Achaia Clauss … with the smell of Mavrodaphne!



Just a few minutes away from Patras, the wooden gate of the ACHAIA CLAUSS Winery welcomes wine lovers and “unsuspecting” visitors to a place that offers a journey to the senses.

The history of the winery begins in 1852 when the Bavarian Gustav Clauss  arrived in Patras to deal with the raisin trade that flourished in the 19th century in the country. On a visit to Petroto, he was enchanted by the same location that still impresses today. Among the vineyards and the forest, overlooking the city of Patras and the Gulf of Patras, he built the castle-winery of  ACHAIA CLAUSS  in 1861. And because every castle needs a princess, she was none other than his beloved, beautiful Daphne, with black eyes and black hair, from whom he named the first red wine produced by the vineyard, the famous “Mavrodaphne” However, beyond the vague truth of this romantic story, Clauss wife was Thomaida Karbouni, a member of the high society of Αthens. In 1919 the ownership of the winery passed from Clauss to the raisin merchant Vlasios Antonopoulos.

At the heart of the winery is of course the cellar. The space is evocative and functions both as a place where Mavrodaphne wine is made and as a museum of the winery’s history. The first impression of the space does not come from the image of the hundreds of huge barrels that have kept Mavrodaphne even for more than a hundred years, but from the intoxicating smell of wine and oak that overwhelms the cellar.

Walking through the corridors of the cellar, among the barrels of mavrodaphne, you realize that even each barrel individually can hide a story. ACHAIA CLAUSS dedicates a barrel to important personalities who visit the winery, who will leave a note, a message, a signature that permanently “decorates” the barrel. Thus the visitor can find barrels dedicated to politicians like Kostis Stephanopoulos and Antonis Samaras, religious leaders like the Ecumenical Patriarch, athletes like Nadia Comaneci, musicians like Thanos Mikroutsikos. A barrel dedicated to the winery’s most prominent visitor, the Empress Sissy, is missing from the section. The reason is that Clauss decided to dedicate the entire cellar, which is called “imperial”, to her.

Among the barrels are those that Clauss had dedicated to  the Archchancellor Otto Eduard Leopold Prince von Bismarck and the Marshal of the Prussian Army, Count Moltke. In fact, during the Occupation, the German detachment stationed at the winery is said to have paid tribute in front of the barrel and it was even decided not to destroy the winery.

“…we’ll be back.” This small phrase – commitment, written in the guest book of ACHAIA CLAUSS has great importance for the history of Achaia. It was written by the representative of the Red Cross, in Patras, Hans Ehrenstrole during a short stop on his way to Kalavryta to help the inhabitants after the holocaust in 1943. And indeed, Ehrenstrole returned to ACHAIA CLAUSS in 2003, keeping his promise. As a minimum token of its appreciation, ACHAIA CLAUSS dedicated a 2,545-litre barrel of October 1940 mavrodaphne to him.

Among the barrels are exhibits of the history of the winery, including the 19th century fire engine with the manual pump that protected the premises from fire.

Many of the estate’s workers lived in the castle town, creating a multi-ethnic community that included Greeks, Maltese, Italians and Germans. Many of their descendants are still working for the Company today. A characteristic indication of the relationship between ACHAIA CLAUSS and its employees are the paintings hanging on the walls of the cellar, depicting former employees of the winery who contributed to the progress of the company. Thus the last barrel maker, the vine grower and the winemaker of ACHAIA CLAUSS continue to ” be present ” at the winery. There is also a painting of Pierrot, the “trademark” of Patras and Carnival.

Two paintings depict the composers  Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner as a reminder of a special story. Having tasted mavrodaphne, at his friend Wagner’s house, the very next day he ordered mavrodaphne l from the representative of the Company, even asking him not to be late. So here are two of the most famous lovers of Greek wine….

And if the cellar is the heart, the soul of the winery is the precious archive of ACHAIA CLAUSS. The Company has been fortunate to have the entire archive at its disposal since its foundation. Orders, account books, incoming and outgoing documents, constitute a treasure trove for the history of the economic and political history of the country. Procedures have already begun to digitize and highlight the archive, which will be a valuable resource for researchers. Among the most interesting challenges of the archive is the reading of the Gothic script in which the records of the early period were kept.

Among the material a special place is occupied by the visitors’ books, where kings and partisans, famous and “anonymous” visitors have left their imprint, their little note, and their more or less important signature.

One of the most impressive buildings of the castle town isthe Villa Kostanza which functions as an exhibition space with objects, photographic material, archives, labels, artworks, etc. The villa was Clauss’ country house. However, it has at times hosted many of the estate’s prominent guests. Here, the Empress Sissy was enchanted by the magnificent view, the same view that visitors see today, and the architecture of the villa, and requested the same design for the balcony in the palace at Achilleion in Corfu. Next to the villa is the Catholic Church of St. Anne, which still continues to operate on certain days.

Recognizing the experience and knowledge of the Company and its people, the Ministry entrusted ACHAIA CLAUSS and its Vice-Chairman of the Board, Mr. Pericles Baltas, with the documentation and organization of the rich collection of the cellar of the Royal Estate in Tatoi. But also in the Imperial Cellar, the two largest barrels in Greece are kept, dedicated by Clauss to the royal couple George I and Olga. These two barrels have a capacity of 13,195 litres and were built in Trieste in 1882 

The endless list of celebrities and “anonymous” people who visited the winery during the years of its operation is due to its reputation, the quality of its wine, its economic role and Clauss’ pioneering decision to keep the winery open and accessible to visitors, introducing the concept of wine tourism as early as the 19th century. The Antonopoulos family continued and gradually strengthened the same policy when they took over the reins of the Company. Nowadays,  ACHAIA CLAUSSinvests in the estate’s visitability by organizing guided tours, educational programs for schools, wine tastings, and musical events, and of course the extremely popular, for young and old, open harvest every September.

Everyone can point to different features of the winery, some to the wooden barrels, others to the stone buildings, others to the beauty of the landscape, others to the taste of the wine. But everyone can only appreciate the love of those who work in it as shown by the impeccably maintained space, and the enthusiasm with which they talk about ACHAIA CLAUSS.

Achaia Clauss … with the smell of Mavrodaphne!
April 1 2024
April 1 2025