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Everything you need to know about the wine of Santorini

Cyclades ● Santorini ● 16 May 2017

The wine in Santorini is one of the best in Greece, if not in Europe. One of the most famous excursions in Santorini is the wine tour in the vineyards of the island. This tour includes a visit in a traditional winery, where the traveller can taste different wines and local dishes. The reason why this tour in Santorini is so popular is the quality of the wine combined with the picturesque scenery of the island. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about the wine in Santorini.

Wine has been produced on the island since ancient times, and during the Middle Ages, it became famous worldwide under the Venetian influence. Thanks to the extensive trade network and maritime control of the Italians, the wines of Santorini were widely exported throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. Santorini produces the sweet wine called Vinsanto, white and rose wine from grape varieties such as Assyrtiko, Athiri and Nykteri and red wine from the variety of Mavrotragano.

What gives the wine of Santorini its characteristic taste is that the vineyard's soil is very poor, composed of volcanic ash and rocks, while the calcareous subsoils are porous, which helps to retain some of the humidity in the air and release it as moisture in the night for the vines to utilize.  Furthermore, Santorini is immune to the plylloxera as its volcanic soil contains none of the clay that the parasite needs in order to survive. As a result, many of the roots found on the vineyards on the island are centuries old.

Wine in Santorini

The grape growers of Santorini use a unique bush-training system, also known as koulara, to grow the grapes. As the vines grow, they are woven into baskets with the grapes facing the inside of the ring. Thus, it can be provided protection for the grapes from harsh winds and sunlight. The koulara are often grown haphazardly on small plots of land and can be mistaken for wild bushes by those, who do not know the procedure. Grape varieties are frequently grown together and the growers are often unaware which grapes are which until the harvest, which takes place in August.

The most famous variety of Santorini wine is Vinsanto, which is an ancient winemaking tradition that dates back thousands of years and represents an important part of the island’s history. In order for a wine to be labelled as Vinsanto, the wine must be predominately made from the Assyrtiko grape. In 2002, the European Union decided to name Santorini as Vinsanto’s place of origin, giving thus the island exclusive rights to the use of this name on its sweet wines. Every wine tour in Santorini gives the visitor the opportunity to taste this unique kind of wine together with other kinds that have a characteristic flavour and learn the secrets of the winemaking process walking around the vineyards and exploring the miracle from the harvest to the wine bottle.