Oenotourisme Monde - La route des vins de Santorin et ses vignes tout-terrain - Les Grappes

The Santorini Wine Route and its off-road vineyards

Difficult to make wine on a volcanic island? Not at all! The Greeks are not short of resources and it has been going on for 3500 years. The result: all-terrain vines and organic wines by nature. With all this, it's getting easier and easier to be convinced to fly to Santorini...

Santorini, a little gem of the Cyclades

From the famous Caldeira, the landscapes are simply breathtaking. Whitewashed houses and alleys, chapels with blue domes dominating the cliffs and the sparkling Aegean Sea below, picturesque villages, large black sand beaches.

Less than four hours flight from Paris, Santorini is the southernmost island of the Cyclades archipelago. It is the myth of Atlantis, an unavoidable destination for travellers wishing to discover Greece. But tourism is not the only economic resource of this small island of only 76 square kilometres, with its 12,000 permanent inhabitants.

Megalohori, © Jean-Marie (Evaneos)

More than 1,000 hectares of vines colour the arid and volcanic landscapes, producing a renowned wine, the making of which began about 3,500 years before our era.

The Assyrtiko, a unique indigenous grape variety, is indeed one of the oldest in the history of viticulture, with some vines dating back several hundred years. It has been classified as a Protected Designation of Origin.

A dry and slightly fruity white wine is produced here, its characteristics are unique and reflect local production constraints. Water stress, strong wind and intense sunshine result in a very low yield. In addition to these peculiarities, the low clay content of the soil makes it almost impossible for phylloxera to develop, making Santorini wines a virtually organic product by nature.

A particular form of vineyard plan

When walking through the vineyards, it is striking to note the particular shape of the vine shoots. Uninitiated travellers sometimes think they are abandoned, observing a pile of leaves and shoots seemingly growing wild on the ground. Outside the work of the vine in Santorini is very meticulous. The trunk of each plant is made year after year in the shape of a hoop, in a small hollow at ground level, braiding the shoots. Because of this configuration, the bunches growing inside this ball of leaves are better sheltered from the sun and strong winds. In addition, the volcanic soil of Santorini is composed in part of tiny particles of pumice stone. The water from the infrequent rains, but also from the dew caused by high humidity in spring, is thus better captured and gradually released, which naturally irrigates the Santorini vine.

Vines of Santorini, © Jean-Marie (Evaneos)

Recently, local winegrowers have been trying to redevelop a very old native grape variety, Mavrotragano, producing an intense red wine with undisputed keeping qualities. Another more accessible red wine is produced with Mandilaria, a grape variety found on several islands of the Cyclades.

In our next article, we'll tell you about Vinsanto!

Evaneos (for Les Grappes)

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