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Greek fires threaten wine regions

The forest fires raging throughout southern Greece are worrying winemakers already experiencing a difficult year with record high temperatures and early harvest dates.

In July, forest fires destroyed the Tetramythos winery on the northern shores of the Peloponnese.

There is concern that the fires, which are currently raging in multiple locations throughout southern Greece and have killed over 60 people, could threaten several vineyards.

Important appellations like Nemea have so far experienced small scale fires on the fringes of the region.

‘We were saved thanks to the last minute change in direction of the wind,’ said Nemean winemaker Kostas Mitravela.

Vassilis Kanelakopoulos at Ktima Mercouri in Helia, the hardest hit region in the western Peloponnese, said that although being only 15 minutes from the fires raging near Ancient Olympia, the winery was in ‘no immediate danger’.

To the north-east of Helia entire villages have been wiped out.

According to Konstantinos Lazarakis MW in Athens, although no major estates or appellations have been affected, wines could be tainted by the smoke.

‘We will have to wait and see if we get something like the smoke taint we saw in many Australian wines in 2003,’ said Lazarakis. ‘Several critics reported that smoke taint in some southern Australian wines from the 2003 vintage was supposedly due to the fires there that year.’

Producer Angelos Iatrides of Alpha Estate, in northern Greece, said that the region was in ‘no present danger’.

Latest reports indicate that 64 people have been killed by the fires, which many observers believe have been started deliberately.

Written by Nico Manessis and David Furer

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