A journey through the oenological treasures of Santorini

A journey through the oenological treasures of Santorini

In the Cyclades archipelago, immersed in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, lies a unique oenological gem: the island of Santorini. With its 1,200 hectares of vineyards scattered across the territory, this enchanting destination not only captivates with its crystalline waters and breathtaking sunsets but also with the richness of its winemaking tradition.

Assyrtiko: Resilience and Character

At the heart of this marvel stands Assyrtiko, a grape variety that dominates the viticultural landscape with its 75%. This precious grape has proven incredibly resilient to the harsh climatic conditions of the island, defying drought, downy mildew, and botrytis. Its versatility allows for the production of a wide range of wines, from full-bodied dry whites aged in steel or oak barrels to sweet dessert wines and lively sparkling wines. What makes this grape even more fascinating is the fact that it persists in its original form in Santorini’s vineyards, without grafting, thus deeply rooting itself in history and the land itself.

The Viticultural Diversity of Santorini: Between Ancient Traditions and New Perspectives

Alongside Assyrtiko, we find other local varieties such as Aidani, Athiri, Mavrotragano, and Mandilaria, each bearing unique characteristics that contribute to the diversity and excellence of the island’s wine offerings.

The Excellence of Santorini PDO: A Mark of Quality and Tradition

In an effort to preserve and valorize this rich heritage, the Santorini Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) was established in 1971, encompassing a wide range of wines, from dry whites to natural sweets. The strict rules of the PDO require that dry whites be primarily produced with Assyrtiko, while sweet wines like Vinsanto must contain at least 51% of this indigenous grape. This certification ensures not only the quality of the products but also the promotion of the local winemaking tradition on an international level.

Kouloura: An Ancient Cultivation Art that Defines the Landscape

But it is not only the selection of grape varieties that makes Santorini’s winemaking unique. Traditional agronomic practices, such as the “kouloura” training system, give a distinctive character to the island’s vineyards. With this ancient technique, vines are trained to grow in a bush-like shape, without the use of stakes, but by intertwining the shoots to form a spiral around the trunk. This not only optimizes the use of water resources but also promotes exceptional exposure to sunlight, contributing to the optimal ripening of the grapes.

SantoWines: Custodians of Tradition and Ambassadors of Quality

At the heart of this extraordinary viticultural heritage lies SantoWines, the Union of Santorini Cooperatives. Founded in 1947, this organization represents over 1,200 active members and is committed to preserving ancient agricultural traditions while promoting sustainable development of local agriculture. Through innovative projects and international collaborations such as the HEVA – Heroes of Europe Volcanic Agriculture project, SantoWines aims to celebrate and disseminate the value of volcanic products, consolidating Santorini’s position as one of the most captivating wine tourism destinations in the world.

In conclusion, exploring Santorini’s vineyards means embarking on a journey through centuries of tradition and innovation, where the breathtaking landscape harmoniously blends with the passion and skill of adept winemakers, offering unforgettable sensory experiences with every sip.

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