with our rich wine and gastronomic tradition and the cultural elements associated with it, through selected dining venues, interdisciplinary meetings and cultural activities. The established wine tasting event 'VorOina' takes place in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities annually and it is an excellent opportunity for professionals and the general public to get to know the Association producers' newest wines.
- Participating in international trade fairs in Greece and abroad.
- Organising an annual Thessaloniki International Wine and Spirits Competition (www.tiwc.gr), unique in Greece, aiming at presenting and promoting the international quality wine production to professionals and the general public.
The WINE ROADS OF NORTHERN GREECE (www.wineroads.gr), the basic activity of the Association, is a tourism programme quite unlike anything else in the country and an innovative way for any visitor, Greek or foreign, to discover wineries open to visitors and explore the lush vine-growing areas of this part of Greece, in conjunction with a host of local cultural activities.
In 1997, the Wine Roads were integrated into the official programme of the Cultural Capital of Europe Organisation, under the title Wine Roads & Gastronomy.
In 2008 the network of the Wine Roads of Northern Greece grew to include selected hotels, restaurants, local produce and outdoor activities businesses, in order to collectively create a framework for the support of the Greek cultural and gastronomic tradition.
With a host of informative and entertaining events, the Wine Roads of Northern Greece continue to play a leading role in support of wine, a key element in the Greek cultural identity and offer visitors to the Northern Greek vineyard a total of 8 different routes, leading from Mount Olympus, home of the gods, and Zitsa in Epirus to Byzantine Thessaloniki and from Amyntaio in the north to the Aegean playground of Halkidiki, the Dionysiac heartland of Mount Pangaio and delightful, distant Thrace.
The 8 Wine Routes of the Wine Roads of Northern Greece:
- The Wine Route of the Olympian Gods
- The Wine Route of Epirus
- The Wine Route of the Lakes
- The Wine Route of Naoussa
- The Wine Route of Pella β€“ Goumenissa
- The Wine Route of Thessaloniki
- The Wine Route of Halkidiki
- The Wine Route of Dionysus