The origin of the wines of Santorini dates back 3500 years in history. Its production and trade enjoyed great prestige in 1700 B.C. Its uniqueness is due to a combination of environmental conditions and the way of cultivation, which have made this wine what it is today. On the one hand, is the micro-climate of the island which is very dry in an arid environment with hot wind and lack of water. The wind dehydrates the grapes and increases the level of sugar. On the other hand is its porous soil, with stones of volcanic origin.
Thousands of people across the world visit Santorini every year simply to enjoy the local wine with the most fitting scenery possible. The view of the sunset upon the Aegean Sea.
So what else makes Santorini wine so good? Besides the above conditions it is necessary to ensure that competition between the vines is minimal. Therefore, planting density is small and vines are grown at a very low height. 70% of plantations is dominated by the Assyrtiko grape. One of the most popular ones is the Vinsanto, a sweet and aromatic wine, without added alcohol. The grapes are dried in the sun. It is a wine produced since ancient times, and that in the Middle Ages was exported to other parts of the world like Venice or Istanbul.
As you may know, the wines are stored in traditional “kanaves” which are cellars dug into the ground. This is the case from most traditional Greek wineries. The vineyards are part of the landscape and culture of the island, and today they are constantly increasing wine tourism on the island. Visitors tour through the vineyard and winery routes, exploring the secrets of Greek wine. They get to understand how this amazing Greek wine is produced and, of course, taste it.
There are numerous wineries open to the public during holiday season – especially in summer -, which see visitors enjoy a glass of delicious wine from Santorini, after visiting the facilities. Here’s a list of the wineries that can be visited:
– Oia – Sigalas Estate (open from June to August from 10:00 to 19:00 and on weekends from 11:00 to 21:00)
– Vothonas – Koutsogiannopoulos Winery (open from April to October from 12:00 to 20:00 and from November to March 9:00 to 14:20, except Sundays).
– Pyrgos – Hatzidakis Winery (it is interesting because it is located in an underground cave beneath the vineyards; by appointment) and Santo Wines (open from March to November 10:00 to 20:00)
– Mesa & Exo Gonia – Argyros Estate (appointment), Canava Roussos (one of the oldest on the island, which operates since 1836. Open from May to September 11:00 to 19:00) and Art Space Agyros – Canava (in summer from 11:00 to 20:00) and in winter, only Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 16:00).
– Megalochori – Antoniou Winery (by appointment), Boutari Winery (from 10:00 to 19:00) and Gavalas Vineyard (from April to October from 10:00 to 20:00).
– Fira – Argiris Sigalas Wine Houses
There is also the possibility to take a tour through the villages of Santorini and visit the wineries for some wine tasting.
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Photos: Mark Scharen, Brandon Burns, Klearchos Kapoutsis, Cycling Man, mariusz, Maggie Meng.