Wine is plentiful throughout the country of Greece. From the Peloponnese peninsula region to Northern Greece, grapes are grown with care and distinction. You can find delightful wines anywhere in Greece, but Santorini wine is unique.
Keep reading to learn what’s so special about Santorini wine and which are the best wineries to visit on the island.
Raise your glass, and let’s get into it!
Where Is Santorini?
Santorini is an island in the Cyclades group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. You can access the island via boat or airplane. The Greek ferry system makes it easy to get to Santorini from Athens and various island ports. Cruise ships also frequent the island’s port. And private sailing vessels can anchor near the island.
It takes approximately an hour to fly from Athens to Santorini’s airport. Ferries vary in time depending on whether you take a fast or slow boat and how many stops it needs to make. But you can get to the island from Piraeus, Athens’ main port, between four and seven hours.
What Is Santorini Known For?
Santorini is known for its horseshoe-shaped land mass formed from a volcanic eruption, leaving a caldera filled with the sea. And for the famous blue church domes that stand out among pastel-colored buildings in the small village of Oia.
In addition, the island is known for its unique wines and beautiful vineyards. Only a few places in the world can grow the grapes you’ll find in Santorini’s vineyards.
What Is Special About Santorini Wine?
On Santorini, grape vines are grown in a basket shape on the island’s volcanic soil. The vineyards face little rain, much wind, salty moisture from the sea, and cool temperatures at night. Due to these conditions, the grapes are protected using the koulara method – weaving the vines into continuous circles.
Assyrtiko is Santorini’s famous white grape that has high acidity. It creates the most memorable wines in the world. Be sure to ask the winemakers you encounter on Santorini for a history of island wine-making. The stories you hear will only enhance the taste and aromas.
Since Assyrtiko grapes require a specific climate and soil, it’s a unique find. One of the other places they’re grown is in Spain’s Canary Islands. Like Santorini, the islands have a similar volcanic ash-rich soil and a windy, hot, dry climate.
Best Santorini Wineries
There are around 18 wineries you can visit in Santorini. I’ll confess, I’ve been to almost all of them. But to help you maximize your time wine tasting on a visit to the island, I’ve identified my four favorite wineries. Each provides a unique experience for visitors, from beautiful views to interesting cave tours.
Hatzidakis Winery has a mysterious underground ambiance. The tasting room and entire operation are in a cave. It creates a fun, vintage feel and is a great place to take small groups. It’s nearby the traditional village of Pyrgos, which is a quiet place to stay off the beaten path.
Take the winemaker up on their offer to give you a tour. They take the time to answer questions and provide an up close and personal look at their process.
My recommended wines at Hatzidakis Winery are the Aidani and the dessert wine.
Venetsanos Winery is aesthetically pleasing. I classify it as one of the most romantic wineries in Santorini. It has a terrace overlooking the caldera and is perfect for a pre-dinner drink.
Be sure also to walk inside to experience the architecture within the caves. It’s a memorable experience and very Instagrammable. Take your time while visiting this winery, as there are a lot of hidden gems to look at throughout the interior.
I recommend taking home a bottle of the Santorini Venetsanos.
Artemis Karamolegos Winery
Artemis Karamolegos Winery gives you a taste of Greek culture at its finest. The outdoor terrace is a great place to relax. If you’re doing a wine tour, stop here midway through to have some food with your tasting.
The winery is close to Kamari Beach. So, if you’re staying in Kamari, it’s easy to get here anytime. Artemis Karamolegos is also right down the road from Santorini Brewing Company if you prefer a beer.
My recommended wine at Artemis Karamolegos is their award-winning, Assyrtiko.
Vassaltis Vineyards has a beautiful modern motif. It’s located on one of the less traveled roads on the island. If you’re going to or coming from Oia, this is a good winery to hit on the way since it’s on the northern half of Santorini.
They also own Vasilicos Caldera Heritage Suites, a hotel and spa. It’s located just north of the village of Fira. And it has epic views of the caldera and Thirassia, a portion of the original island that split off during the volcanic eruption.
The wines I recommend at Vassaltis Vineyards are their reds. And be sure to try one of their delicious cheese platters with your tasting.
Should You Do a Wine Tour on Santorini?
Organized wine tours around the island can be a lot of fun. And they’re a safe way to do multiple tastings on Santorini’s steep and windy roads without having to drive yourself. Most hotels have recommendations for tour operators, or you can get information in any of the villages.
The downside of wine tours is, of course, having to go on a designated route. Hiring a driver is another option. It allows you to determine which wineries you want to visit and for how long. Since most of the wineries offer tours of their facilities and some education on their processes, you don’t need an outside tour guide.
If you decide to take a rental car on your winery tour, be sure not to drink and drive. Greek wines may have a higher alcohol content than what you’re used to in other countries.
Pro Tip: If you purchase bottles of wine to bring home, pack them safely and securely by wrapping them in your clothes and placing them in the center of your suitcase. Be sure to wedge clothes tightly around them on all sides in case your suitcase is dropped on the ground. You’ll need to check this bag since that amount of liquid isn’t allowed in carry-on baggage.
Enjoy the Wine of Santorini
Santorini wine is worth a trip to the island. Even if you’re there for only a day, I recommend trying to get to at least one winery. And while you’re driving through the island, look around and you’ll see acres upon acres of vineyards. It’s a beautiful sight.
Have you had wine from Santorini? What’s your favorite? Leave a comment below.
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