With a history that spans over 5.000 years, winemaking in Crete is one of the oldest surviving traditions on the island. Omnipresent in the everyday table and special occasions alike, wine is embedded in Cretans’ lives: As an accompaniment to meals, as a welcome to friends and strangers, as a mirth inducing toast at weddings and christenings, but also as a natural medicine for the ailments of body, heart and spirit.
In view of the annual period of the harvest -traditionally a time of celebration and joy, which is inextricably linked to the ancient cult of Dionysus, the god of fertility and wine– here are some interesting facts about Cretan wines, which you’re most welcome to discover at the Adeste Chania luxury villas.
Adeste Chania luxury villas-Cretan Wines A to Z
The Cretan vineyard is the third-largest in the country, accounting for 20% of the total Greek wine produce. It extends over 50.000 acres of fertile land and yields some 95.000 tons every year.
In recent years the emphasis has been placed on bottled wines, as the systematic efforts of a new generation of winemakers managed to salvage -and showcase to the world-a host of antique, almost forgotten, varieties: Nowadays wines made from the indigenous Dafni, Plyto, Melissaki, Malvasia di Candia, Vilana, Vidiano or Muscat of Spinas; and the red Mantilari, Liatiko, and Kotsifali; are gaining international recognition and acclaim amongst foodies and bon vivants.
Bottled aside, almost every Cretan household continues to produce its own wine. With a little help from the friends. During the harvest kin and pals join forces for the grape picking and pressing processes. Their copious labor is rewarded at the end of the day with generous feasting on the house’s best wines and foods.
Cretan wines are indeed right at the heart of the local folklore: This is only normal considering the fact that viticulture on the island dates back to the times of the Minoans. Europe’s first advanced civilization imported this tradition most likely from the Egyptians, with whom they were connected through trade.
Archaeological findings include the Minoan equivalent of a villa rustica dedicated to wine making at Kato Zakros; while a 3.500-year-old -one of the world’s most ancient-wine-press was discovered in Archanes.
The name wine is mentioned in Linear B writings from Knossos; while excavations have uncovered the horn-shaped drinking cups –rhyta– that the Minoans used to drink wine from.
Towards the end of the Minoan civilization the tradition of wine making was passed onto mainland Greece through the Mycenaean conquerors. On the crossroads of East and West, North and South, Crete was ideally positioned to spread the culture of the wine.
Wine trade flourished since Minoan times: Amphorae with Cretan emblems found across the Mediterranean basin, attest to that fact. Yet wine remained an important commercial commodity well into the next centuries.
Crete might have been conquered by the Romans, but Cretan wines conquered Rome. The trademark Cretan sweet wine, protropos, was exported to Italy with great success, during the 2nd century AD.
Cretan wines also made a sensation in Medieval Europe: The sweet Vino di Candia (as the island was called under Venetian domination) was particularly popular in the western and northern parts of the continent.
Commerce and the resulting prosperity came to a halt in the mid 17th century, during the Turkish occupation, when wine production was restricted to family level.
Based on a remarkable 5,000-year tradition, modern winemaking on Crete began in the 1970s. Today, the island hosts four PDO appellations: Peza, Arhanes, Dafnes and Sitia. These are complemented by six more-generic regional appellations: Chania, Rethymno, Lasithi, Kissamos, Heraklion and Crete. Made with love -and by now, the highest scientific know how- Cretan wines have won international accolade. In fact, they are amongst Greece’s most delectable ambassadors.
Wine tastings at the Adeste Chania Luxury Villas
A premium Chania luxury villas complex, the Adeste blends the advantages of holidaying in a gorgeous private residence with the royal treatment expected from a 5* hotel. This simply means that we are dead set on curating unique, immersive experiences for our guests through our highly personalized, concierge services. After all, apart from mere opulence that money can buy, it is the hands on encounters that make a world of difference.
So if reading about Cretan wines got your appetite whetted why not see for yourselves what winemaking is really all about with a visit to one of the wineries in Chania? You’ll also learn how to pair food and wine like a pro and that’s not to mention savor delectable local delicacies along with some rare gems from the Cretan vineyard. You may even combine wine tasting with a tour to striking, unreachable by normal car landscapes, with a Jeep safari. Then again, if you are in staycation mode -which is quite understandable at the Adeste Chania luxury villas, thanks to their signature mix of mesmerizing vistas, superior aesthetics and indulgent amenities- we can put together a private, in house wine tasting next to your gleaming pool, for you and yours only. Choices are vast, varied and fully customized. Just let us know your heart’s desire!