Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Wine Roads of Northern Greece: An 8-Day Culinary Journey

Greek Food Guru Diane Kochilas and Greek Food Blogger Peter Minakis (a.k.a. Kalofagas) invite you to join them on an unforgettable culinary and cultural journey through the undiscovered wine country of Northern Greece this September 19 – 27, 2011.
You will visit Greece’s most renowned vineyards, meet her most accomplished wine makers and live the experience of the grape harvest, visit bustling markets, dine on a vast range of Northern Greek specialties from hand-made phyllo pies to a rainbow of meze plates to haute molecular cuisine, game, seafood, fabulous desserts and more. And, of course, you will sip some of the most delicious, and undiscovered, wines and spirits in the world.
Thessaloniki, sometimes called the Sweet Mother because of its tradition in pastry and confection, will be our base. We will stay in one of the city’s top hotels. Our culinary journey will include:
·                 A visit to Naoussa or Amyntaion, complete with wine-maker feasts, tastings, and several unforgettable meals by some of Greece’s top regional chefs
·                 Visits to the Babatzim organic winery and distillery where we will meet the owner, Anestis Babatzimopoulos, a modern-day Zorba the Greek
·                 Visit to Epanomi and the Gerovasiliou Estate, home of countless award-winning wines and one of the largest wine museums in Europe
·                 Hands-on and demo cooking classes with Diane, Peter, and local cooks, where we will learn the art of phyllo, of preparing meze, of fish and seafood cookery, of making healthy, delicious pastries, and more
·                 Day trip to a unique nature preserve and/or to a unique game farm.
·                 Tour of the Modiano, Thessaloniki’s most famous market, with samplings of local specialties at every stop
·                 A tour of the stunning archeological site of Pella and Vergina, Alexander the Great’s birthplace.
·                 Walking tour of Thessaloniki, which has been a vibrant city for more than two millennia, where we will visit ancient, Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman and Jewish landmarks.
·                 Excursion to Xanthi, one of the most picturesque cities in Greece.
·                 Excursion to Siatista, a gorgeous old fur trading town, where some of the rarest Greek wines are made, OR alternatively (TBA) to a nature preserve and/or agrotourism venue
·                 Visits with local food artisans and producers, farmers, distillers, bakers, confectioners and more.

Sample Program
(Subject to adjustments)

Day 1
Arrive Thessaloniki
Settle into Daios or Electra Hotel, near Aristotelous Square
Welcome dinner (TBA)

Day 2
Walking tour: Layers History on the Streets of Salonika (Ancient, Roman, Byzantine, Jewish, etc.) 3 hour walking tour of the city with an excellent guide.
Noon lunch TBA  Theme: Intro to the Flavours of Northern Greece
Afternoon free. Or optional visit to a local cheese maker in Soho.
Later afternoon: Depart for Babaztim. Meze class  (Demo and partly hands-on); ouzo/tsipouro tasting. Visit distillery and meet (and maybe even dance!) with the modern Greek Zorba...

Day 3
Morning: Intro to the Cornucopia of Northern Greece: a tour of the Modiano Market.
Meze lunch at Modiano.
Afternoon free to roam.
Wine tasting dinner: An intro to the Great Wines of Macedonia and Thrace with local wine expert / sommelier  We’ll learn about the most important local grape varieties and their unique range of flavors.

Day 4
Early morning departure for Vergina/Pella with guided tour of site.
Visit to nearby winery for a vineyard lunch and cooking lesson: Theme: Products of the Vine, from Antiquity to the Present in the Greek Kitchen   
Tasting of Macedonian artisanal cheeses.
Back to Thessaloniki and sleep!

Day 5
Depart early morning for Naoussa, the heart of northern Greek wine country. Witness the harvest.  Tasting of the best Naoussa reds, roses, and blanc de blancs. Focused tasting of local cheeses, paired with wines. Lunch and cooking class of local specialties.  Theme: Harvest Foods from the Vineyard Country
 Later afternoon return to Thessaloniki.
Evening free to roam. Restaurant list provided.

Day 6
Early morning departure for Xanthi, one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. Wander and explore. Visit local artisan producers of tahini and other local specialties. Lunch and cooking demo in local homes or taverna TBA.
Return late afternoon to Thessaloniki.
Evening dinner in Thessaloniki.

Day 7
Day trip to Siatista, a gorgeous 19th century fur trading town that has some of the most unique vineyards and foods. Return early evening to Thessaloniki.  OR (TBA) Visit to nature preserve and/or game farm and agrotourism venue.
Evening free.

Day 8
Phyllo, Savory Pies and More!
Early morning visit to Halkidiki, for a hands-on cooking class with one of the best-known local cooks and food artisans. Optional swimming, weather permitting.
Early afternoon return and day free.
Sunset farewell dinner at fabulous Gerovasiliou Estate in nearby Epanomi. Visit the wine museum and enjoy a feast of local specialties and some of the finest wines in Greece.

Day 9 Depart for home.

Cost: $3,750


  1. Wow this sounds like a very interesting trip.

  2. It sounds like a fun filled week.

  3. The all time Classic Greek dish that I really love cooking
    Yours look awesome.
    Thanks for your visit.
    Have a great weekend ♥

  4. Hi,
    This is a great idea! Well done!
    My parents are from Ossa & Halkithiki and I myself run Melbourne's only Greek Cooking School, The Sweet Greek.
    I will be in Nrthrn Greece during 13 Aug-8 Sept 2011 and would love to join SOME of the activities, eg Macedonian & Soho artisinal cheeses, cooking class in Halkithiki.
    Please contact me @ if this is a possibility, as I, additionally, will have my own foodie trail & other food related business commitments during this time.
    Looking fwd to discussing this possibility.
    Kind Regards,

  5. I so wish I could do this tour! As a new mother it is nearly an impossibility, but am sure it will be fabulous! I used to work at Milos over 10 years ago when Greek wines started making their mark in the NY market and to see them offered at some of the finest non-Greek restaurants makes me super proud! As a Greek-American of Kastorian descent I am loving this tribute to Northern Greece!

  6. This tour sounds magnificent!!
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  7. Great blog, I love your post!
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    Kisses from Spain ^^