The region of Zitsa is on the northwest side of the Ioannina district, which became widely known for its excellent wines. Zitsa has been praised for its wines since the 17th century, and many visitors have written flattering references. The renowned Philhellene Lord Byron was one of them, who, enchanted by the landscape, referred to the vineyards of Zitsa in one of his poems. The tradition and reputation of the region in wines, has listed it by law in the “Designation of Origin of Superior Quality” wine zone.
The wine-growing zone of Zitsa mainly spans the Zitsa plateau, at an average altitude of 650m and spreads on the slopes of the surrounding hills and mountains at altitudes of up to 800m. To the west it descends towards the river Thyamis (or Kalamas) at altitudes up to 500m. It has the highest annual rainfall of all PDO wine zones in Greece and the shallow limestone soils are rich in potassium. The unique microclimate of the region significantly influences harvest, and grape harvesting takes place after mid-September or October, constituting a genuine cause for celebration.
The wine-growing zone today is approximately 1,700 acres, it includes six villages and the highly resistant white variety Debina, with its own unique taste qualities, is cultivated in 95% of the Zitsa vineyards.
The varieties “Vlachiko” and “Bekiari” produce excellent quality red wines, while combined with “Debina” result in the well-known semi-sparkling rosé wine of Zitsa.
“Glinavos Winery” and “Zoinos Winery” in Zitsa participate in the “Wine Route of Epirus” and are open to the public. Together with the “Prassos Winery”, they produce 15 types of PDO (AOQS) Zitsa wines, of which 7 are sparkling.
In the last week of August, a Wine Festival is organized at the monastery of Prophet Elias in Zitsa. If you happen to be in the area around that time, you will have the chance to try many different varieties.