The process of wine-making is fairly easy to describe. However, it is not an equally easy task for the winemaker. Winemaking requires knowledge and skills regarding ploughing a field, pruning vines, harvesting, vinification, analysing grape juices, bottling and storaging; above all, winemaking requires a certain quality known in Greek as meráki, which means putting your soul, creativity, and passion into what you are doing.
Ploughing in Santorini at the beginning of the 20th century.
Vinedressers would plough three times a year to oxygenate the soil and make it fluffy, so that the vines can produce more fruit.
The Santorinian plough was manufactured in such a way that would not go more than 12cm deep. This prevented the vine roots near the surface of the ground from breaking, and helped keep the roots moist which was vital to the lifecycle of the vines, since the island was arid.
The pruning season for vines in Santorini takes place between November and February.
We always leave three or four of the strongest branches intact and three bud-eyes on each branch, which are the points from which the grapes will develop. The branches with bud-eyes are woven into circles to form a basket (Greek kouloúra) where all the bud-eyes can gather together for the grapes to grow and be protected from strong winds.
Harvesting in Santorini usually takes place in mid-August. Due to high temperatures and lack of water, grapes tend to grow faster here than in other areas.
In Santorini, harvesting is a big event celebrated in the fields by numerous harvesters.
In the vineyards, it is common practice to whitewash stones so as to create paths and check that all vineyards have been harvested.
Santorini presents a rather low yield of 400kg in relation to other areas which present yields of 3000 to 5000kg.
A word so easy to say, but so hard to carry out for any winemaker.
Winemaking requires knowledge, but also love and meráki. Winemakers must use their knowledge, raw materials, and modern technology effectively in order to achieve great results worthy of their efforts.
Winemakers must love what they do. They are required to give their best by making effective use of their knowledge, raw materials, and modern technology in order to achieve great results worthy of their efforts. They need to prove to themselves that a year of hard work was not in vain, but that it produced a successful outcome.
Vinification is a process responsible for the aroma, taste, body, colour and duration of a wine. It is the transition phase from grape to wine. It is a ritual. And the wine is a living being; it is born, it grows and it matures. It reveals its personality at every stage, giving you the opportunity to enjoy every single moment. Wine is also like a woman; in the beginning she is petite, restless, fresh, undeveloped yet. Then, adolescence marks her first step towards maturity. As she grows, she becomes sensible; and as she matures, she becomes wiser.
It is not until a winemaker feels the velvety taste, the aroma and the texture of the wine he created that he feels complete.
In our laboratory, we analyse the properties of grape juice and the wine we produce. Our facilities and equipment enable us to run tests and learn more about the hidden secrets of grapes and wine. The laboratory is an important part of any winery.
Here we can standardize our products with the use of the latest technologies in bottling equipment. We put forth our best effort to provide great appearance, excellent condition and aesthetic quality in marketing our products.
Located beneath the winery, the cellar is insulated and equipped with a cooling unit that maintains a constant temperature level of 14º C. It also has a ventilation system to provide fresh air.
High-quality white and dry red wines, as well as the most distinctive wine of Santorini, Vinsanto, are aged here. The aging process takes place in 250lt and 500lt oak barrels made in Greece, France and the USA.
Archaeological excavations at Akrotiri provide evidence that the cultivation of vineyards in Santorini dates back 3.500 years.
What makes the vineyards in Santorini unique is their particular soil. The soil of volcanic origin has a minimum amount of organic matter and is poor in nutrients.
Pumice traps humidity during night time and early morning hours. It functions as a water tank, firstly by storing water and then by distributing the necessary amount of water to the vineyards.
The particular hot and dry climate of the island in combination with the volcanic soil prevents the development of diseases. For instance, phylloxera, an insect that plagues all vineyards on the planet, failed to survive in the climate of Santorini.
It is rich in ash, sulphur, porcelain and iron.
The most popular grape variety is called Assyrtiko. It is largely cultivated in Santorini and can be distinguished from Assyrtiko grown in other parts of Greece, due to its high levels of acidity and alcohol, metallic and earthy aftertaste. Assyrtiko produces wines that are sharp, aggressive and extremely dry.
It is one of the few indigenous European vineyards. The vineyards owned by our winery are located at the areas of Vothonas, Megalochori and Fira.
We continue the tradition of cultivating the vines by using the kouloúra method, namely weaving the branches into baskets.
An ancient technique is used for pruning:
Strong winds in the area tend to scatter pumice all around the island. In order to protect the new buds from the fierce sand blasts, the vine-grower prunes and weaves the branches into a basket in which the grapes will grow.
The vineyards are all arid. In general, yield per stremma (1 stremma=1/10th of a hectare) may amount to 5.000 kg of high quality grapes.
Our winery maintains approximately 100 stremmata (10 hectares) of traditional vineyards. The vineyards are gradually being renewed each year, so that old and weak vines are replaced by young, strong and productive ones.