I went to Santorini for a visit this summer and was simply amazed by the beauty of the island. It exceeded my expectations on many levels and what specifically caught my attention was the great wine culture the island has had for centuries. Some vineyards are over 400 years old; while other European countries suffered from Phylloxera (a louse that caused extreme damage to the vines) Santorini was never hit by the epidemy. The soil of the island is volcanic and this gives the wine its interesting taste.
The four grapes that are most popular on the island are the white Assyrtiko, Athiri and Aidani, red is made from Mandilaria.
A funny fact is that the vineyards on Santorini look a lot different from the typical vineyards you see all over Europe. The plant grows in little baskets close to the ground. This type of vine pruning is called kouloura and was developed on Santorini. Reason for this is the extreme heat and wind the island has to cope with. They plant their vines in a protective way so they aren’t affected by these forces of nature.
The biggest wine cooperation on Santorini is Santo wines. Everyone can pay a visit to the winery for a tour or a tasting. It’s a giant terrace with a breathtaking view of the caldera. Here you can sit, enjoy the view and do a tasting of as many wines as you want accompanied by some nice snacks or even a complete dinner.
We tasted five of their white wines, starting off with their sparkling wine. My personal favorite is definitely the Assyrtiko. The wine has fresh acidity which keeps it crispy but because of the volcanic soil it is extremely mineral.
Another great place I visited was the Gaia winery. The complete opposite of the Santo winery because it is located in the middle of nowhere practically on the beach and is very small. The fact that it is such a small winery (they have other wineries on the mainland of Greece which are much bigger) made it a very personal visit. The girl that did the tour with us took her time guiding us through the whole process of winemaking and showed us the entire vineyard and wine cellar.
After the tour we got seated for the tasting. Again, we chose the white wines because of the extreme heat and ended off with a two very nice rose wines made from Agiorgitiko grapes.
If you ever visit Santorini and you are a wine lover I definitely recommend you to set foot in a winery, it won’t disappoint you!