The Mercouri Estate is located in the Western Peloponnese on the plateau of the Ichthis Peninsula, near the village of Korakochori or "the place of the crow". It is an old family-owned estate with a 150 year old history in the production of wines, olive oil and currants. The word "currant" is taken from the nearby port of Corinth from where they were shipped.
In 1870 Theodore Mercouri imported cuttings of the Refosco variety from Friuli in Northern Italy and planted the first vineyard. Later on, the wines from the Estate were exported to Europe on small sailing boats that anchored in the tiny bay just in front of the estate to load barrels full of this unique wine and transport them to Trieste. Judging from the remnants of amphorae which still litter the sea-bed here, the wine trade was an active part of this land as long ago as the creation of the myths that inspired Homer to mention the small island that still sits inside the bay.
Gradually, the first vineyard at the estate became famous in the region and as the Refosco grape became more widely cultivated it was known locally as "Mercouri". In the 1930s Leonidas Mercouris built a modern winery, equipped with underground wine tanks on the estate and this remained in operation until 1955. Nearly 35 years later, in 1989, the third and fourth generations of the Mercouri family began a systematic effort to revive the winemaking tradition of this historic property with the production of branded products.
Within this framework, the old winery was totally renovated and modernized and the vineyard area was expanded to cover 23 acres. The Mercouri Estate became a family controlled SA, or Limited Company.
The carefully tended vineyards encircle the winery and the 19th century, Italianate villa which remains the family home. The vines have been planted where the mesoclimate is most suitable for the production of fine quality red wines. In all, there are two basic varieties, the historic Refosco, which is believed to be the same grape as the Mondeuse Noire of Savoie and the Greek Mavrodaphne both recommended varieties for the county of Ilia.
However, apart from these, experimentation continues and about fourteen other varieties both Greek and international have been planted to gauge their suitability with the intention of eventually producing a new range of wines. These include the red Avgoustiatis, Mourvedre, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Grenache and the white Viognier, Tourkopoula, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Aromatica and Sauvignon Blanc.
In addition to Domaine Mercouri and Foloi, a series of experimental vinifications expands the Estate’s profile, the result of the new varieties planted. The native Avgoustiatis and Tourkopoula along with an international selection, including Viognier, Ribolla Gialla, Mourvedre and Grenache, specially chosen for their suitability to the mesoclimate and adaptability to the soil conditions, constitute the base of these exclusive and limited production wines marketed under the brand name Stars and Myths.
In addition, an aged sweet wine named Chortes, produced from semi-sun-dried Mavrodaphne and Korinthiaki (Corinth Currant) grapes, recently made its debut.
Another major arm of the Mercouri Estate’s production activity is that of olive oil. Revered from time to time immemorial, a substantial acreage of the estate is devoted to this precious product of the Mediterranean.
The result is an olive oil of exceptional quality with a unique aroma and flavor. The olive grove is more than a century old and the oil is now part of an organically produced olive oil scheme. It is sold under the brand name of Domaine Mercouri - Extra Virgin Natural Cold - Pressed Olive Oil and is the final product of diligent cultivation, harvesting and extraction procedures and a love of the earth which yields it
Recently, the Mercouri Estate expanded its activities in the tourist sector and now offers package tours to groups of wine lovers and nature enthusiasts.
There are organized visits to the Estate -the winery, vineyards and olive groves- as well as entry to the small agricultural museum with its impressive collection of old agricultural tools and machinery.
The tour includes strolls through the Estate’s woods and the nearby private beach, a chance to get in touch with the natural beauties of the region.
The visit concluded with a chance to taste the Mercouri products beneath the shady clusters of pines, overlooking the romantic Ionian Sea and the island of Zante.