Fresh, non-pasteurized beer entered recently on the list of the local products of the island – a lager and a red ale. Led by a young trio of Kefalonian entrepreneurs the Kefalonian and Ithaka micro brewery uses 100% Greek malted barley and Kefalonian water well known for its high quality.
The discontinuities in the mountain ranges, the diversity of the micro-climates, regulated by the sea, and numerous notable varietals all combine Kefalonia with ideal condition for growing grapes. Around one third of the vineyards on the island grows in the lowlands while the other two third lie in mid to high altitude regions. With a total of 11.900 stremma, ( a bit more than one hectare of land), currently under cultivation, vineyards can be found throughout the island. However, the most significant vineyard areas on Kefalonia are the Omala Valley in the center of the island, which contains the Robola appellation zone, and the Paliki peninsula and the southern part of the island.
About the 90% of grapes grown on the island are winemaking varietals, while the remaining 20% are currant grapes grown mainly on the southern tip of the Paliki peninsula. About the 90% of the grapes are white varietals, nevertheless, the tiny quantities of red grapes have generated an increasing amount of interest as a result of their superior quality. The annual production of grapes in Kefalonia and Ithaka totals about 2,700 tonnes. Of these about one third is vinified by commercial wineries, the remainder is made into village wine for private consumption or for sale as bulk wine to local taverns.
The climate, the terrior, the varietals, the methods of cultivation and the winemaking techniques all contribute to the creation of wines representative of the unique character of this island and in fact Kefalonia is the only Ionian island to have been granted Appellation of Origin for its wines, in particular for Robola of Cephalonia, Muscat of Cephalonia and Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia.
- Robola of Cephalonia is a fresh white wine that should be drunk young, within two years of harvest. Symbol of the Island is considered by many to be one of the finest white varietals of Greece. Its bouquet is in that of citrus blossom, peaches, citron and apple. Exported throughout the world results to be the major eponymous export product of Kefalonia. It pairs perfectly with seafood, white meat dishes and mild yellow cheese.
- Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia is a dry red wine with ripe cherry and wild berry flavours that can also be vinified as a sweet dessert wine; it pairs exceptionally well with kreatópita (the traditional Kefalonian meat pie).
- Muscat of Cephalonia, sweet white wine that is vinified by sun dried grapes, delicious with the local puddings.
- Vostilidi, a white wine characterized by a bouquet of dried fruit, goes well with full flavored dishes such as skordalia (potatoes and garlic dip) which is traditionally served with fried cod fritters. Zakynthino, a robust white wine with a bouquet of fruits and flowers, fresh acidity and a long citrus aftertaste, is excellent with seafood and white meats in light sauces.
- Tsaoussi, an aromatic white wine, with melon and honey flavours, pleasant when drunk on its own as an aperitif or with omelets, chicken in a white sauce and mild yellow cheese.
- Moschatella, a light-bodied delicately aromatic white wine, vinified from a table grape dried in the same way as currants, it matches especially with grilled fresh fish.
Typically, a large variety of indigenous grapes are grown in the vineyards. Some of these have become quite rare and may disappear altogether. To prevent this, the Wine Grower’s Association of Kefalonia, in collaboration with the National Foundation of Agricultural Research – Institute for Plant Conservation in Vólos, has set up an experimental vineyard at the Valliános Agricultural School in Argostóli, in order to preserve these varietals for the future. So far, 43 varieties has been collected for cataloging. The mild climate and the traditionally non-invasive cultivation methods have given rise, in recent years, to an interest in organic grape growing and there is currently a group of grape growers who are farming organically.
Tsípouro is an other characteristic product of the island, a strong distilled spirit produced from the pomace, the residue of the wine press. Tsípouro production begins in mid august after the grapes have been pressed and finishes at the end of October. It is possible to find different kinds of Tsípouro depending from the varietals used and from the aging.
Rosolia are liqueurs from various flavours such as rose, sour almonds, sage, myrtle, lemon, orange, sour orange, mandarin, strawberry or pear. They are mostly produced at home and it is more and more rare to find them for sale. But you never know, if you find yourself in a small traditional taverna just ask and they might surprise you!