22 Jan Wine Tasting in Santorini
Wine isn’t the first thing I think of when I envision Santorini. When I think of Santorini, I see the traditional architecture of white buildings cascading down the caldera edge, beaches, and even donkeys, but not wineries. However, much to my surprise, there were once 40 wineries on the island, and today, the number is closer to 10—which is still a large number considering the size of the island. Santorini has made a name for itself in the wine world over the past few years. In fact, wine making in Santorini goes back thousands of years.
After hearing this, I knew we had to experience a wine tasting in Santorini and explore a couple wineries, so I set out to find the best ones. In the end, it was the views from the decks of the SantoWines Winery that won me over, and it quickly rose to the top of our list. We arrived in Santorini with a list of other possible stops for our wine tour, and we ended up settling on the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum simply due to the fact that we saw a sign and decided to pull in.
SantoWines Winery is located at the top of a hill, on the outskirts of Pyrgos village—because it is located in almost the center of the island, the winery offers sweeping views over the caldera.
While we waited for our tour to start, we explored the beautiful property grounds and browsed the gift shop—if it wasn’t for our departing flight that afternoon, I could have sat on that terrace all day!
Once we met our guide, we were pleasantly surprised to find we were the only two people on the tour. The tour started out with an explanation of the island’s climate, how the grapes are grown and a brief history of wine in Santorini. SantoWines is the largest wine producer on the island, and the new winery was built in 1992.
The vines on the island are not the typical vineyards one would expect. Santorini receives very little rain and the ground is mainly volcanic rock, and neither condition is conducive to growing grapes. So, to combat these issues, the vines are carefully cultivated to form an almost basket like vine that stays low to the ground.
We also had the chance to go inside the buildings where the wine is produced. Our guide led us through the entire wine making process all the way from where they receive the grapes to the bottling systems.
After the tour concluded, we watched a video that went further into the history of the wine on the island. Although it was interesting, I would have been fine skipping it to spend more time on the terrace.
Next up was the tasting experience. Long story short, I was a bit confused as to the booking options on the website and ended up ordering way more than we needed. We each ended up with 6 different wine samples and an array of cheese, olives, bread and tomato paste. I almost felt silly with it all sitting on our table! Everything was delicious, and even though we didn’t finish it all, we sat on the terrace for a couple of hours soaking up the views and sampling our wide array of treats.
Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum
Our visit to the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum wasn’t quite as spectacular as our visit to the SantoWines Winery. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, but it was rather a bit strange. The museum is located in a natural cave that winds below the property and there is a bar located upstairs for a wine tasting after you walk through the museum. Koutsoyannopoulos is the last name of the two brothers that started the winery in 1870, and in addition to the museum, the winery is still in operation today.
Upon arrival, you will receive an audio guide to listen to the stories throughout the museum, and when you pass by the various displays, they will activate and come alive to tell the story. Even though I enjoyed learning about how wine has been produced and evolved on the island, I have to admit that I found the displays to be a bit creepy. Maybe it was the fact that we were basically alone in a dimly lit cave with animated displays all around! But, whatever the case, the path and audio track was also a bit longer than either of us could handle.
After all the history we could bear, it was time to head upstairs for the wine tasting portion of the afternoon. That’s when things got much better. The tasting room has a more modern feel than the cave. We were given four different wines to taste, and I have to say that we enjoyed them all.
We ended up visiting two very different wineries and while we enjoyed them both, we would probably skip the museum tour at the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum on our next visit. The winery was great, but only head to the museum if you are an extreme history buff and would enjoy an old-timey automated museum. On the other hand, I would say definitely visit the Santo Winery even if just for the spectacular views overlooking the island. The views from the deck were stunning and the winery is an added bonus!
Have you ever been to any wineries in Santorini or anywhere else in the world? Share your favorite wineries with us below!