Tastanis Dairy, Lesvos, Greece
Producers of Feta PDO
Panagiotis Tastanis and his nephew Demetri produce their unique feta in the Agra region, on the western edge of the island of Lesvos in Greece. Lesvos is one of only a handful of areas in Greece to have PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status to produce Feta. The village of Agra sits on the rim of a volcanic caldera that has been home to sheep and shepherds for centuries. Panagiotis is the third generation of his family to make feta. Milk is sourced from fifteen shepherds and 1,500 local breed sheep to produce feta from December to July each year.
During the day, the sheep graze freely on the volcanic landscape. There they feed on a wide variety of herbs, grasses, wild flowers and shrubs. Around sixty per cent of the animals are milked by hand twice a day. After which, the milk is taken to the dairy to be filtered, pasteurised and made into cheese.
The cheese is dry-salted and matured in brine to develop well balanced and rich flavours. The salt used comes from the nearby saltpans at Kalloni, which have been producing salt from the Mediterranean Sea for around 400 years.
When we have visited Tastanis dairy and its enchanting surroundings, we were able to witness the traditional practices of milking to cheese-making as well as sample their unique feta in the dairy. We now take a batch of feta at six-month maturity every spring-time to sell in our warmer months.