Drink An Expert’s Guide to the Top Wineries to Visit in Santorini
As Grace Hotel’s Head Chef, I’m blessed to be around so many distinctive, superbly refreshing white wines. They are the products of the island’s rich, centuries-old winemaking tradition. Crisp, minerally and bone-dry, these white wines pair wonderfully with local dishes, from the whole range of mezze spreads and refreshing salads tossed with feta or goat cheese, to lemon-accented fish and seafood dishes. Made primarily from the assyrtiko grape, which is grown on 65 percent of the ungrafted vines on the island, these wines beautifully represent their unique terroir.
Given that Santorini is only 30 square miles, you can easily visit the best wineries in a single sun-soaked afternoon, or spread the tours and tastings on a more leisurely full-day trip. Here’s a tip: don’t expect the usual rows of vineyards. Vines are grown in the traditional “koulara” or “kouloura” method, woven into circles low to the volcanic soil for protection from the sea winds and intense summer sun. Can you think of any other wines whose cultivation methods so strongly reflect their sense of place? I certainly can’t. Visit these wineries to witness it for yourself:
Established in 1879 on Paros, Boutari is known for its monumental role in promoting indigenous grape varieties throughout Greece, and especially in Santorini. It operates one of the oldest wineries on the island, and has been pivotal in introducing modern winemaking techniques and sharing the know-how among locals, many of whom now have their own successful wineries. Boutari Winery Santorini is especially known for its assyrtiko wine, but a huge benefit of visiting this winery is their selection of wines from all over Greece.
Argyros is the most famous “wine” family in Santorini, run by fourth generation winemaker Matthew Argyros. It also has the biggest production on the island, cultivated from 120 hectares of vineyards, some of which represent the oldest vines in Santorini. The winery was recently renovated, and offers a selection of wine tours, or you can craft a custom experience.
Experience the island’s essence at this traditional winery in Oia. Take tours of its decades-old vineyards, most of which grow assyrtiko grapes, and taste its internationally acclaimed wines. While most other Santorini wineries offer mezze and other light snacks to pair with their wines, Sigalas has a seven-course tasting option, prepared with fresh, local produce, some of which come straight from the on-property vegetable garden.
Volcanic Slopes Vineyards One of the most uniquely beautiful wineries on the island, Volcanic Slopes Vineyards (VSV) sits in a traditional underground “canava,” which in the local Santorini dialect describes the place where wines are made and stored. The winery produces only a single wine, Pure, which is made entirely from Assyrtiko grapes, and fermented with the must’s natural yeasts without any intervention. Tasting experiences range from a vertical flight of Pure vintages through the years, Assyrtiko wines from other Santorini producers, and even wines from elsewhere in Greece.