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09 September 2023

Unimaginable Catastrophe in Thessaly, Central Greece

By Yiannis Karakasis MW

"The destruction is unthinkable, with 1100 millimetres of rain in 72 hours," Konstantinos Liappis from the upcoming Arlekinon Chora winery notes. All the rivers and streams that had been blocked have now overflowed and created torrents. (The average annual rainfall in Bordeaux is approximately 900 millimetres.) 

The winery is located behind the mountainous town of Domokos, in the southernmost tip of Thessaly, at an altitude of 380 meters, and due to its elevation, it did not face problems. However, a river passed through a 0.5-ha vineyard mainly planted with Malagousia and swept everything away. "People have lost their homes; we have lost human lives," says Liappis, pointing a finger at climate change and inadequate government response. Three years ago, we suffered damage from Ianos storm, and nothing has changed, he reports.

During Ianos, cumulative rainfall amounts were recorded at 317 mm (Pertouli), 274 mm (Mouzaki), and 227 mm (Ithaki), while during the onslaught of current Storm Daniel, significantly higher cumulative rainfall amounts were recorded. For example, Zagora Pelion (910 mm), Portaria Pelion (885 mm), Anilio Metsovo (695 mm), Pezoula Karditsa (660 mm), Karditsa (659 mm). (source: Kathimerini)

The Kontozisi winery at the foothills of the Agrafa Mountains has suffered massive damage. "The entire mountain literally came down onto our vineyard. The situation is both tragic and uncontrollable," says Aphrodite Toussia, noting that they will not harvest many vineyards. "The destruction is enormous for us, especially for the red grape varieties; we hope to salvage some of the vineyard sections that are higher up," she continues. (All photos are from the Kontozisi winery.)

Domokos faced many problems, but "fortunately for us, our vineyard is at an altitude, and that's how it was saved," says Dimitris Gkirlemis from Gkirlemis winery. "However, what we're experiencing is unprecedented, with zero support. We need serious projects, which have been delayed here," he points out. On the other hand, Ganis Winery was not so fortunate, with 8 ha having literally disappeared due to the storm, according to winemaker Dimitris Mansolas. 

The damage to the vineyards is significant, says Thanos Dougos from Dougos winery in the Rapsani region near Larissa. "It will be difficult, especially for Xinomavro because of the bush vines and its fragile shoots; I fear we will have losses." It was two tough nights without electricity, and many wineries faced enormous problems, like the Papathanasiou winery in Farsala.

With the level of Pineios River at 10 meters (elsewhere, it is reported as 12 meters) and the Thessalian Plain turning into a large lake (according to images from the European Union's Copernicus satellite system, the flooded areas - as of Thursday afternoon, where data was available - amount to 72.900 ha), our thoughts are with those who are suffering and struggling.

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