View from a Santorini Winery
When we travel to wineries and wine regions, it seems we never have enough time for me to take pictures. Joe gets bored waiting for me and ends up spending most of his time talking to our travel companions. For me, taking the pictures is as tasting the wine for others. There is something magical about looking through a lens, seeing something interesting or beautiful, and capturing it to share with others. While we try as best we can to describe the wines we taste, you can’t really share our experience unless you taste the wines yourself. Words and pictures cannot begin to prepare you for the breathtaking beauty and authenticity of Santorini, its wines and its wineries. But I wanted to post picture from each of the wineries or tasting rooms to help share my experience.
The top picture is from Canava Roussos. Canava means winery, and Canava Roussos was established in 1836, making it the oldest winery on the island. The outdoor tasting room is surrounded by bougainvillea, and within the older winery there are artifacts hanging on the walls. Canava Roussos invites visitors to participate in the crushing of the grapes. We saw pictures of bikini-clad tourists who seemed to be dancing as much as crushing.
The first winery we visited was Estate Argyros. Established in 1903 by Georgios Argyros, the winery is now under the helm of great-grandson Matthew, Jr. This press is in the older of the two buildings that we visited, and tasted a series of Vinsanto vintages including one 40-years old. We posts a review of Estate Argyros 2008 Assyrtiko a few months back in Our Big Fat Greek Draft Day.
One of our morning winery visits was to san…torini winery. There we tasted their Santorini, Nykteri and Vinsanto as well as a refreshing rose called TerraNera. This front patio area leads to the tasting room.
At Gavalas Winery eight-year old barrels are used for the Vinsanto, to make sure there is no oak taste. They use some very large Russian barrels for fermentation so more oxygen can get into the wine. The grapes for Vinsanto are dried, so juice is pressed from raisins, rather than just harvested grapes. We also visited the 300-year old juice room at the winery.
Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, Santorini wineries produced Vinsanto for communion in the Russian Orthodox churches. After the rise of communism in 1917, all shipments of Vinsanto to Russia stopped. We’re glad they are still making it at Gavalas Winery today. We brought a couple bottles home with us.
The largest winery we visited on the island is that of SantoWines. The Union of Santorini Cooperatives is the biggest producer in Santorini, and was established in 1947 to support the local producers. They are obligated to accept all the grapes from their members, have a 3000 ton capacity and produce 500,000 bottles annually. Here are just a few thousand of them lined up in the winery.
We visited the Santorini division of Boutari Wineries. With six locations in Greece, the company’s seventh winery is located in Southern France, in the wine region of Languedoc.
The winemaker we met at Boutari is the wife of SantoWines winemaker. Boutari’s Santorini is one of the first Greek wines we tried prior to visiting Greece.
In addition to a large and airy tasting room, Boutari’s Santorini location has a large theatre used in the off season for public movie showings.
Koutsoyannopoulos Winery sits atop an underground museum. Seventy percent of all the artifacts in the museum are from the Koutsoyannopolos Family, with thirty-percent from the surrounding community.
The labyrinth-like cave is 300 meters long and covers the history of the Santorini winemaking from 1660 to 1970. We met with fourth generation owner George Koutsoyannopolos, who took us on a tour of the museum. These pots light some of the darker hallways of the cave.
These boats are just outside Gaia Winery. Founded in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Parakevopoulous, Gaia owns two wineries. The larger is located in Nemea, and the second on Santorini. Gaia is the last winery we visited on the island.
We visited Hatzidakis Winery where we were treated to fresh island tomatoes that are grown in between the grape vines. We entered a chilly underground cave full of dusty bottles. But there was nothing dusty about the wine. We really enjoyed the Nykteri.
Nykteri refers to the process of the late harvest and crushing the grapes at night, in cooler temperatures. We also tasted a Mavrotragano that reminded me of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Since these grapes make up less than 2% of the vineyard, very few wines are bottled, and they are only available in Greece.
When we first arrived on the island, and after a little nap, we visited Oia. There we enjoyed appetizers and a bottle of Sigalas Santorini with Constance, social media and PR extraordinaire for the Brand Action Team. This was the view from the outdoor taverna overlooking the caldera.
We walked in the chalky soil of Domain Sigalas vineyard with Mr. Paris Sigalas, while oenologist Xara explained the soil and growing conditions of the vines. Afterward we returned to that tasting room to sample a number of wines. We then moved out to the patio for some Vinsanto with a full view of the sunset. Sunset watching is a regular occurrence on Santorini, and a busload of visitors arrived to do just that as we were tasting the wines.
I have included just one picture from each winery we visited. We have many more that we’ll probably include in future posts.