Wine connoisseurs and fans, take note! Gianaclis Vineyards now offers a guided tour through its vineyards and a private wine tasting session where you can experience the full range of premium and limited-edition Gianaclis wines.
Visitors are picked up from a central Cairo location in a VIP bus at 9AM, and by VIP, we mean luxurious recliner seats (just like business class on airplanes!) with foot rests and air conditioning. The bus trip takes two hours on the Cairo-Alex Desert road, where you take a right off the road into an area actually named Gianaclis after the vineyard.
The vineyard consists of the winery itself, a small field, and a plush visitor centre that has been recently refurbished and renovated.
The visitor centre itself is stunning with brown brick walls, a massive iron chandelier, a dome-shaped ceiling and dark wooden tables in front of a large fireplace. It’s like a cross between an old church and a drinking tavern; classy and classic, you can feel the history and heritage of the vineyards.
First off, visitors are shown a fifteen-minute video on the history of winemaking in Egypt, which includes original photographs of the founding family and when the vineyard was first built.
Winemaking actually can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians. In the 19th century, Greek entrepreneur Nestor Gianaclis revived the ancient tradition by setting up a world-class winery that won recognition from connoisseurs all over the world.
The Gianaclis Vineyards were nationalised in the 1960s, after which the quality of the wines declined until Al Ahram Beverages Company (ABC) took over the vineyards in 1997 and started to revive the winery. Today, Gianaclis Vineyards is the biggest modern winery in the region, producing a variety of wines for the Egyptian market. The company is now part of Al Ahram Beverages Company (ABC), a Heineken International company.
After the video screening, the walking tour begins and you are given a fluorescent bib to wear – Gianaclis Vineyards is very strict about hygiene and safety hazards. Step outside of the centre, and large arrows lead the way of your tour around the vineyard. Your tour guide will give you a brief explanation on the cycle of the winemaking process and how the wines are made. It’s definitely not too technical and difficult; so even wine rookies will walk away with useful information, such as the difference between red and white wines – you remove the grape's peel and flesh in white wine, hence its lighter colour.
Then you are taken to the wine presses, where the grapes are brought in and squeezed for their juices. Since the surrounding area has been urbanised over the years, this location doesn’t house all of Gianaclis Vineyards; instead, the company’s vineyards are spread out in different areas of the Delta, while this venue is more of an incubation area, where the new varieties and noble grapes are tested for future wines.
After that, you are taken to the fermentation vents, where the wines are kept for six to eight months in stainless steel towers. Interestingly, Gianaclis Vineyards fly in international wine connoisseurs and consultants to taste the wines before they are bottled, which is part of the reason why each vintage tastes different year on year.
The tour moves onto the oak barrel room, where premium wines are aged in very antique looking barrels to allow them to age and develop a rich flavour. This guided walk will take you one hour.
Back at the visitor centre, you can opt to sit outdoors on their terrace to enjoy the sun or indoors as they serve you a light and classy barbeque: each course in the meal has been carefully constructed to match the accompanying wine. As you taste the wine, they will explain to why certain vintages match meats and others fit fish, and so on.
Last of all, visitors the tour group heads back to the showroom, where bottles of the company’s wine brands – including Ayam, Leila, Aida, Cape Bay, Chateau De Reves and more – are displayed in wine racks along the brick walls. There you can pick out your favourite wine, including a limited edition of Ayam Red, which in our opinion is the best wine to come out of Egypt as it spends more time in the barrels than the regular Ayam Red.
Tours can be arranged for small and large groups at 150LE per person, including transportation, the wine tour and the lunch. This could be a perfect gift for a wine-loving friend or a fun and different weekend excursion for you and your family.
Gianaclis Vineyards is only open to visitors on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and requires reservations for tours to be made in advance via their website. The company also recommends that you wear sensible shoes with good grip as certain areas of the tour may be slippery.