Zakynthos Winemaker

The People Who Make Zakynthos

Antonis Maroudas is a winemaker from Zakynthos, in the Ionian islands, and he features in a new campaign promoting the island through 'The People who make Zakynthos'.

The campaign is promoted by the travel insurance company, Insure and Go, and is a creative way of telling the story of Zakynthos through some of the amazing people who live there.

The people include Kostandinos Drogittis, who's a diving instructor with Eurodivers; Sylvan Benaksas, project leader at the Archelon Turtle Conservation Trust; and Hanne Mi S. Sauge who owns the Ceramic Art Studio.

Greece Travel Secrets, though, wants to concentrate on the winemaker, Antonis Maroudas.

We've been given the transcript of the interview that Antonis did with the film-makers, which is full of fascinating material about Antonis and his business, not all of which made it into the film. 

So what's the name of the business?

There are different ways that people pronounce the name of the business, Ampelostratis or Ampelostrates – there are always arguments about that with my wife or other friends but at the end it’s where you want to give more emphasis. Ampelo(stratis) – places emphasis on the road and (Ampelos)trates – gives more emphasis on the vines. This word has a compound meaning, It combines the vines, which is our great passion, with the streets and paths we’re crossing with the horses to get to the vineyards.

How long have you had a farm? Is it a family business?

We are running the farm, including the restaurant and other businesses we have for about nine years but the farm itself exists for many years, probably from the era of my father and grandfather.

Can you tell us a bit more about the traditional farming in the island?

The income of the people here in the island was mainly based on agriculture and not so much from the tourism, as it does today, and that’s because the climate, the temperature and the nature benefit these types of agricultural activities. It is a blessed island and the amazing weather benefits especially the production of olives and olive oil. The olives here are amazing, the raisins, the vines and in the more mountainous areas people used to keep livestock and work on the wheat production.

But after the war of 1940-50 many people left the island so the agricultural business started to flourish again after the 1960s and you can now see many young people working in this sector and be successful.

You give tours of your farm. Why did you decide to give tourists a taste of traditional farming?

First of all, this is our passion and it’s what our family was working on for years. Secondly, if you have some many wines, what do you do with them? You can’t really drink them all on your own, you’ll have to make them available for others.

Aside from that, this type of work gives me a great pleasure since I get closer with other people and I get great pleasure when I make them feel happy and content. Our philosophy is to make people feel happy based on a truthful, authentic experience. Whatever we have available in our restaurant, it is growing straight from our garden: the tomatoes, the raisins, the olive oil – everything.

This is how we dispense our products and make ourselves happy – at least I’m happy, the rest might not be!

What makes Zakynthian products different from others?

The climate, the geomorphy of the island and the soil are the main factors that benefit the production of these products. More specifically, the high sunlight in conjunction with the high amount of rain (the highest in Greece). It produces excellent products and it’s also worth mentioning that it has one of the greatest flora in the Mediterranean – the biodiversity is also very wide, especially in wild plants and herbs – mainly Crete and Zakynthos have this type of diversity.

Tell us about your wine, how do you make it, how does it taste?

Zakynthos as we mentioned previously has amazing vineyard products similar to the rest of Greece and in Zante we have recorded from the ancient time around 40-50 local raisin varieties. My father and grandfather, but mainly myself and my children, we looked for most of these varieties in Zakynthos and we have the philosophy to revive and use the vineyard in the best possible way and also get rid of the industrial wine that has intruded our lives.

The wine business is a fantastic working activity and it takes so many different forms – nobody can’t really say that makes the best wine ever because it has a myriad parameters that play role in its production. For example, if you try wine from three different vineyards the wine won’t taste the same – imagine when wine comes from 50 different vineyards due to different environmental conditions and temperatures it will always taste different.

We work hard to produce a good result and we make it happen. In general the new generation experiments a lot and produces very good quality wine. Often times you hear people complain, especially those who lack knowledge that a tsipouro is made out of arbutus, sour cherries or damson fruits. Yes, this usually is how people produce it in North Europe because they don’t have good raw materials.

When you have this incredible raw material, the grape, which gets 13 in the Baume scale and then distil it and get out all the aromas, then there is no reason why you would use arbutus or sour cherries. Based on this process the wine and tsipouro has the best taste and quality. Nature equips you with the best variety of grapes, but you should also be competent enough to carry it out.

"I love the good wine and food but this alone doesn’t make you happy if you don’t have someone to share it with."

How do you work with your family business and what else do you do here?

The people who work in that business is my family and mainly my wife, who is also a painter and at the same time she is an artist when it comes to cooking. We are working with local products from the island and whatever we cannot produce we buy from other businesses that to our knowledge also sell top quality products. Whenever I get spare time from my business, I like to do various things. I like writing. I also like fishing, and I usually go with my children, and when I have good company I also like to drink wine!

To close, I really want to emphasize that I like the good company and people who have good intentions for a fruitful dialogue, I don’t really mind if they have strong arguments as soon as we both listen to each other’s point of view. I love the good wine and food but this alone doesn’t make you happy if you don’t have someone to share it with.

To find out more about visiting Antonis's farm see:

http://live-zakynthos.com/activity/ampelostrates-farm

https://ecozante.com/ampelostrates

Or phone Antonis on +30 269 504 3718

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