The santameriana grape is a traditional variety grown in the village of Santameri (a few dozen kilometers from Patras, in Achaia). The village, with only a few hundred inhabitants, is at about 600 meter above sea level and its economy is linked to olive and cereal growing and pastoralism. Santameri, however, has also an important wine production history which dates back to ancient times. The name of the village, which also gives the name to the grape variety once grown on these hills, dates back to the 8th century, when a nobleman of French origins, Nicholas de Saint-Omer, after the 4th crusade and now the Lord of Thebes, built a castle here.
The vineyards of Santameri were hit by the phyloxera in the first half of the 20th century, when most native Greek vine varieties were destroyed, with the exception of those grown on the islands. Starting from the ’60s, the depopulation of the countryside struck the last blow on this historical vine variety. The vineyards were removed to leave room to other crops and those who kept producing grapes replaced it with other varieties, including mavrodaphne, and especially roditis. Only a few scattered stumps of santameriana were left in the countryside, amidst other vines.
Santameriana is a white grape vine; the grapes are round and have a thin skin. The color ranges from green to straw and golden yellow, when ripe. The bunches are medium-sized.
The aroma is intense and fruity: it smells of peach, pear, honey and white flowers. The grapes are harvested around mid-September.
Only one vine grower is still preserving the variety. Panos Dimitropoulos has recovered a few vines that have survived thanks to his father, who had kept them at the edges of his plots. Ten years ago, he managed to reproduce the vine shoots, which he planted on a 1.5 hectare plot. His biodynamic winery – Sant’Or – sells a monovarietal white wine made exclusively with santameriana, thus rescuing an element of the local biodiversity that had almost disappeared. Other very small local producers mix santamaneriana with other varieties to enhance the taste of the wines that they mostly produce for self-consumption.