The products coming from this part of Mediterranean sea are thousand years old and are the same used by the populations that have lived in the area since thousands years ago! Myths and legends are accomapy the history of these products as they were and are very important in the forming of the civilisation itself.
Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world dating back some 6,500 years. The geographical anatomy of the country and its climate serve the brewing of some 300 elegant indigenous wine varieties in the best possible way. Many of the grapes grown in modern Greece are grown there exclusively and are similar or identical to varieties grown in ancient times.
Agiorgitiko is one of the two widely grown heat-resistant Greek wine-making grape varieties. It is a red variety that has traditionally been grown in the Nemea region of the Peloponnese. The Agiorgitiko of Nemea is granded as “Apellation of Origin of Highest Quality”. One of the more commercially important indigenous Greek varieties, it can exhibit a wide range of characteristics, from soft to very tannic, depending on factors in the growing and winemaking processes. Agiorgitiko is generally planted in dry, infertile soil to encourage the production of fewer but more concentrated grapes, ripening after mid-September.
Agiorgitiko is colored in myth. There is an ancient legend that the rich, dark, soft and mysterious wines from the region of Nemea, in the Peloponnese, taste that way because the very vines on which the Agiorgitiko grapes grow, were stained by the blood of the lion that Hercules slew, according to Greek Mythology.
Vineyards of Nemea producing Agiorgitiko wine are as old as 100 years, even older. Vineyards should be situated on the valley floor, at as low as 850-1150 ft, as well as throughout valleys and up the hillsides climbing to over 1950-2650 ft, even higher, making these red wine vineyards some of the highest in all of Europe.
Honey’s roots are lost in the far antiquity. Historical evidence proves that honey and beekeeping was a part of daily life of the people in the early stages of civilisation. The amazing fact is that different civilisations throughout the centuries since 6th century B.C. had integrate the honey production in their daily nutrition without having any interaction or transfer of knowledge between them. Historical texts, beekeeping fossils and ancient pottery show that the honey production was existed in the Mediterranean area -first appearance in Valencian pottery at 7,000 B.C, in Greece around 6,000B.C , in ancient Egypt around 3,500B.C.and in Middle east the Sumerians around 3,000B.C. Evidence show that ancient Chinese and Mayans had also had adopted honey in their food culture.
Honey in ancient Greece was everywhere in mythology, religion, science and society. Honey was the “nectar of the Olympian Gods”, used also as a medicine because of its high nutrition value, improving the health condition and its sedative action for the human body. Historical facts prove their anti-aging property this is why was placed in “Great Alexander’s” tomb. Egyptians used it in religious ceremonies and it was also a component in the mummification process used by the Egyptians to preserve their dead. Cleopatra’s famous bath included a honey and milk therapy to improve the skin smooth and healthy. Also, Romans legions used honey to heal their wounds. Hebrews and Chinese had integrated honey use in their religious ceremonies as well.
Today, Greek honey is world renowned for its excellent quality, unique aroma and rich flavour. Greece’s unique climate conditions, soil and flora have contributed in the production of honey of unique flavour and benefited ingredients granted as a Product of Designation of Origin.
Greek honey is produced from different plants such as eucalyptus, pine trees, orange trees, blossoms honey, fir, sage, thyme and heather honey.
Honey in Mediterranean nutrition is served as a breakfast, spread on toasted bread with butter. It is also used as a sweet alternative in modern Greek recipes.
Olive tree sprung in the greater Mediterranean basin around 80,000 years ago according to scientists. Olive trees are spread across the Mediterranean area from South Europe to the Caspian Sea and from Northern Africa to Iran, indicating that this genus is an original element of the Mediterranean flora. Fossilised leaves and trees evident that even before the beginning of civilisation people have known the fruits of olive trees and feed on them. Fossils of the volcanic Greek island of Santorini that were dated about 37,000 show that people collected wild olives.
The first systematic cultivation started in Crete, Greece around 3,500B.C in the early Minoan times.Scientific evidence shows that all the ancient civilisations that flourished in the Mediterranean basin, in Egypt, Israel, Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, systematically cultivated and harvested olive trees, as well.
Olive tree was very important even in these ancient times. Olive was one of the main products to be commercialised within Mediterranean basin. It had distinctive place in the religion, society and science for all the ancient civilisations.
In Greek mythology Goddess Athena won the patronship of the city of Athens from Poseidon by giving him an olive branch as an exchange gift. The ancient Greeks used to smear olive oil on their bodies and hair as a matter of grooming and good health. It is characteristic that when the first Olympic Games took place in Olympia in 776 BC an olive-tree branch was the award to the winners symbolizing the armistice of any hostility and the peace.
Egyptians used the olive branch as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace and used it as a crown after games or wars. Olive branch was also the emblems of benediction and purification, used it for their deity’s and important figures – some of them were found in Tutankhamen's tomb.
In Israel olive oil was used for not only food and cooking, but also for sacrificial offerings and as an ointment for religious reasons.The olive tree is a very drought, disease and fire - resistant plant. It can live to a great age. Throughout the Mediterranean, in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Syria are said to be olive trees groves hundreds of years old, while an age of 2,000 years is claimed for a number of individual trees.
Today, olive trees are cultivated in many regions of the world with Mediterranean climates, such as South Africa, Chile, Peru, Australia, and California and in areas with temperate climates such as New Zealand. The northernmost olive trees cultivation is also in Wales, west coast of the UK.
However, the 99% of the olive and olive oil production is the Mediterranean basin, where different varieties of olive trees grow and give various of splendid fruits and oils granted as products with Appelation of Origin.