Viticultural activities on Santorini island date back before the island’s volcanic explosion around 1500 B.C. The vines are 40-60 years οld. The average yield is 2500-3500 kg/ha. The most striking feature of the island’s vineyards is the way the vines are cultivated. The vineyards lie close to the ground, pruned in a shape of basket to protect the grapes, which grow in the center of the basket. The vines absorb and maintain humidity from the dense night fog. With this cultivation method, called Kouloura, the grapes are protected from the intense sunlight of the summer and the fierce winds of the Aegean sea that blow throughout the year. The cultivation method of the vineyards on Santorini island is unique in the world!
A unique Teroir
Santorini is famous for its white dry wines and its sun-dried dessert wines. The main grape variety grown in Santorini is Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko is a white wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. It is considered one of the noblest varieties of the Mediterranean region. Assyrtiko grapes are cultivated in some of the world΄s oldest vineyards dating back to 3500 years. Assyrtiko is widely planted in the arid volcanic-ash-rich soils of Santorini and occupies 80% of the total area of Santorini’s vineyard. The other two major indigenous white varieties of the island are: Athiri and Aidani.
Santorini has an ideal Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry summers and limited rainfall. Winds blow at a great speed through the year. The winds are very beneficial not only for lowering temperatures and allowing slower ripening of the grapes but also for protecting the grapes from rot and diseases. The soil is sandy of volcanic nature, and it is covered with scoria rocks, lava, and pumice stone. The winds, in combination with the low rainfall, the volcanic soils, and the Mediterranean climate contribute to Santorini’s unique ecosystem.