A fascinating experience in the world of viticulture and wine-making

In November we visited the wine roads of Nemea. Nemea is home to one of Greece’s most important red grapes varieties with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) certification, perpetuating a 2,500 year old tradition, the Agiorgitiko variety.

We visited one of the wineries of Nemea located at an altitude of 600 m on the slopes of the hilly Koutsi region, an area blessed with bountiful vineyards perched on hillslopes amidst age-old cypress trees and olive groves.

At the entrance of the winery, the unobstructed view of the hills of all 4 neighboring regional areas Argolis, ArcadiaCorinthia  and Laconia, makes for a great feast for the eyes.

We were welcomed by Margarita, oenologist and wine tourism coordinator of the Estate, who gave us a tour around the facilities and explained how the whole production process, from cultivation, pressing, barreling and then on to bottling, relies on the force of gravity. Margarita explained that the sequencing of the production process is in harmony with the hillslope landscape of the facilities, and ensures that the grapes are treated gently and with great care.

After the tour, we enjoyed a unique tasting experience of some of Greece’s very own indigenous grape varieties including Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero, Roditis and Malagousia.

Away from any temptations and distractions, I fully dedicated myself to the service of the 4 nuns that live in the monastery.

Learning how to discipline myself to the service of others, but most importantly how to discipline myself for my own wellbeing and happiness, this personal pursuit gave me so much food for thought…What’s more was the realization that how one thinks determines how he/she feels, and how he/she feels determines how he/she acts… With our minds constantly exposed to so many influences, we eventually shape our decisions in life as per the directions and influences of others…

During my stay I learned a lot about the daily lives of the nuns. Most importantly, I observed how they practice their vows daily to follow not only the commandments of the church, but also of their counsels (elders) (meaning their vows of poverty, chastity, stability(?), and obedience). Aside from the daily cycle of church services and their spiritual obligations, the nuns are responsible for the general upkeep of the monastery and the tending to their small organic garden with olive trees, fruit trees and herbs. Being an active person and someone who enjoys spending time outdoors and particularly in nature, I greatly enjoyed getting involved in these activities including the gathering, cleaning, drying and further processing of wild fresh mint, thyme, oregano and chamomile. I also greatly enjoyed the conversations I had with 2 of the nuns who shared with me many interesting stories of their past, the influences and challenges they faced in taking the decision to follow this path, as well as the daily contributions that the monastery makes to the lives of the surrounding communities.

I find it consoling and comforting to know that there is a welcoming place like the Monastery of St Paul where one can get away from the daily hectic routing of life. A place where one can combine contributing to a community with the search for inner tranquility.

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