Mylopotamos is the biggest dependency of the Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra (Great Lavra). The tower and church with the name of St. Efstathios the Great Martyr were built by St. Athanasios the Athonite before 973 AD. A wise and far-sighted man, St. Athanasios cleared the surrounding area and planted vines and olive trees and built a â€˜vougionarioâ€™ and a â€œlitrouvioâ€ (winery and oil-press) â€“ providing the great monastery with wine for the Holy Table, Communion wine for the Holy Mass and the necessary oil.
Mylopotamos on the Athos-map
All the above information was mentioned in the founderâ€™s hand-written will drawn up in 973 AD, as mentioned above. The Saint also specifically mentioned how and when â€˜the wine and oil must be used for comforting the body that feels strained after exerciseâ€™. Mylopotamos has been producing wine and oil for over a thousand years.
The historic references to the famous and excellent wine of Mylopotamos have been numerous throughout those thousand years. Actually the experts estimate that wine production reached 60 to 80 tons per year. There are still some surviving hoops and staves from the enormous â€˜paravoutesâ€™ (wine presses).
During the past century the monastery experienced glorious times because the Great Patriarch Ioakim lived there as a hermit. From the Second World War onwards everything was abandoned, because the pest of grape phylloxera was transferred to Mount Athos and the rest of Greece from America.
A new effort to restore and revive Mylopotamos started in 1990. The first vines were planted in 1992 following a replanting permission issued by the Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra, the Holy Community of Mount Athos and the Agricultural Administration of the Prefecture of Halkidiki.
Beach near Mylopotamos
Climate conditions at Mount Athos â€“which acts as a magnet for the much-needed rainfallsâ€“ the sea, and the morning summer sun rising out of the sea and shining over the vines, in combination with the care, love and traditional and organic cultivation methods used at Mount Athos, create the necessary conditions for the production of prime grapes. The harvest, wine-making, maturation and bottling processes at our winery in Mylopotamos produce some unique wines.
The monks in Mylopotamos love their vines and wine and this is how they managed to overcome many obstacles. Today there is:
– A 50,000 m2 vineyard producing the varieties of Merlot, Limnio, Cabernet, Muscat of Alexandria and Roditis.
– A modern winery and bottling plant, built in accordance with the traditional architecture of Mount Athos, faithfully observing the traditional Athonite wine-making procedures and operating under the license of the General Chemical State Laboratory.
– Copper stills and receptacles for â€˜tsipouroâ€™ and other distillates.
The effort of the monks at Mylopotamos is unique because they are the first in all Mount Athos who produced and bottled wines that are distributed to the monasteries of Mount Athos, and also the Greek market and abroad.
Next time more about the wines.