For many people, wine is considered one of the strongest experiences in life. The island of Crete is one of those places in Greece where you will taste memorable wines that will offer new thrills to your palate. “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man…” is what our ancestors used to say and this place is the right one to prove it true! If you’re interested in wine tourism or agritourism, the options you have are many indeed.
Here you will find the oldest wine-producing area in continuous use on the European continent. You can also visit many wineries mostly in Chania and Heraklion, where you will get to know the varieties of the Cretan terrain, the special local gastronomy and – let’s not forget – the outstanding Cretan hospitality! Besides, wine is part of the daily life and culture of the island. It is always served with a meal or dinner and drinking is enjoyed in company as Cretans never drink alone. They prefer to do it while chatting, laughing and enjoying local food!
A story from the old times
Did you know… Crete boasts a wine tradition that is 4000 years old! Archaeological finds of the oldest vineyard in Europe, unearthed in the area of Kato Zakro, attest to the above. The oldest wine-press was discovered in nearby Archanes, aged over 3500 years.
The island’s long periods of glorious history have always included wine as a product inextricably linked to daily life, and participation to viniculture events and wine festivals is part of a centuries-old tradition that has lived on to our times; only today tradition and love for wine-making is aided by accumulated knowledge and technology. This is the way that Cretan wine is made today and you will be able to taste the high quality local labels during your stay on the island. Viticulture takes place with the utmost care in carefully selected areas, making the most of the earth’s nutrients in conjunction with local climate.
Cretan earth opens up new horizons that wine lovers are sure to appreciate to the full! Favourable soil features and climate conditions help grow outstanding grape varieties from which wonderful wines are produced. Try them as an accompaniment to local dishes which are world famous for their variety of healthy ingredients. The new generation of Cretan Wines stands as a fine complement to the well-known local gastronomy, and they will definitely turn this aspect of your trip into a delight for the palate.
Cretan Wine Routes
Great wines begin in the vineyard! In Crete, wine-producing areas are in the north part of the island and grapevines grow next to olive groves, protected from the warm winds of the Libyan Sea in the south. The cool Aegean winds blow over the Sea of Crete and the island’s north shores, creating the ideal weather conditions for producing top quality Cretan wines. Grapevines have grown here for centuries, along with the wine-making process, enveloped in tradition and local customs present in daily life, gastronomy and local hospitality. Taste each wine’s nose and enjoy memorable trips to those green vineyards where it all began. Try old as well as new labels in well-tended local wineries and enjoy the sweet sense of euphoria in the magic world of wine.
Crete is like a wine ark carrying marvellous indigenous varieties as well as foreign ones which have adapted very well to the local terrain with very positive results. Local white varieties include Vilana, one of the island’s top white wine grapes, Vidiano, Dafni, Thrapsathiri, Malvazia di Candia (Malvazia of Chandakas), Muscat of Spina, and Plyto. Red varieties include Kotsifali, Mantilari, Liatiko, Tsardana and legendary Romeiko. Cretan varietals and blends made of local and foreign varieties (mostly French) are PGI Crete labels.
Visit the island’s wineries, allow yourselves to be seduced by the intoxicating aromas coming from oak barrels, and enjoy the local special grapevine products. Cretan wine-makers have furthered the old traditional ways complementing them with knowledge acquired by new developments, taking consumers’ preferences into consideration. Oenologists test varieties, experiment and come up with new aromas and flavours, in order to create choice wines to suit every palate!
To get more information on Cretan varieties, click here
Did you know…Cretan vineyards cover 12.8% of Greece’s wine regions and hold the 3rd place among the 9 viticultural areas in the country. The Geographical Indications for Cretan wines are as follows: