Katakolon is best-known as the closest cruise port to the site of the ancient Olympic games. Most passengers take an excursion to this ancient Olympic site, but since I had visited the Olympic site before, Juanda and I took a short tour to the Mercouri Estate and its vineyards, which was less than a 15-minute drive from Katakolon.
Mercouri Estate was an old winery (over 150 years old), and we had a funny guide from Glascow. He had lived in the USA and worked at Los Alamos in New Mexico as a physicist for 12 years, but had wanted to move to Greece, so he got this job at the winery.
The Mercouri Estate is owned and operated by the fourth generation of the family, and they make wine and grow olives for olive oil. They are starting to produce balsamic vinegar, but the first batch won't be ready for 12 years. The old house is a little spooky (we didn't go inside) and is inhabited by a 92-year old woman and her housekeeper. We toured the old stable, which was filled with antique farm equipment, took a photo of the very small family church, and petted the St. Bernard dogs. I felt like we were on a traditional Greek vineyard and farm.
Chris, the guide, explained that the property is part vineyard and part zoo, and we believed him since there were also numerous peacocks on the grounds. They had finished the grape harvest just that same week in October, and the winery was busy beginning to process the harvest. We went down in the cellar and looked at the French oaken barrels used to store and age the wine. After the tour, we sat outside at tables under huge shade trees overlooking the Ionian Sea and enjoyed the Foloi Fume white wine the estate is famous for, accompanied by bread and Mercouri olive oil, cheese, small ham sandwiches, and olives. Very relaxing snack, and delicious, too.
We were back at the small town of Katakolon by 1:00, and Juanda and I wandered around the town and shopped for a while before returning to the ship at 2:30. We ate a light lunch outdoors by the pool. It had been a marvelous day in Greece.
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