Once upon a time there was an extraordinary wine that travelled the world on the backs of mules, horse carriages and on Greek merchant vessels, it was called Liastos.
In the 19th century, the inhabitants of the town of Siatista were famous for their extraordinary construction ingenuity and the men would travel in large groups to the capitals of Europe, the Ottoman Empire and Russia to lend their higher skills and craftsmanship to build palaces and monuments to the highest bidders. So the men would leave for months at a time leaving their families behind. Among their tools were oak barrels of their home wine
called Liastos that would often end up as a gift to their aristocratic employers. The wine
found its way to the Austro Hungarian court and was even brought in secretly by the eunuchs of the harem of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. By the 1920s the production of Liastos wine
was sadly completely abandoned, for the ingenious Siatistan had slowly mastered the fur trade. Vineyards were no longer cared for to favour the prolific fur trade Siatista would make Siatista famous for generations. Siatistan families were sent to command the outposts fur stores throughout the globe. Of Liastos remained only the legendary recollections of this wine
from poetry and literature in Turkish, German and Russian scriptures.In 1984, Constantinos Diamantis, the grandson of a furrier, decided to dedicate all his resources to revive the tradition of his ancestors of making Liastos wine
. Revamping the old field of the vineyards of his family was out of question so Diamantis called upon experts to help him plant new vines that were cloned off the stems from abandoned vineyards. It was only after 8 intensive and painstaking years and to the great pride of his family that came the first acceptable grape harvest for a perfect Liastos. The first samples of Liastos wine
were produced according to the exact same production methods described by his ancestors. Prior to the winification process, the handpicked grapes are left to dry on specially designed wooden racks in specially ventilated cellars. During several months the grapes loose two thirds of their weight in fluid. The stone cellars of Siatista houses create an ideal temperature year round for the fermentation process. Even the indigenous mountainous herbs that bring an extraordinary aroma to a Liastos are treated in the same fashion.Constantinos Diamantis passed away never seeing his dream come true however he left his legacy to his son Dimitri that we met in Siatista. He continues the work of his father replicating faithfully each step from handpicking grapes to roaming the mountainous regions in the search of the seasonal wild herbs that will give that extra flavor of the original Liastos. With a warm laughter, he tells us that the only thing that defers from the production method of his ancestors is that he is fortunate enough to have a tractor to plough the fields of his vineyards. All other processes have not changed since the last century. Liastos must remain at the very minimum 4 years in oak barrels and then only can be enjoyed. The wine
can be kept for decades and only gets better.The result is an annual production that varies from 6 thousand to 9 thousand bottles in very high demand of true connaisseurs. It is only in 2008 that they were granted the permission to sell their sweet wine
, another laughter for Dimitri for bureaucracy was the biggest battle, had Siatistans run this country things would have been different! It is a work of passion that he carries out in memory of his father and his dream to revamp a lost cultural tradition.Sadly there are only a handful of Siatistans that live in this lovely village perched on mount Velia in Northern Greece. However there are thousands around the world (most of them successful entrepreneurs like their forefathers) that remain loyal to their village of origin. Siatistans often travel the globe back to their village for the summers to rejoice in each others company and often attempt to marry off their offspring to a fellow Siatistan. Each year on the 15th of August, there is a village tradition of open house where travellers and foreigners are welcome to admire the inner sanctum of the beautiful architecture of the Siatistan houses. In the tradition of Greek filoxenia (welcoming)foreign guests are offered a glass of Liastos wine
in a small silver liquor glass together with some sweets. Perhaps you too may need some Liastos wine
to warm your heart?