In the beginning was the land: Rira, a region that has been called that for a long long time, above Neratzies and higher still above the traditional seaside villages of Longos and Selianitiki.
In 2007 a native of Aigio named Panayotis Tsitsas, who had been living in Germany, decided to return to his birthplace and planted a vineyard of 25,000 hectares. The result today is one of the country’s most beautiful unified vineyards and a new dynamic winery bearing the name Rira.
Leaving the winery, which lies in the plain of Seliniatika, we took a short – ten minute – but ornery route and climbed with a 4×4 to the top of a 400 m high hill. There we were rewarded by a unique spectacle. A 360-degree view revealed the greater part of the gorgeous Aigialeia wine-growing zone.
The Rira vineyard is situated in the larger estate belonging to the company with a total area of 120,000 hectares. We skirted it and the most interesting part of the tour was the ridgeline where two vineyards could be seen. They contain 120,000 vines of 15 different varieties planted in rows, painstakingly cultivated.
We arrived at the highest point on the hill, where a small, old stone storehouse had been converted into the owner’s ‘eagle’s nest’ (as he calls it). There he likes to welcome friends and visitors to the estate. To say the view is breath taking is an understatement. From two plate-glass windows you can see both the Gulf of Corinth to the north and the mountains to the south.
“In 1990 we finished buying all the farms in this region”, Panagiotis Tsitsas told us. ‘”Then in 2007 we planted and in 2010 we had our first wines. Our goal is, through the creation of single-grape wines and blends, to make the most of the inexhaustible potential of the Greek vineyard. The varieties we use are the native Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, Agiorgitiko, and Mavrodaphne, and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viogner, Gewurtztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Grenache rouge and Grenache blanc. Our wines already take part in international competitions and receive awards”.