December 20, 2023
Vassilis Lafazanis on Three Generations Of Winemaking
Lafazanis Winery produces inspired wines by virtue of its advanced technology, its expert and seasoned staff, and the charismatic Peloponnesian land that surrounds it!
The history of the Lafazanis Winery began 70 years ago, in 1946, when Vasilis Lafazanis started crafting wine in Piraeus. In 1960, the Lafazanis family established its first privately-owned winery in Magoula, Attica. In 1985, the family’s second generation, with its academic education on oenology, its experience, and its vision, laid the foundations for a high-quality, state-of-the-art winery.
Ever since that time, armed with its implicit faith in the fruits of Greek viticulture, the Lafazanis Winery works seamlessly to cultivate grape varieties native to Greece and produce superb quality wines. In 1993, faithfully keeping to that perspective, Spyros Lafazanis took the initiative to establish an even more advanced winery in the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Nemea zone. By showcasing Agiorgitiko and many other domestic and international grape varieties, Spyros Lafazanis crafted new wines of exquisite quality that reflect the company’s flawless know-how and the region’s enormous potential for top quality.
London Wine Competition chats with Vassilis Lafazanis on his role as a winemaker.
Tell us a little about your background and journey into winemaking.
I remember myself in a winery with my siblings, Athina & Theofilos, from a really young age, near my father and my grandfather, so it was like a natural evolution for me to study Oenology at the University.
Your current role and what does your day look like?
I am in the oenologists' team of our Group of companies, I participate in every single harvest, I'm 7/24 available for our wineries physically and mentally, and probably you will find me in our lab, testing, making new blends and trying new wine innovations!
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
It was surely the love of the wine- science. My father influenced me with his passion for vine cultivation, vinification and the love of nature, so I could do nothing but follow his steps!
What are some of the most important skills for a winemaker?
Observation, prediction and perception. When you work with nature, you have to eavesdrop on your cultivation, forecast the production and calculate the result.
How do you think a winemaker can help in driving marketing and sales personally?
Knowing the product from the inside helps itself in driving marketing and sales. What we want, is to educate the consumers over time, step by step, so they can appreciate good wine and understand the story behind this kind of art.
Define a good winemaker
Spyros lafazanis. My father.
What is the hardest part of a winemaker's job?
The hardest part is time management. We have to give ourselves, completely to this job. You need to be patient to see your grape becoming a wine. You need to be focused on the process, no matter the duration. You need to be there, from the vine to the bottle.
What do you do when you are not working/making wine?
I usually spent my time at the winery, studying the wine news, travelling around the wine world, and generally, wine is my life!
What are the current challenges winemakers are facing according to you?
I strongly believe that climate change is the most difficult challenge of our times because every year is different from the previous one and we never know what to expect. The only thing we can do is to be prepared to face whatever arises.
What skill or topic you are learning currently in wine and why?
I love studying and experimenting with wine innovation, mostly with greek varieties and unexpected agricultural & oenological techniques, especially since when the wineries of our country became more than we could imagine! The Greek average consumer is more educated than ever in wine, so they search for something interesting and different.
What is your idea of a good life?
There are two greek sayings that I stand out:
1) "Wine rejoices the heart!" (Οίνος ευφραίνει καρδία!)
2) "The best thing is to have everything in moderation" (Παν μέτρον άριστον.)
Who are your top 3 sommeliers whose work you admire?
I admire the work of Konstantinos Lazarakis & Yiannis Karakasis, as Masters of Wine, and Aris Sklavenitis & Konstantinos Kosmopoulos, as sommeliers in Greece.
Your favourite 2-3 wine books?
Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding & Jose Vouillamoz and The Wines of Greece by Konstantinos Lazarakis.