The volcanic island of Santorini is one of the southernmost in the Cyclades archipelago and among the most famous in Greece. Growing vines has been a long-standing activity and it has successfully survived the competition for hotel-land as well as the extreme viticultural conditions (volcanic eruptions, severe summer drought, hot weather, dry, ferocious winds)
In this unforgiving viticultural environment, vines are pushed to their limits, struggling to produce even 2 tonnes per hectare. This also results to an extraordinary definition of flavours in the fruit.
Asyrtiko, the standout Greek white grape, planted throughout Greece including Macedonia and Attica, is at home here with a magnificent combination of body, steely minerality and high acidity. It works extremely well in its own, but it also lends itself to blends with the more mellow and fruity Athiri and Aidani grapes.
Assirtiko wines are bone-dry, showing citrus aromas intermixed with an earthy, mineral aftertaste that reflects the volcanic soil of Santorini.
Vinsanto or Vissanto
Vissanto, produced since Byzantine times, is a local sweet wine speciality, made from sun-dried Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri grapes. Mature examples are half-way between Oloroso and Tawny Port. Less sweet, more youthful versions from a combination of raisined and and un-raisined grapes, or from grapes that have undergone less sun drying, show peach flavors and a lingering aftertaste of wildflower honey, supported by mouthwatering acidity.
Although the island didn't have a reputation for red wine, the red cultivars of Mandilaria (20% of vineyard area) and the oak-aged Mavrotragano (of the Mataro-Mourvedre lineage) have now gained recognition in the Greek wine-making scene.
A rare examples of sweet wine (Madeira-style) from sun-dried grapes is also produced by the local Mavrathiro.
Santorini is home to several pioneering boutique wineries. Certain of these have propelled the local industry to achieving modernization, innovation and international recognition; Sigalas, Hatzidakis, Argiros, Antoniou and Heliopoulos are some of the premium quality producers.