Wine making on Santorini has a tradition of more than 5.000 years, dating as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C. The excavations in Akrotiri village, one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean, revealed findings like burnt vines or decorations of grapes on ancient pottery, thus proving that vine cultivation was very popular at that time on the island.
Santorini takes great pride in the grape varieties that are grown on the island, as they are indigenous and they have not been mixed with varieties like Cabernet or Sauvignon that can also be found in the mainland of Greece. Furthermore, the dark volcanic soil, rich in minerals and other elements, along with the distinctive microclimate of the island, contribute to the exceptional characteristics of the Santorinian grapes. Since 1971, Santorini, has been approved as a region that produces APPELLATION OF ORIGIN SANTORINI OF SUPERIOR QUALITY wines.
Santorini is mostly renowned for its white wines which constitute 80% of the viticultural region of the island, as well as the naturally sweet, dessert wines that are produced from sun-dried grapes. In total, more than 10 grape varieties flourish on the dry land of Santorini, with ASSYRTIKO being the most popular white grape variety that is cultivated and also the greatest in quantities (80% of the total vineyards). Assyrtiko is popular for its full body and special aroma, either on its own or in combination with ATHIRI and AIDANI (two other indigenous white grape varieties).
In smaller quantities, wine producers on the island cultivate the red grape varieties of MANDILARIA, VOUDOMATO and MAVROTRAGANO, all of which give excellent red wines, both dry and sweet, and they also allow for long aging. Mavrotragano is indigenous to Santorini, but Mandilaria can also be found on other South Aegean islands (Paros, Crete, Rhodes).
VINSANTO and MEZZO
are two types of naturally sweet, dessert wine and they are among the finest dessert wines all over Greece! They are produced from sun-dried Assyrtiko and Aidani grapes. As the sun diminishes the humidity of the grapes, the natural sugar levels rise, thus giving the grapes a natural sweetness. Vinsanto takes its name from the Italian phrase “Vino Santo” which means Holy Wine, the wine used for the Holy Communion. However, this type of wine had been produced long before the Venetians first stepped onto this island, probably under a different name. Mezzo, the other type of dessert wine that is produced on Santorini, means “Middle” or “Medium” in Italian and it is a semi-sweet dessert wine. It is produced following the same procedure, but in this case, the grapes are left to dry under the sun for less time than they do for Vinsanto.
Another distinctive and at the same time, traditional wine of Santorini is BRUSCO. Once more an Italian word is used to name this type of wine, a word which means “Sharp” and refers to a general characteristic of the wine and not to a particular wine. Brusco can be red (made with Mandilaria grapes) or white (made with Assyrtiko grapes) or a mixture of both resulting in a rose wine. As its own name reveals, it is a wine high in alcoholic volume (16% - 17%) and such a property is achieved by allowing the grapes to ferment in their own skin for a long period of time.
All wineries on the island are open to the public for visiting and wine tasting and most of them are ready and willing to ship your wine worldwide, if you don’t want to carry yourselves your own bottles of fine Santorinian wine back home. One of the most important visits during your stay on Santorini should be at the underground Wine Museum of Koutsoyannopoulos, one and only in the whole of Greece, exhibiting original tools and machinery that have been used in wine producing on Santorini for the past four centuries. Furthermore, periodically, wine tasting events are organized at our hotel, giving you the opportunity to taste some of the finest specimens of the local viticulture.