Santorini winemakers set off Spring Fever in NYC this past April as they presented the latest vintage from this volcanic paradise at a series of events for the media, trade, and consumers, highlighting the first annual “Taste Santorini Week.”

The week kicked off with a series of winemaker in-store tastings at Astor Wine Center, Gotham Wines & Liquors and Maslow 6. Consumers finally got the chance to get up close and personal with Santorini’s finest as winemakers from throughout the island presented their vin de terroir paired with light seasonal fare. The celebrations continued with a late night sommelier party at Salvation Taco, Chef April Bloomfeld’s popular Mexican restaurant that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these wines can go with any cuisine. The place was packed as winemakers pulled out older vintages, some going back 20 years, and impressing everyone with the aging potential of the extraordinary Assyrtiko variety, fast becoming a darling of local somms. A highlight of the event was an unusually competitive Ping Pong Tournament, held between the winemakers and trade for the chance at a 5-night luxury hotel stay in Santorini. Ronald Hsu, a sous chef at Le Bernadin, outlasted the field, displaying some lively acrobatic shots and claiming his prize in the wee hours of the morning.

Later in the week, top members of the media and trade joined the producers at Molyvos, as celebrated Greek restaurateur, George Hadziyiannakis of Selene restaurant in Santorini, brought his chef, Nikos Boukis, to work with Chef Jim Botsakos and create an island tasting experience using products grown on the volcano. It was a fitting celebration, highlighting Santorini’s Year of Gastronomy 2013.  Before everyone sat down for lunch, the winemakers treated their guests to a walk-around tasting of new and older vintages including some very old Vinsanto. Markos Kafouros, President of SantoWines the island’s Union of Cooperatives, welcomed the attendees and shared insights about the special environment that has created a wine culture on the island that dates back over 4000 years. The event left everyone juiced about the future of these wines in the American marketplace.

The week finished up with a sold-out wine and cheese seminar at Murray’s Cheese in the East Village and dinner at the James Beard House featuring the fare of Chef Nicolas Hilton of Amali Restaurant. The following week, media and trade from across North America tuned in for a live #winechat on Twitter with winemakers Yiannis Paraskevopolous of Gaia and Yannis Voyatzis of Boutari to get an in depth look into what makes the wines of Santorini so distinctive and what is in store for the future!

Note: In town for the Taste Santorini Week activities included, Stefanos Giorgas of Argyros, Christina Boutari of Boutari Wines, winemaker Yiannis Paraskevopoulos of Gaia, winemaker George Gavalas, winemaker Haridimos Hadzidakis, Agape and Spyros Roussos of Canava Roussos, winemaker George Koutsoyiannopoulos, President Markos Kafouros, GM Mattheos Dimopoulos and Stela Kasiola, all of SantoWines, and winemaker Paris Sigalas.

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