Gentilini was the family name of founder Spiro Kosmetatos’ grandmother, Marianna, the last of a long noble lineage.
Kefalonia (also know as Cephalonia), the island of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, is the largest and most complex of the Ionian Islands in western Greece.
1593. Italian army engineer Marino Gentilini was commissioned by the Venetian Senate to build the extensive Assos fortifications on Kefalonia to protect it from marauding pirates. He eventually married and settled here, and his name was inscribed in the Libro d’Oro of noble families.
1978. Having spent time in the beautiful wine country of Cape Town, Spiro Kosmetatos returned to his ancestral island of Kefalonia and planted his first acre of an obscure local white grape variety with the vision of creating a world class wine in Greece.
1984. The first tiny vintage of Gentilini was released simultaneously in Athens and London. At the time Spiro was a pioneer in fine wine making in Greece and paved the way for other boutique wineries that followed.
2020. Now in his 80’s, Spiro is still fit and active and his mind is razor sharp. Although he enjoys helping out in the vineyards from time to time, he is busy as President of the Focas-Cosmetatos Foundation which operates a museum and runs cultural programs for children. Under his leadership, the Foundation has blossomed and 1998 saw the establishment of the Cephalonia Botanica which aims to preserve the local flora by collaborating with seed banks and other botanical gardens around the world. Both the charming museum in Argostoli and the lovely Botanica on the outskirts of the town are open to visitors throughout the summer.
The winery and vineyards have now passed to the next generation.
2002. Spiros’ daughter Marianna and her husband Petros Markantonatos took over the estate.
Growing up, Marianna assisted with harvests and in the winery when she could during school and university breaks. Since supplies and equipment were hard to come by in Greece she would often bring back yeast and pipettes in her suitcase! Her studies took her to America where she graduated from the Hotel School at Cornell University and began a career with the Sheraton group. It seemed as though she would follow a path away from wine.
Petros was born in Melbourne, Australia to Kefalonian parents. He graduated from RMIT with a degree in Applied Biology and Biotechnology, and received his Masters in Biochemistry and Yeast Engineering from the University of Sussex in the UK before returning to Greece.
Wine Brings People Together
We met by chance at a party in Athens and the rest, as they say, is history. We began helping out with sales of the wine on the side, and in 2002 we both gave up our careers to immerse ourselves in our shared passion full time.
As in the past, our aim is to produce top quality, exciting wines while promoting the unique flavours and aromas of the local Kefalonian varieties.
Today, we have 10 hectares under vine and we make a core range of nine wines. We also produce experimental wines each year to keep us moving forward and quantities have purposefully been kept low to ensure that quality is not compromised.
We are greatly satisfied that our daughter, Irianna, is also showing a keen interest in continuing the family business. Still in her teens she joins in during harvest and assists at the Cellar Door, and has already developed a very sophisticated nose and palate.