Oenophiles, Take Note: Santorini’s Complex Wines and Vineyard Views Will InspireBy Jessica Bateman
Santorini is famous for its blue-and-white domed buildings and spectacular sunsets. But as well as those Insta-worthy vistas, this striking Greek island is also an excellent destination for wine fanatics.
Santorini’s stunning cliffs and mountains are formed from layers of ancient volcanic rock, and the complexity of this soil creates the perfect environment for growing unusual grape varieties, such as the island’s native assyrtiko — a sharp, citrusy white.
There are a number of wineries on Santorini, some of which boast amazing views and also serve delicious food. If you fancy a break from the beach, take a trip and sample some of the mouth-watering wines that have been produced here since ancient times.
The island’s best-known wineries are located around the center of the island, south of the main town, Thera. To reach them, you’ll drive past whitewashed houses and sea views before arriving at Santo, which has been in operation since 1947. In addition to sampling the delicious assyrtikos and rosés, you can enjoy spectacular views over Santorini’s caldera and purchase fresh local produce from the on-site deli.
Less than half a mile down the road is Venetsanos, Santorini’s first industrial winery and one of its most famous. The dramatic arched building, which is carved into the side of the rocks, was designed to use energy efficiently at a time when electricity was scarce. It shares stunning caldera views with Santo, complete with a picturesque sunset terrace bar.
Head east to the village of Pyrgos Kallistis and stop at Hatzidakis winery. Founder Haridimos Hatzidakis revived this previously abandoned vineyard in the late 1990s, and the wines produced here — which are considered some of the best on the island — are mostly organic.
If you really want to submerge yourself in Santorini wine culture, travel northwest to the Koutsoyannopoulos wine museum near Vothonos. Situated in a labyrinth of caves below ground, it aims to teach visitors all about life as a vine grower on the island throughout the centuries. At the end, you can sample four wines made in the Koutsoyannopoulos family’s on-site winery.
For a more unusual experience, check out ArtSpace in Exo Gonia. An art gallery housed in the carved pumice rock chambers of a centuries-old winery, it also contains a modern, fully functioning winery that produces four different whites — three dry and one dessert.
The vine roots at Gaia are thought to be an astonishing 400 to 500 years old. That doesn’t mean they can’t keep up with the modern world, though.
This winery, which is nestled inside an old tomato-canning factory on the beach, uses high-tech equipment to get the most out of the island’s native grapes, and the assyrtiko produced here is renowned all over the world.
Enjoy a drink on the porch looking out over the waves; then take home a bottle of its rare assyrtiko vinegar along with your alcohol haul.
If you feel like getting off the beaten track, head toward the northernmost point of the island and enjoy a luxurious evening at Domaine Sigalas. All the tables at this winery and gourmet restaurant overlook the vineyards and are perfectly placed for guests to enjoy those spectacular Santorini sunsets.
The tasting tour consists of 10 different wines paired with local produce, including fava beans, white eggplant, and cured cheese and meats.
Sip, Savor and Stay
Wine lovers might consider a stay at Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini. The resort takes its name from the word “harvest”, and houses ancient wine cellars, including a 400-year-old cellar that now houses the restaurant Alati, where its possible to enjoy many of the island’s wines.