The following post is the first in a series of Greek wine basics. It’s been transcribed from Konstantinos Lazarakis MW’s The Wines of Greece (London, Mitchell Beazley, 2005, currently out of print). While Lazarakis’ book is difficult to find these days, it remains THE number-one resource for information — technical and historical — on the wines of Greece. We highly recommend it.
It is especially difficult to generalize about the climate here. Overall, the area is one of the southernmost parts of Greece, falling between the latitudes of 38.15 and 36.17 degrees — only Crete, Rhodes, and a few other Aegean Islands are further south. The climate can be considered broadly Mediterranean, with mild winters, short springs, hot and dry summers, and prolonged autumns. Nevertheless, the Peloponnese is exposed to all sorts of influences: it is affected by the Meltemia winds of the Aegean, unsheltered from either the cold northern winds or the hote Livas blowing from Africa. Since the rain-bearing clouds travel in an easterly direction, the western part of the district is much more humid than the rest. For example, Pyrgos in Ilia receives an annual average of 920 millimetres of rain (thirty-six inches), Mantinia, in the centre, has 780 millimtres (thirty-one inches), and Nemea, less than fifty kilmetres further east, just 410 millimetres (sixteen inches).
These vast permutations of altitudes, slopes, and exposures, and the presence or absence of the sea’s influence create numerous different mesoclimates. For example, overall Triopoli might receive less rain than Pyrgos, but from June to September, it gets ninety-three millimeters (3.6 inches) while Pyrgos receives about forty per cent less, just fifty-five millimeters (2.2 inches). However, over the same period, the average atmospheric humidity of Tripoli is thirty-five per cent lower than Pyrgos.
The Peloponnese is divided into seven administrative prefectures, six of which are located on the periphery of the region, with Arcadia in the centre. Running clockwise from the north, the prefectures are: Achaia, Corinth, Argolida, Arcadia, Laconia, Messinia, and Ilia.