Wine Tour in Santorini: What to Know
Besides the idyllic landscape, spellbinding sunsets, crystalline waters, impressive volcanic shores, and beautiful natural scenery, Santorini is also famous for its award-winning wines. Indeed, the island’s gastronomy is deeply infused with the unique flavours and aromas of the local wines, with its viticulture roots running back to the ancient times. No wonder wine tasting in Santorini is in such high demand every year.
What is quite exciting about a wine tour in Santorini is that it is usually complemented by local dishes, such as fava and other treats (or even a full meal). That way, you get to visit the best wineries in Santorini, sample palate-caressing and internationally acclaimed wines, and give your appetite the pleasure of Santorini signature dishes and Greek cuisine.
The Secret Behind the Uniqueness of Santorini Wines
Many people wonder what makes the wines produced in the volcanic land of the island so special. Everything feels as if perfectly combined (and being in total harmony) with one another – the fantastic colour; the distinguishing flavour; the spice taste. And, considering the adverse conditions the vines grow in (i.e., lack of rainfall, little-to-no-organic material, etc.), one can understand how remarkable and even miraculous the production of local wines really is.
According to wine experts, the very natural phenomenon that almost destroyed the island in its entirety in about 1,600 BC left the Queen of the Cyclades with solidified lava, volcanic sand, volcanic ash, and pumice stone – a dynamic mixture that enriched the soils with essential minerals. These also give the ground high acidity and a naturally low PH level, a combination that gives the wines their characteristic savoury tangs.
Many things seem to be working in favour of the island, given that, for many wine producers, the meltemi winds (strong northern winds that blow in the Cyclades complex) are cool and utterly revitalising and help not only keep the acidity of the vine cultures at its optimal levels, but also make the soil an inhospitable environment for diseases that affect the vines.
Another admirable fact that you’ll probably also get from a visit to a Santorini winery has to do with how the soil here gets the needed water. The land has become very porous after the massive volcanic eruption of the past, which allows the water from the very scarce rainfalls to be absorbed quickly. Furthermore, the still active volcano is the reason behind a refreshing (for the soils) night fog. Finally, the salty spray from the sea mist gives the grapes a pleasing character.
Wine Tour in Santorini – Key Facts
The best wine-tasting adventure is the one that will tick all of your boxes, regarding taste, exclusive experiences, and wine-making-related knowledge. In fact, the more you know about how the local wines are produced, the more you appreciate what they generously offer to your taste buds. For instance, the cultivation technique practised here is found nowhere else in the world. Extremely experienced local pruning teams train the vine canes into continuous circles that form a basket-like wreath (called Kouloura) that protects the vine from the harsh summer sun and the strong winds and traps the moisture from the sea mist. Incredible, to say the least!
Other interesting facts you’ll learn through a wine tour in Santorini:
- The most vine-infesting insect is phylloxera, which decimated most of the vine roots in Europe in the 2000s. It did not affect the Santorini vines, though, as the volcanic soil did not favour its spread.
- The most famous local wine is Assyrtiko (dry, red wine) followed by PDO-awarded Vinsanto (dessert, sweet wine). However, over 50 grape varieties grow on the island!
- Part of the architecture of some of the best wineries in Santorini are subterranean arched cellars, which the locals call Kanaves.
- Cold cuts and local cheese are the most commonly offered delights accompanying a wine tasting venture in Santorini.
- Try to opt for a tour that includes visits to multiple local wineries.
- Please book your tour early as the wine-making and tasting endeavours here are filled up very quickly.
- For the most part, you can visit a Santorini winery from May to October.
Choosing the Best Wine Tour in Santorini
First of all, let us note that you can certainly visit the island’s wineries on your own. A wine-tasting venture, though, will enable you to visit smaller, harder-to-find wineries while enjoying pickup and drop off services, which make navigating around the island’s morphology much easier. Other than that, though, it is not wise to drink and then drive.
That being said, you can choose among many different types of wine-tasting and making tours, from a small-group to a completely private experience. To make this endeavour even more thrilling, you could opt for a sunset wine tour in Santorini and soak up the heart-stopping sunset views the island is so beloved for and, at the same time, pamper yourself with appetising wines.
What to expect from a wine tour:
- A small one usually lasts a few hours (usually 3-5 hours) and visits the two most famous local wineries, Venetsanos and Santo Winery, which both enjoy superb Caldera views. However, it would be a mere understatement to say that these are the only ones worth visiting.
- A private tour caresses the senses of the most delectable wine connoisseurs, who appreciate attention to detail and intimacy. It is a superb idea for a couple or even solo wine lovers and typically lasts several hours, depending on the itinerary and overall type of experience provided/required.
- A sunset adventure typically comes with pristine vistas of the caldera, the countryside, or the calm Aegean Sea. Most options start in the afternoon, guide you through the island’s best wineries, and end just in time to catch the last glorious rays of the sun and feel absolutely flabbergasted!
- Whether you are welcomed with a fully laid table or snacks depends on the tour you have selected. The majority of wineries, though, offer a lavish culinary experience that also includes wine experts sharing small secrets and details about the wines you’ll be served to sample.
The Best Santorini Wineries
It’s nearly impossible to distinguish the local wineries and create a “Best Of” list, given that each local business is run by exceptionally passionate people, usually family members, who are second or third generation winemakers. Their wines are also equally delicious and flavoursome. So, the following list will help give you a “compass” as to where to start! Feel free to explore your options, though, Chances are you’ll find many more ways to enhance this fun and entertaining adventure that is sprinkled with a touch of magic as you lay eyes on ravishing views not easily seen in any other part of the world.
So, besides Venetsanos (Megalochori region) and Santo Wines (Pyrgos area), you could include a stop at Gavalas Winery (Megalochori village) and Domain Sigalas (Oia village). Of course, do not omit Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum (Vothonas area), which offers an unbeatable wine-tasting and wine-museum experience, as it hosts a 300-metre long underground cellar that serves as a wine museum presenting the history of the Santorini vine growers and the winemaking industry since the 1600s. An equally stunning mix of art, caves, and wine is provided by Art Space Winery (Exo Gonia village).
Renowned for its cosmopolitan allure, Santorini manages to bottle all its authenticity, allowing visitors to savour a centuries-old wine-making tradition. Whether you plan to visit the local wineries or prefer to share a romantic dinner for two at your deluxe suite or villa or the privately owned Kivotos Hotel beach with local tastes and local wines from our wide collection, it’ll definitely be worth it!