Santorini’s location and soil makes it a unique wine region in Greece and even in the entire world. With a history of wine production dating from the Bronze Age, no wonder that today Santorini offers some of the best wines in Greece. Enjoy them with friends, in a traditional taverna while sampling some of the Greek dishes.
After the cataclysmic volcanic eruption of 1645 BC, the entire island of Santorini was covered by lava, ash and pumice stone. However, as a result of the disaster the soil became perfect for creating the distinctive wines of Santorini. You will find grapes growing on the eastern slopes of the caldera’s edge, ending at sea level, right near the famous black beaches.
The soil retains the water from moisture created during the night, hence offering the amount of water the vines need during the summer when the temperatures are really high. Because of the strong Santorini winds, the vines are trained to grow in a basket that insures perfect conditions.
Wineries and wines
The major wineries in Santorini are:
- Antoniou Wines (cultivated near Megalochori)
- Boutaris Wines (cultivated near Megalochori)
- Canava Roussos (cultivated near Mesa Gonia)
- Santo Wines (cultivated near Pyrgos)
- Volcan Wines (cultivated near Messaria).
The best wine grape in Santorini is Asyrtiko and represents 80% of the entire vineyard area. It produces dry Appellation wines. Traditionally, it is blended with Aidani Aspro and Athiri. The white wines are dry and carry some aroma of citrus combined with minerals and smoke from the volcanic soil. The wine preserves its acidity while having a high alcoholic content. Currently, this variety started to be replanted in areas near Thessaloniki but the wines don’t offer the nice mineral aftertaste and have more fruity character.
One of the well known Santorini dessert wines is Visanto –wines from Santorini-, which is naturally sweet but can also be fortified. However, it’s mandatory to be barrel-aged for at least two years. Traditionally, the grapes are let to dry under the sun for 10 days before being processed in order to concentrate their juice. It carries a distinct aroma of chocolate, honey, flowers and dried apricots and is usually low in alcohol. Mezzo is also a desert wine but not as sweet as Visanto.
Santorini is not particularly known for its red wines, but some of the red cultivars, such as Mandilariá and Mavrotrágano, are becoming more and more important in the premium wine production.
The Wine Museum
Combine the pleasures of wine tasting with an audio tour of the Wine Museum. For a small fee, you get to visit the museum and taste three wines at the end. The tour takes 40 minutes and you walk underground in a natural cave where all the exhibits are located.
Every Friday the museum offers a traditional Greek night where the visitor can enjoy the traditional Greek food, music and dances.
The Wine Museum is open year round (April to November – 12 p.m to 8 p.m.; November to March – 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)