text: Charis Vekris
photo editing: Michalis Richter
Moraitis Winery may be renowned for its excellent Paros wines but its ouzo is no less inspirational. Packaged in fabulously designed bottles, BALLOS Ouzo is available at every upscale ouzo venue throughout the island. We traced it back to the winery’s impressive facilities in Naoussa, Paros, by the beach of Aghioi Anargyroi.
For the Moraitis family, winemaking started in 1910 with the family’s great-grandfather Manolis Moraitis and its journey through time is presented in an outstanding exhibition housed on the friendly ambience of the winery, whose heart still beats strong on each and every bottle of ouzo produced in that very same building. In 1980, the family business was handed down to Manolis Moraitis, the founder’s grandson, who renovated and modernized the winery, designing a singular wine museum which, every year, manages to attract several thousands of visitors.
Visitors who enter the winery’s spacious reception area, with its welcoming wooden benches and its barrels mounted up high, will instantly congratulate themselves for taking the time to visit the winery. After wandering through the ground floor’s exhibition of old winemaking tools, vessels, and prizes awarded to the family, you will end up in a magnificent event hall. The winery’s staff told us that it has become a venue for regularly scheduled events such as film screenings, presentations, and, yes, even concerts!
Wait! The best is yet to be: under the ideal conditions tenderly fostered by the building’s basement, the wine of the Moraitis family matures serenely in countless barrels. When ready, it is bottled and transferred just a bit farther, to stone-built cellars behind forbidding iron-bar gates evocative of the dungeons described in the novels of Victor Hugo.
The basement includes a specially designed distillation area. When you come across the stunning traditional pot still dominating a space filled with enormous carboys, glass bottles, scales, and other age-old distillation equipment, you can’t but feel the need to congratulate the people behind this utterly successful initiative to salvage, conserve, and showcase an important part not only of their family history, but of the history of Greece itself!
BALLOS Ouzo has been around for approximately 15 years. It contains 20% distillate and its time-honored recipe is based on the use of local aromatic herbs and ingredients. Production is small and restricted to no more than 1,000 liters annually which is mostly absorbed by Paros’ local market. Next time you’re in Paros, besides the island’s renowned wines and celebrated souma, jump at the chance to sample Paros’ hard-to-find, and oh-so-special BELLOS Ouzo.