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Crete & Santorini

Crete & Santorini

Santorini, with its iconic blue-domed churches, shimmering seas, and awe-inspiring sunsets, is a paradise for romantic getaways and honeymooners. The island is renowned for its striking volcanic landscape, with black-sand beaches and towering cliffs that plunge dramatically into the sea.

On the other hand Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, offers a more diverse range of attractions. From the ruins of ancient civilisations and charming old towns to sprawling beaches and towering mountains, Crete’s allure is its variety and richness.

Main Regions

The zone of PGI Crete, established in 1989, comprises the four districts of the island: Lasithi, Heraklion, Rethymnon, and Chania, with the highest concentration of vineyards south of Heraklion and encompass indigenous grapes spanning Vidiano, Vilana, Moschato Spinas, Plytó, Liatiko, Mandilaria, and Kotsifali.

Ironically, Santorini’s vineyards count among the oldest under continuous cultivation in the world, according to wine scholars, though consumption of the island’s famous white wine made from the indigenous Assyrtiko grape largely occurred on domestic soil until recently.

Main Grapes

The main grape variety used in the production of PDO Dafnes wine is the red grape variety Liatiko, which is known for its rich, full-bodied flavor and deep red color. The wine is also often blended with other grape varieties such as Kotsifali and Mandilari. PDO Dafnes wine known for its rich, complex flavors which often feature notes of ripe fruit, spices, and herbs.

Some of the most popular Santorini PDO wines include the dry white wines made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes, as well as blends that may also include Athiri and Aidani grape varieties. The island also produces some dessert wines, such as the Vinsanto, which is made from sun-dried grapes and aged in oak barrels for several years before bottling.

Terroir & Climate

In Santorini, ungrafted Assyrtiko vines remain some of the last in the world untouched by phylloxera. Vine roots grow deep into the volcanic soil seeking minerals and nutrients as deep as 120 feet. Above ground, arid conditions and harsh wind have led growers to weave vines into baskets called koulouras that sit low on the ground. Consequently, grapes must be hand-harvested.

Crete has a warm climate but the majority of planting is above 500m, which helps to cool the vines and preserve a little acidity. Dry sandy soil kept phylloxera at bay until the 1970s and there are still many ungrafted vines. Irrigation is common.

Fun Fact

The legendary island of Atlantis was mentioned by Plato (the Greek philosopher) in two of his writings, but the whereabouts or possible existence has always been disputed. But many believe that this island was Santorini, having disappeared after the volcanic eruption. The similarities between the lost village of Akrotiri in Santorini and Atlantis might make you a believer…!

Past Tours to Crete & Santorini

Take sun-kissed Greek islands and add some stunning wines. And you get our incredible wine tour to the islands of Crete and Santorini. We stayed in the gorgeous town of Chania, the bustling city of Heraklion and the hilltop village of Pyrgos on Santorini. We sampled some outstanding wines in Crete from local and international grape varieties. When in Greece, eat delicious Greek food and enjoy warm Greek hospitality. And we did both in abundance. We also learnt about the Minonan civilisation at Knossos and Akrotiri. It’s a tour to be summed up in one word: perfection.

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