One of the best-known wine producing regions in Greece (and one of the best-known regions in Greece in general) is Santorini. We asked Kavita Faiella, sommelier and consultant at Voyageur Selections, to tell us what she knows about this beautiful island.
1. Santorini is an island located in the Aegean Sea
Greece has 6000 islands scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian Seas…of which only 227 are inhabited.
2. The ancient name for Santorini is Thera.
There are indications that wine has been produced on the island for over 3500 years!
3. Santorini is a volcanic island that is still active…
In 1630 BC the volcano on the island erupted, revealing its core – the caldera. The whole island was covered ash and pumice 40 meters deep!
4. The soil of Santorini is made up of the same volcanic pumice you use to scrub your feet with in the shower!
Kind of gross… but actually really important. The island is super dry, so when it rains the pumice acts like a sponge soaking up all of the moisture and slowly releases it back to the vines when they need it throughout the year.
5. In winter, Santorini is CRAZY windy.
The winter winds that hit the island are so strong that the grape vines are trained in small baskets rather than the usual rows you might be accustomed to seeing in other wine regions.
6. On the island of Santorini vines are grown in Koulores (rings) or Kakthia (baskets).
A traditional training technique that protects the vines from strong winds in the winter and intense sunlight in the summer. The upper part of the vine is usually replaced every 15-20 years, but the roots below the ground can be centuries old! It’s the only place in the world where vines are grown like this.
7. The three main white grape varieties of Santorini all start with A.
Assyrtiko, Aidani, Athiri
8. Assyrtiko is the most planted variety in Santorini and arguably the most well known Greek grape.
It makes super delicious wine. The first planting of Assyrtiko outside of Greece can be found here in Australia’s own Clare Valley.
9. They also make sweet wine in Santorini – Vinsanto (Vino di Santorini)
Produced from sun-dried grapes that bake over summer – just like the tourists visiting the island!