Santorini has a well-known and flourishing wine industry. The wine production dates back thousands of years ago approximately around the 3rd millennium BC and has a fascinating historic continuity. The vineyards have continuously produced wines for 4.000 years, save for a period of approximately three hundred years immediately after the volcanic eruption, where all life was eliminated from the volcanic ash (known as “aspa”) and lava covering the island from side to side.
It takes hard work and dedication by the farmers to cultivate in the black volcanic soil From pruning to harvesting, everything is done by hand. The vintners have invented a distinct way of pruning, called “kouloura”. The vines stay close to the ground and form a spiral, a natural basket that hosts the grapes and protects them from the strong wind. Knit in the shape of a basket, the vines remain low on the ground and safe from the elements. In areas of notable slope, the vine growers have built stone terraces, known as “pezoules” in order to facilitate the cultivation and to maximize the absorbance of rainwater.
Cool, refreshing winds from the north called, “meltemia,” blanket blow the island during the summer, decreasing the temperature dramatically at night. This helps maintain the already bright acidity that native wine varieties inherently possess. These revitalizing winds also keep the vines from becoming infected with Botrytis and mildew, which greatly reduces the need to treat the vines.
The vines are not irrigated artificially and the rainfall is rare. Therefore the plants’ watering is dependent on the natural humidity and the sea mist; absorbed by the volcanic soil, they offer the necessary hydration.
Today, the vineyard of Santorini consists of aprox. 1200 hectares of family owned vineyards, which – in their unique geographical conditions and cultivation techniques – comprise part of Greece’s intangible cultural heritage.
PDO SANTORINI wines are known for their crisp acidity, intense minerality and distinctive saltiness in the palette, all volcanic origin characteristics that have deservedly given them a foremost place in the wine lists of the best restaurants both in the United States of America and Canada.
PDO Santorini wines include the single variety Assyrtiko, Santorini Nykteri -Assyrtiko blended with the aromatic Athiri and the delicate Aidani and Vinsanto, the noteworthy, naturally sweet wine from sun-dried grapes produced exclusively in Santorini. The dominant white grape variety originating from the island is Assyrtiko, one of the finest white grapes in Europe.
70% of the vineyards of Santorini are made up from Assyrtiko.
The worldwide famous Santorini wines, all sharing and imprinting the unique characteristics of their volcanic origin, combine high acidity with intense, crispy minerality in the mouth. They are vibrant and full-bodied, with citrus aromas. PDO Santorini wines have great aging potential in oak or in the bottle, where they become more complex as the notes of oak, tea, toasted nuts and honey become more pronounced.