Hiking through lush forests, our writer follows ancient paths to witness the reinvention of Greece’s iconic wine

We’re high in the mountains above Skopelos town and there’s not a single Mamma Mia! fan in sight. A warm breeze stirs the trees, filling the air with the citric scent of pine needles as we follow the Retsina Trail, one of several ancient cobbled paths (known as calderimi) that were used by the island’s resin collectors up until the 1990s when demand for the sticky substance declined.

It’s early October and spike-armoured chestnuts scrunch beneath our feet as we hike through dense forest covering the spine of this lush Sporades island, just an hour’s ferry from Skiathos. Apart from the chestnuts and the occasional cluster of tiny rain-starved blackberries, there’s little else to tell us that it’s autumn; with temperatures soaring to 30C by midday we appreciate the forest’s dappled shade. As we walk, Heather Parsons, owner of hiking company Skopelos Trails, shows me how the resin collectors would tap the pines by peeling back a small strip of bark, applying a paste that stimulates the flow of sap, then attaching a bag to catch the sticky substance as it slowly leaked from the tree. Several tons of resin would then be carried – via this trail – to Skopelos on the island’s north-east coast, where it would be shipped off to the mainland for use in paints, solvents and cosmetics, and for making Greece’s iconic retsina wine.

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Source: Gaurdian

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