Greek Travel after the Pandemic, Part I: Ktima Gerovassiliou Winery and Wine Museum

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected Greek tourism, and what are local tourism providers doing to recover from it? This series of exclusive interviews with specific Greek tourism entities gets to the heart of the key issues, as of mid-summer 2020.

By Chris Deliso

July 22, 2020

This series starts with a virtual visit to Ktima Gerovassiliou Winery and Museum, which I covered in past Lonely Planet guides to Greece. The story below relies on exclusive new comments from Museum Director and Head of Special Events, Magdalene Livadioti.

About Ktima Gerovassiliou Winery and Museum

Set on a sprawling bluff overlooking the sea near the Thessaloniki-area village of Epanomi, Ktima Gerovassiliou is among Greece’s leading medium-sized wineries and a winner of numerous prizes internationally. According to the winery’s website, it’s the care and enthusiasm with which the vineyards are tended that have helped achieve such great results over the years. This has included efforts “to constantly research and experiment with Greek and foreign varieties, both well- and less- known.” Technological advances have also been key to the winery’s success, though its most unique advantage is the provenance of the grapes: the salt-specked microclimate of Epanomi, comprised of richly fertile soil standing high above the Aegean Sea’s northernmost edges.

While tastings and tours are organized oriented around Gerovassiliou’s wines, the facility has another remarkable attraction that makes it worth visiting: an on-site museum, containing a beautiful display of historic wine bottles, ornate corkscrews and other wine-related paraphernalia, like ancient Greek and Byzantine amphora.

The Effects of COVID on Winery Tourism

As everywhere else in Greece, the COVID crisis has affected the ability of Ktima Gerovassiliou to conduct wine tourism- though thankfully, the worst of it seems to be behind them.

According to Livadioti, the pandemic “has affected wine tourism. We have been closed for visits during the lockdown.”

However, she adds, “since the end of May, we are open again full-time with the whole team. Regarding all events, they have been cancelled for now by the government… Now, some events are permitted wits special measures, but we decided to postpone the events in our estate.”

The Winery-Museum Relationship: A Harmonic Balance

While the wine museum makes for an eclectic and engaging part of the general tour experience, Livadioti reminds that as a company, Ktima Gerovassiliou’s “main goal and focus has been production of high quality wines.”

In other words, while the wine museum “helps us to express our philosophy regarding wine and its culture,” she says, it is not a major revenue-gathering part of the company. While visitors in enjoy a guided tour of the winery, museum and vineyards, “basically, the museum supports the winery by adding value and not by earnings,” Livadioti concludes. “Of course, more people taste our wines, so yes, in the long term, visits and events support sales as well.”

Gerovasileiou Family

New Museum Developments and Holdings

Despite the past seven months of pandemic, the already well-stocked museum continues to move from strength to strength. “Regarding the collection, we have some new exhibits,” the museum director tells me. However, she notes, “the most interesting thing is that the Gerovassiliou collection has been expanded with modern art sculptures by well-known, mostly Greek, artists. So we created a park of sculptures around the vineyard. You may have a look at our website.”

After-effects of the Crisis: Upcoming Developments and Winery Events

Due to governmental restrictions and the former lockdown, the museum manager notes that the winery has chosen “to postpone our future events,” such as the typical periodic theatrical or concert presentations.

However, this has not kept Ktima Gerovassiliou from finding other resourceful ways to keep in contact with their clients and potential visitors. “During the lockdown we celebrated online the International Museum Day with an Instagram live with Mr. Yiannis Boutaris,” she reveals. “Depending on the situation in the next months, we are planning on organizing more online events, like live lectures or discussions.”

These plans reveal yet again that, for the accomplished winery, selling wine and showing off the museum are only part of the overall mission. Education about viticulture, agriculture, and the history of winemaking in Greece are close to the hearts of Ktima Gerovassiliou’s owners and employees. Their efforts to reach out digitally during these most unprecedented and challenging times for tourism and travel in general indicate their dedication to the craft of wine-making.

With any luck, Greece and the world in general will be out of the woods soon when it comes to virus fears that have so damaged tourism in 2020. But with so much conflicting advice out there from governments, international institutions, the media and individual experts, what do the proprietors of Ktima Gerovassiliou advise for potential tourists to Greece and their estate now?

“Of course we encourage them to visit Greece,” Livadioti says. “Summer after all is the most attractive season for visiting Greece. However, we believe that all seasons are special.”

For the museum director, “we are happy we are able to welcome visitors, both from Greece and abroad. We apply the measures of the Government, and that works well for us and our visitors. Although we don’t have many at the moment they are all excited to come. Fortunately, we receive many compliments from every single one of them regarding their experience in our estate.”

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Note: Ktima Gerovassiliou Winery and Museum will be closed for visits and guided tours from Monday, August 3, till Sunday, August 16, 2020 due to summer holidays.

Ktima Gerovassiliou, marked here in red, is located 25km south of Thessaloniki and is easily accessible for visitors.

Return to page Greek Travel after the Pandemic: Seizing Opportunities in Challenging Times