As the birthplace of Dionysus, it’s no wonder that Ikaria’s wines have been famous since antiquity. The god of revelry is said to have been born in a cave near Drakano, and the island’s strong red wine known as Pramneios wine, was particularly connected with ceremonies devoted to his worship. Dark red in colour, it’s a naturally strong wine, reaching upwards of 16% alcohol content, something that occurs in few other places outside of Ikaria. Its beneficial qualities are cited numerously in mythology and Homer mentions a cocktail known as “kykeon” which was derived from Pramneios wine, barley flour and local cheese. It was given to warrior to both strengthen and heal them during battle.
Today, the closest version to Pramneios wine is a variety known as Fokiano. With a history reaching back as far as 150 A.D., this wine is made from large, red grapes, conical in size and lacking a bitter texture. The grapes are cultivated in rounded terraces within soil containing high amounts of limestone and slate. Their resistance to drought played a large role in the variety’s ability to survive throughout millennia. The grapes ripen from May to September.
Aside from Fokiano, Ikaria produces several other grape varieties, such as Begleri, Athiri, Asyrtiko, Baftra and Mandilaria. Red, white and rose types can be found ranging from dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet. All in all, the island produces twelve local wines, some which are organic and all of which you can sample throughout the four wineries, where visitors can learn the secrets of this age old tradition on Ikaria.