Wine Tasting: & Birdwatching around Athens, Oct 2022

Birding, Wine Tasting, Winery visit: A different way to explore Athens

A special tailor made day trip was organized today for two birders from Ontario, combining wine tasting, birdwatching and ancient greek history

Two Canadian birders, Pediattician Dr. Keith Gregoire and his wife writter and blogger Sheila Wray had a stop over in Athens from a Mediterranean cruise, and wanted to see as many new birds as possible. They also requested a visit with archeological interest, so Temple of Artemis in Vravrona was ideal. Finally they wanted to taste greek variety of wines, so we set up an visit to one oldest traditional wineries of Athens. 

Wine tasting in Athens
Wine tasting after a morning of birding!

Just after dissembarkation, Keith and his wife walked for a few minutes in the nearby park, were they surprisingly had Red-backed Shrike, Willow Warblers, Sardinian Warbler and Cetti's warbler. All of them, just a few steps from their huge cruise boat! What a way to start a birding day.

We headed east, passing beside the east slopes of Mt Hymettus, and our first stop was the tower of Vravrona. Several Common Kestrels were seen, as well as the first Spotted Flycatchers of the day, followed by Common Buzzard. Our next location was the estuary of Vravrona, just beside the impressively well preserved Temple of Artemis. Due to the strong winds, and passing by hikers, we only saw a Little Egret but no shorebirds or gulls. 

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard (Photo: Keith Gregoire)

Common Kestrel
Common Kestrel (Photo: Keith Gregoire)

So we moved to Artemis Lagoon, where we had a great birding opportunities. Lots of different stints, plovers and sandpipers: Little Stint, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Redshank, Little Plover, Little Ringed Plover. More than 15 Teals were observed and few a Moorhens too. 

Little Stints
Little Stints (Photo: Keith Gregoire)

Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper (Photo: Keith Gregoire)

After a local street food lunch with gyros and pitta, we continued to Rafina Port, where we birded along the river mouth of Rafina Stream. This is one of the best places to see Common Kingfisher, we managed to get 2 of them. Little Grebes and the first Grey Wagtails for this winter could also be seen. 

The last stop pf our tour, was a winery at Spata, one of the first to be established as early as 1908. We started with a visit on the grounds of a plot of Savatiano vineyards, the indigenous variety of the Attican wine country. We learned about the origins of viticulture and vine, bask in the sun and observe the non-irrigated, goblet formations of Savatiano growing amidst rosemary and thyme on the Attican argillaceous terroir

A tour at the nearby vineyard

Savatiano: the local variety of Athens
Savatiano: the local variety of Athens

Vineyard of Savatiano in Spata fields
Vineyard of non-irrigated Savatiano in Spata fields

Vineyard of Savatiano in Spata fields
Vineyard of Savatiano in Spata fields

We then headed towards the exhibit hall, to see the collection of agricultural and viticultural tools, early 19th century industrialization of winemaking machinery.
We left the wine tasting at the end: at the outdoor patio of the Museum Garden,  seated on heavy wooden monastery tables we commenced our wine tasting accompanied by cheese and baked goods assortments. Savatiano, Agriorgitiko, Assyrtiko Malavouzia were only a few of the varieties we tasted, full of aromas and flavors of the Attica nature

 Wine tasting  

A third generation winery at Spata
A third generation winery at Spata

Greek traditional wine varieties 

Overall, we saw more than 40 species of birds and tasted 7 varieties of local greek wine!