Right off the back of our gushing introduction to Henry of Pelham, there’s another bunch of Rascals you’ve just GOT to meet.

“Oh let me guess”, you scoff, “another sustainable, small-parcel, family vineyard, eh, Wine Rascals?”

Well, yes, but that’s not all that makes this bunch so pinch-their-cheeks adorable. Their love of their craft, their country and the planet in general is truly touching. Such passion for the environment and the natural ecosystem led Kamara winery to make exclusively natural, or ‘raw’ wines, despite making a much smaller yield as a result.

“Natural wine!?” We hear the cynics splutter. “Tis no more than a mere fad! A blight on the wine world… a scam

Well, we can definitely say that we haven’t just stuck these wines on our brochure to tick some kind of trendy tributary. It took us many tastings, many wines and many a dodgy smell until we found something we thought was truly exceptional; the best natural wine we’ve ever tasted.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of how Dimitrios and his daughters were able to concoct such a delicious elixir, we want to give them a proper Rascal welcome. So we asked them a few questions about theirlives and goals as winemakers.

Hi Dimitrios. You are dedicated to using Greek grapes in order to represent your country’s proud history of winemaking, but you also describe them as “remarkable”, “misunderstood” and “promising” for the wine world. Can you expand on this?

“Remarkable: The Greek varieties, especially Xinomavro, which is the “king” of Greek varieties for me, give remarkable results. It is astonishing! For example Xinomavro gives so different flavours and aromas when you vinify it as rosé or red or blanc de noir! In the red “version” it gives more tomato and olive aromas. As a rosé, the aromas are more like berries and cherries. And finally in a blanc de noir vinification, it gives more botanical aromas, like thyme and rosemary. I think we have a lot of work to do until we fully understand the potentials of each variety.

 Misunderstood: In the past, most of the viticulturists and winemakers preferred to use international grape varieties, because they considered them to be better than the indigenous (xenomania is unfortunately part of the Greek mentality), something that has proven to be wrong over the years. The Greek varieties have many potentials and they are adjusted to our climate and soil conditions better than any other variety. 

 

Promising: Thanks to the potentials that the Greek varieties have, they are very promising for the future of winemaking in Greece.”

We read that your daughter, Stavroula helps you with the actual winemaking as agronomist-oenologist, as well as painting the labels for your ‘Nimbus’ bottles. This sounds like any father’s dream set up! But how does it all work out in the day to day? Do you have any funny stories or family traditions at Kamara?

“It was spontaneous, we can say. She was angry one day, as usually I can say, it is so typical of her, and she just stopped her job and began to draw the surroundings of our winery. After finishing, she was ready to throw the drawing away, the anger has passed, so, for her, the painting was now useless. During this period of time, we were trying to figure out how the labels of our new natural wines could be. We discussed with many different graphic designers, but nothing met our expectations for something special. This is when I saw my daughter’s paintings a

nd I thought that this is exactly what we were looking for. Fortunately, I understood that before she had the time to throw the paintings away.

As for family traditions, yes, we have a lot. The first is to argue with Stavroula. We have very similar characters and so, you understand, there’s a fight almost every time we try to have a discussion that includes wine. The funny thing is that when we argue, we have the same opinion, but we say it in a different way and that’s why we argue. Thankfully, my wife and my twin boys, Apostolos and Thanasis, are calmer and they save the conversation.

 

There are many stories like these, but if I had to tell them all, a book of 100 pages would certainly not be enough.”

We read that, as well as a low-intervention method, you also also incorporate bio-dynamic practice into your winemaking. What made you decide to do so?

To answer that question, let me explain a bit more explicitly our philosophy.  Our vision is to have a vineyard based on permaculture. To achieve this, first we have to pass through the biodynamics, which heals the earth, and then we can go on with permaculture; for us, biodynamics are just a transitional level between organic farming and permaculture. That’s why we began to apply it. As for the winemaking, we will continue to follow the biodynamic rules. 

 

The first time that I heard about natural wine was from my grandfather. He was winemaker in Ortaki, a region that belongs in Bulgaria now, before his territory was invaded by the Bulgarians and he, among with the other Greeks of the region, was forced to move away from his land. After that, he could not afford to make a winery in Greece too, but he produced his own wine in small quantities just for his family, for old time’s sake. He used to bottle the wines and do the vintage and all the other winemaking procedures in compliance with the celestial rhythms. So these are the images and the experiences that I had as a child, which formed my mentality regarding winemaking as an adult.”

 

When I finally decided to build my own winery, I took an opinion of a very famous oenologist here, who told me that biodynamics would not work in a big scale production. Even though I took his advice and I did not use biodynamic rules in a large scale for our commercial wines, I continued to follow them for making experimental wines. In 2015, after a lot of blind tastings of our more “conventional”(they are organic of course) wines and of our experimental biodynamic wines, we decided that we will take the risk and we will do a bigger quantity of biodynamic wine.

It was the dream of my grandfather to build again a winery and making the great wine that he always did. I am very pleased that I could finally fulfill his dream!”

…We did say they were lovable. Look out in the coming days as we find out more of the method behind the Kamara family’s extraordinary natural wine.