Our wine story begins with Evangelos Kechris, who imports glass bottles from the U.S. to bottle wine for the first time in Greece. Although he doesn’t manage to implement his pioneering idea, he imparts the spark of innovation to his four sons.
The four siblings open their traditional tavern “Kokoras” in old Thessaloniki, which at the same time operates as a small winery with bottling facilities. There, besides their sun-dried wines, they also produce “Kechribari”, the retsina that stands out for its quality, rapidly generating increased demand.
To meet this demand, the four brothers establish the model winery-distillery “E.KECHRIS BROS” in Kalochori, Thessaloniki. Apart from “Kechribari”, in its state of the art facilities, they produce and bottle the popular “Konaki” wine, ouzo, brandy and several liqueurs.
Gradually, the top-quality wines and spirits of Kechris brothers become known beyond Greek borders resulting in the beginning of the company’s exports to Europe, mainly Germany.
Stelios Kechris, representative of the family’s third generation, finishes his enological studies in Dijon, France and returns to Thessaloniki. Willing to apply his scientific knowledge and winemaking skills, he sets up his workshop and starts to experiment with Greek grape varieties. The first result of his experimentation is “Primeur”, an innovative white wine from the variety of roditis, produced from the free run must of the grapes. This wine gives the impetus to the vinification of aromatic wines, on which many later winemakers will focus.
Stelios Kechris and his dynamic wife Konstantia take up the reins of the family business. Stelios Kechris modernizes the production facilities and processes according to international standards and sets the foundation for his winemaking philosophy, marking a new era for the winery. For Stelios Kechris, wine is a lot more than an end product; it is a living organism in a state of flux, affecting and being affected by the winemaker’s decisions and choices while tradition is not a representation of static symbols trapped in time, but a point of departure and source of inspiration. Based on these principles, Stelios Kechris makes the decision to focus on retsina, a wine inextricably interwoven with Greek tradition, with the aim of changing its perception as an underrated product in Greece and abroad. Optimizing the wine protocol of retsina “Kechribari”, he manages to prove that, with the proper cultivation and vinification methods, retsina can equal the world’s finest wines. The wide recognition of his effort comes fifteen years later: “Kechribari” becomes the first retsina in global wine history awarded a medal at an international wine competition (Thessaloniki, 1999).
A name is born. “The tear of the pine”. Its creator is Stelios Kechris’ daughter Eleni, who is in Germany for her internship. Whilst “Kechribari” embodies the traditional version of retsina, this poetic name inspires father and daughter to envision retsina’s modern version. Having answered the question of how retsina should be, Stelios Kechris begins to experiment with different grape varieties and vinification methods exploring the limits of the traditional wine.
A wind of change blows in Kalochori. “Kechribari”, keeping its quality intact, changes its appearance and is recirculated in the popular olive-green corked carafe that remains the winery’s trademark to date.
“Kechribari” becomes the very first retsina awarded a gold medal at an international wine competition, this of Thessaloniki, opening a new chapter in global wine history.
The winery is flooded with the scent of three women. Stelios Kechris’ three daughters, the family’s fourth generation, come to the forefront. Completing her enological studies in Bordeaux, France, Eleni becomes a vital member of the winery’s production team contributing to the creation of distinct blends and the change in the red wines vinification protocol. One year later, Maria becomes the art director of the company while Zoe begins to participate in the company’s administrative and financial management.
The idea born nine years ago, is finally implemented. After long experimentation, Stelios Kechris creates “the tear of the pine” giving his own answer to how retsina can be. For Stelios Kechris, retsina can be made from a world-class Greek grape variety; it can be fermented and matured in oak barrels as in the old times; and it can lead tradition to a new era of evolution and innovation. One year later, “the tear of the pine” is awarded a grand gold medal at Thessaloniki International Wine Competition, the highest award ever won by a retsina wine, proving that retsina can be a tip-top white wine.
Three years, four historic firsts, one wine. “The tear of the pine” is awarded a gold medal at the largest international wine contests: Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge (2009), Mundus Vini (2013) and Vinalies Internationales (2014) classify the unique retsina of Stelios Kechris into the “crème de la crème” of the global wine map. And our story continues…
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