Just a leisurely drive over the hills of the historic town of Corfu lies one of the island’s most captivating wineries, complete with a divine local restaurant, gastronomy shop, verdant landscapes and a healthy dose of Ionian culture.
A must for every visitor to Corfu, Ambelonas (which means vineyard in Greek) will enchant you with its homemade wine and Corfiot cuisine. To begin with, the wine has been produced for 4 centuries by the family in a traditional manner and aged in oak barrels. It remains free of any additives or preservatives and exploits local grown grapes (Skopelitiko and Kakotrigis), which add a robust body enriched by Corfu’s rainy winters and sunny summers.
Fine food for wonderful wine
Every good wine needs an excellent meal, and Ambelonas will certainly not disappoint in this respect. Local fruits and vegetables in season mix with free-range poultry and meat, delicious cheeses from the island, herbs from nearby hills and extra virgin olive oil. By popular demand, Ambelonas’ owner and manager, Mrs. Vasiliki Karounou, published an impressive cookbook based on traditional local recipes that bring back the cooking secrets and flavors of previous generations on the island.
Surrounding all this love for gastronomic excellence is Ambelonas’ pledge to respect the environment by cultivating local produce, using local products and recycling waste. Preservation of tradition and environment can also be seen through the museum-like exhibition on the premises which showcases traditional equipment and machinery once used to produce olive oil and wine. An engaging video presentation unravels these old traditions and takes you back to a time when everything was – and will always remain – natural in this little corner of Corfu.
A myriad of activities around the estate
Drop by the little shop on the premises to take a piece of Corfu back home with you or to enjoy local products while you’re still there. You’ll love the Acordo range of products, whose name still boasts Corfu’s flirtatious past with nearby Italy.
What completes the experience at Ambelonas are the variety of activities, workshops and events, from folklore dances and cooking workshops to creative activities for children. If you like cooking you’ll love the traditional hands-on cooking class and authentic dishes.
Lastly, highly recommended is a private educational tour outlining our estate’s history, traditional practices that highlights wild local flora, the island’s products and rich culinary culture. This is one place you should definitely put on your map when you go to Corfu.
We’re very happy to see that more businesses related to local gastronomy are becoming green, and Ambelonas Corfu is leading the pack in many ways. As mentioned before, owner Vasiliki Karounou has done a great service to keeping culinary traditions alive by publishing an exceptional 170-page cookbook titled “Corfiot Cuisine – in search of the origins” (available in English, German and Greek).
This makes Vasiliki and Ambelonas true pioneers in Corfiot cuisine. On the oenological front, the property serves wine that is locally produced by the family, so there’s no carbon footprint in transportation! The grapes are grown onsite using traditional grape varieties from Corfu, namely Kakotrigis and Skopelitiko.
In its culinary offerings, Ambelonas uses local Corfiot products as much as possible, and then regional or Greek as second priority, whether it’s fruits and vegetables or cheese and poultry. As much as 95% of products used are local, Greek, organic, or of protected origin (PDO), with strong focus on local suppliers. Needless to say: canned goods, preservatives and hydrogenated products are off the menu!
There is a preference for dishes that have a lower environmental footprint, which means favoring more vegetarian and vegan options, while replacing red meat with more fish and poultry or a bit of pork. Animal products are always free range or come from farms that treat animals humanely. Slow cooking (sometimes even overnight) on a natural gas flame or using energy-efficient means, a myriad of local herbs, the freshest of ingredients and extra virgin olive oil all weave their way through the menu, which by the way offers gluten-free options as well. Also noteworthy is the use of filtered tap water everywhere and not bottled water.
The property’s food boutique sells the best local brands and products, so a visit there will definitely support local producers and communities. Ambelonas Corfu has pledged to use recycled and biodegradable products wherever possible, in addition to separating waste for recycling and minimizing food waste (including composting or for animal feed). Old equipment and appliances are also recycled!
Importantly, the property’s staff hails from Corfu or the greater region, in what is yet another effort to support the local economy. Lastly, we loved that visitors benefit from information about the region’s biodiversity and on how to protect rare species. Ambelonas Corfu is truly a pioneer on the island in all pillars of sustainability and deserves to be recognized as such.
Check Ambelona’s Gastronomy Tours here: