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Winemaking Regions
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winemaking regions - aegean islands

The Aegean islands have an important winemaking tradition that dates back to the Neolithic age. Having developed a strong shipping network, our Aegean ancestors traded their wines throughout the known ancient world. The moderate Mediterranean climate of the Aegean combined with the rocky, volcanic soil, plentiful sunshine and constant sea breezes provide excellent conditions for the cultivation of grapes.

Island of Rhodes
Rhodes, legendary island of the knights, was one of the first areas in ancient Greece known for the production of wine. Rhodes enjoys the longest periods of sunshine and the shortest periods of rainfall in all of Greece, favorable factors in the production of the high quality AOC Rhodos wines. The dominant grapes are the white Athiri and the red Mandelaria, (known locally as Amorgiano), which produce elegant white and red AOC Rhodos wines. A sweet AOC wine from Muscat grapes is also made in Rhodes.

The label of Cair has become the synonym of Greek Natural Sparkling Wine of Quality. It is made according to the French "champenoise" method used for the champagne - that is the method of secondary fermentation in the bottle - which was discovered by the French monk Dom Perignon in the 17th century, in Cair's underground controlled temperature cellars.

Made out of athiri, coming from selected mountain vines, it is fermented and matured during 18 whole months in low temperature to develop rich sparkles which last and give great pleasure. Its quality has been honoured twice, by gold medals including the "olympic medal" awarded by the International Wine & Spirit Competition to the collectors' Cair Rosé 10 years old.

Emery S.A.
Emery SA now run by the third generation of Triantafillou family, built a modern winery in the village of Embona. The vineyards are cultivated on the northwesterly slopes of Mount Attaviros renowned for the quality of their Athiri and Amorgiano grapes.

Island of Crete
The winemaking tradition of Crete dates back almost 4000 years ago to the celebrated Minoan Civilization. In fact it was on Crete near the village of Archanes that the oldest wine press in the world was discovered.The vineyards of Crete are planted on the northern part of the island, protected from the warm African winds by the mountains that crisscross the island from east to west. The unique Cretan ecosystem provides the ideal environment for the production of the AOC Archanes, Peza, Dafnes and Sitia wines in addition to several well made vins-de-pays.The most popular grapes are Vilana, Kotsifali, Mandelaria and Liatico as well as Chardonnay, Syrah and the hard to find Plyto, Dafni and Thrapsathiri varieties.

Boutari - Fantaxometocho Estate
Not far from the famous archaeological site of Knossos, near the village of Skalani, lies the Fantaxometocho Estate ("haunted cottage"), the most southern of the Boutari estate vineyards. The clay and limestone soils, exceptional Cretan climate and close proximity to the sea combine to bring out the finest qualities of the indigenous and international grape varieties cultivated on the estate. The estate’s new cutting edge winery is one of the most modern in Europe producing wines worthy of the island’s ancient wine-making tradition.

Creta Olympias Winery
Creta Olympias S.A. is the most dynamic commercial enterprise in Crete engaged in the production, bottling and selling of bottled quality wines.

While still maintaining a respect for history and tradition, yet keeping a watchful eye on international developments and advances in the wine world, Creta Olympias' over-riding philosophy and principal concern has been to turn the spotlight on Cretan varieties of grape, both white and red, and to take full advantage of Greece's potential in the wine production sector.

Douloufakis Winery
The tradition and history of Douloufakis Family in vineyard cultivation and production started in 1930 when the grandfather Dimitris Douloufakis fist established the professional wine production in old traditional premises.

In 1952 Douloufakis Family participated in the 17th International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki and was awarded a title for the quality of its products.

Nowadays the vineyard cultivation and wine-production tradition of the Family is continued by the grandson Nikolas Douloufakis. Having studied Oinology in Italy (Alba Intituto Agrario-Spezialitato in Diviticultura e Enologia) he has proceeded to the renewing of the wine premises (E.C. Grant:Executive Program for Industry, Ε.Π.ΒΙ., 1996) and to the production of superior quality wines from his own vine-yards.

Island of Santorini
On the breathtaking island of Santorini, the production of wine dates back to the time of the Bronze Age. After the devastating volcanic explosion, circa 1650 BC, the island was covered with volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone. This catastrophe created the foundation for perfect soil conditions which now produce very distinctive wines. The vines are cultivated in low basket shaped crowns, close to the ground for protection from the strong winds. Coming off the sea, the nocturnal fog brings needed water to the vines during the hot summer nights and together with the refreshing northerly winds provide excellent growing conditions for the creation of the superb AOC Santorini wines.

Boutari - Fantaxometocho Estate
In the countryside south of Heraklion, just outside of the village of Skalani, on the road towards Myrtia (birthplace of the famous Greek writer Kazantzakis), lies the southernmost of the Boutari estate vineyards.

Sigalas Winery
Located in the town of Oia, famous for its captivating sunsets, Paris Sigala’s winery was built in the traditional architectural style and color of the Cyclades Islands. Sigalas, known for his involvement with the restoration of the historic Santorini vineyards, also practices organic farming and gives special incentives to farmers that are willing to grow their grapes organically.

Gaia Wines
Gaia was founded in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos with a commitment to producing quality wine from the unique indigenous grapes of their native Greece. Both owners have degrees in agronomy from the University of Thessaloniki and Paraskevopoulos also received a Ph.D in Oenology from the University of Bordeaux II. The first wine they produced in 1994 was the AOC Santorini wine, Thalassitis that has become one of their signature wines. Their first vintage yielded less than 10,000 bottles, but as its popularity has grown the production of Thalassitis, made from the noble Assyrtiko grape, now exceeds 100,000 bottles a year.

Santorini wine making

The ancient civilization of Santorini was completely destroyed by a catastrophic volcanic explosion that occurred somewhere between 1620-1640, BC. With every trace of life gone, all that remained was covered with volcanic ash; lava and pumice stone, which eventually lead to the creation of a compact soil, called aspa. It was in Santorini that Archeologists discovered the ancient village of Acrotiri, the oldest and best-preserved bronze-age village in Europe. The archeologists unearthed a great deal of evidence here that indicated the existance of viniculture and winemaking as far back as the Bronze Age. They found carbonized grape seeds, drawings that included evidence of vine cultivation and winemaking as well as numerous amphoras that were used to store the wine. Ironincally, it was the aspa created from the volcanic lava that preserved this ancient era in Greek Civilization for future generations to study.

The porous volcanic soil of Santorini allows the earth to retain water, giving the vineyards the ability to stay nourished during the high summer temperatures. During the hot Greek summer, rains are extremely rare and the only source of water for the vineyards is the nocturnal fogs. After the evening sun sets the island becomes enveloped in a fog that comes in from the sea. The vines are able to retain the water they need from this evening fog and use it during the warm daylight hours when it is needed most. Santorini was also one of the rare wine making areas in the world not attacked by phylloxera, because of the high content of sand found in volcanic soil. Because of their resistance to phylloxera, most of the picturesque vineyards that cover the island are more than 100 years old and retain their original root stocks.

Every trace of life on this enchanting island is found on the top of an impressive rock. The winds saturate the island throughout the year. The only way for the grapes to survive from the direct exposure of sun and strong winds is to be protected inside low-basket-shaped vines, the ampelies, as they are called locally. The refreshing northerly winds that blow from July to September, known as the meltemia, also help keep the vines from developing the numerous fungi that can result from the combination of summer heat and humidity.

The different wines of Santorini owe their special qualities to the unique geology of Santorini. The soil is rich in inorganic ingredients, but very poor in organic ingredients. Unfortunately, the older age of most of the vineyards, as well as the strong winds that blow year round, seriously reduce the volume of wine crop that can be grown. In addition, the highly developed and much more profitable tourist industry has driven many of the farmers to abandon their vineyards and become involved with tourism. It may be in the years to come that we will only be able to find the most hardy and passionate of farmers that are dedicated to their vineyards and are willing to continue the tradition.


Assyrtiko is probably Greece’s finest multi-purpose white grape variety. It was first cultivated on the island of Santorini, where it has developed a unique character. It has the ability to preserve its acidity while keeping a high alcoholic content. Assyrtiko gives a bone-dry wine that has citrus aromas mixed with the characteristic earthy flavors that the volcanic soil of Santorini provides It ends with a pleasantly mineral aftertaste. The last 25 years Assyrtiko was replanted at an area near Thessaloniki and from there many other winemaking regions of Greece have begun to plant the grape. Away from Santorini, assyrtiko expresses a milder and more fruity character with less earth and mineral hints.

It is resistant to humid conditions, most common vine diseases and is easily adapted to the different microclimates across the land. Assyrtiko, though, can easily become oxidized due to the high phenol concentration of the grape skins.

In Santorini, Assytiko is the predominant variety that qualifies for the production of the wines with the Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality: Santorini. It can also make excellent barrel fermented dry white wines. Assyrtiko can also be used together with the aromatic aidani grape for the production of the unique, naturally sweet wines called VINSANTO -(wine from SANTOrini)-. Vinsanto is made from the traditional method of letting the grapes dry under the sun for 10 days to concentrate their juice. These sundried grapes are referred to locally as Liasta. The wine is kept in barrels for many years and develops a wonderful color and bouquet that carries you away with hints of chocolate, coffee, butter, honey, and flowers.


Athiri is one of the most ancient of Greek grape varieties. The name of the grape gets its name from Thira, which is the other name for Santorini. In ancient times Athiri was known for the production of sweet wines. The grapes mature early, have a thin skin and give sweet and juicy fruit that are qualities especially in demand for the production of sweet wines. It produces wines slightly aromatic, having medium alcoholic content with low acidity. Athiri has been replanted in several other regions of Greece, with the variety being especially popular in the Rhodes, Macedonia and the Islands of the Cyclades.


Aidani is another ancient Greek grape variety. We find it only in the Islands of the Cyclades, especially on the island of Santorini, Naxos and Paros. It produces wines pleasantly aromatic with medium alcoholic content and acidity. It can be successfully mixed with grapes having high alcoholic content and acidity such as assyrtiko.



Region Of Aegean Islands

Santorini Island

Rhodes Island

Crete Island

Other Winemaking Regions
Sterea Ellada
Ionian Islands

US Importers
Emery S.A.,
Gaia Wines

Athenee Importers
P.O.Box 2039
Hempstead NY 11551
Tel: 516 5054800

Sigalas Winery
Diamond Importers
528 Wrightwood Rd
Chicago IL 60614
Tel: 773 5496211

Boutari - Fantaxometocho Estate
Paterno Wines International
900 Armour Drive
Lake Bluff IL 60044
Tel: 847 6045781
Fax: 847 6045828

Creta Olympias Winery
Hellas Import Limited
Nikolaos Mastorogiannakis
147 Brook Street, Suite 4,
Brookline, MA. 02445
Tel: 617.926.9292
Fax: 617.926.9090
19-06 42nd Street,
Long Island City, NY 1105
Tel: 646.529.4616
Fax: 718.777.5660

Peloponnese Sterea Ellada Aegean Islands Epirus Ionian Islands Macedonia Thessalia

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