Tasting Greek Wine on a Santorini Wine Tour

Wine tasting tour in Santorini, Greece with Santorini Wine Adventures
Wine tasting tour in Santorini, Greece with Santorini Wine Adventures

We’ve been wine tasting in many different countries. You’d think in all that time we’d have seen it all when it comes to wine production. But not in Santorini, Greece! We were taken by surprise on our Santorini wine tour when we learned of a unique wine-growing technique that we’d never seen before, called koulara, where the grapes are grown in a low-to-the-ground basket style that protects the grapes from strong winds and allows it to soak up what little water is available from the porous volcanic soil.

I highly recommend a day tour with Santorini Wine Adventure Tours while you’re visiting Santorini. Not only will you learn about this ancient growing technique that has been protecting and allowing the grapes to grown on Santorini island for many decades, you’ll also be introduced to the island’s flagship grape, Assyrtiko, and have the opportunity to try many of the top wines produced on the island.

We even met 3 other couples from the U.S. who we had a really great time with along the way.

Wine Tasting in Santorini Greece

Our wine tour group - a bunch of really fun people!
Our wine tour group – a bunch of really fun people!

The first thing we did on our tour was learn about the fascinating growing technique. We first noticed these interesting-looking vines when we were driven to our hotel in an airport shuttle. The driver pointed out what looked like weeds alongside the road and said they were the vines that produced the bulk on Santorini’s wine production. We thought for sure we’d heard him wrong. The basket growing style is certainly unique.

The koulara method of growing grapes close to the ground
The koulara method of growing grapes close to the ground (Photo by Savored Journeys)

The vines are grown very close to the ground in a basket style to protect the grapes and give them every chance to survive in the mostly dead soil they live in. This technique is known as koulara.

The Assrytiko grape makes up almost 70% of the vineyards of Santorini. It is a strong, bold white grape used in many single-varietal and blended wines in Santorini, and unique to the island. We learned a lot about it on our wine tour, which took us to 3 different wineries, thanks to our incredibly knowledgeable guide, Evan. Usually the guide on these type of tours doesn’t have a wine education, but all of these guides have extensive wine educations.

Boutari's wine tasting room
Boutari’s wine tasting room

Our first stop, at Boutari, was also our favorite. The winery has a fantastic set up for wine tasting. They’d set up a beautiful table for our group with a tasting sheet, glasses and the bottles of wine we were trying. Evan explained all of wines as we tasted them, and showed us how to expertly taste the wine, which can sometimes be boring, but Evan made it fun for everyone, and we all learned a lot about identifying what we were tasting and smelling.

Our tour guide, Evan, explaining the wine pressing process
Our tour guide, Evan, explaining the wine pressing process

Our second stop was at Gavalas, a traditional family winery. They still have a traditional grape-stomping cellar where they still maintain the ceremony of stomping the grapes with family and neighbors. Of course, they mostly use more modern methods these days to make their wine.

The third stop was at Artemis Karamolegos family winery. We all loved the wine here, along with the lovely plate of cheese, meat and snacks they’d prepared for us.

Artemis Winery prepared a lovely plate of snacks to go with our wine tasting (Photo by Savored Journeys)
Artemis Winery prepared a lovely plate of snacks to go with our wine tasting (Photo by Savored Journeys)

Each winery allowed us to taste (at least) three of their top wines, that are typically made by all of the wineries in the area: Assyrtiko, Nykteri and Vinsanto. Each was very unique to the winery, though after a few tastes, we began to taste the similarities of the grapes in each.

Boutari's lineup of the typical wines in the Santorini
Boutari’s lineup of the typical wines in the Santorini (Photo by Savored Journeys)

I can’t recommend this tour enough. It was a really fun time and a great way to get more familiar with the grapes and wines of Santorini. We had a really fun time with the other couples in the van, and we all loved Evan.

You can book a tour online. They have both day and evening sunset tours, so you can choose which fits your schedule the best. If you do the sunset tour, the last winery changes to a winery with a great sunset view. I found while booking the tour that it was less expensive than other tours given in Santorini, and the caliper of the guides makes it the best value tour around.

Also check out this guide to 48-hours in Santorini to decide what to do with the rest of your time on the island.

If you’re going to be in Athens while in Greece, also check out the fantastic food tour we had with Greeking.me.

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Tasting Greek Wine on a Santorini Wine Tour

21 thoughts on “Tasting Greek Wine on a Santorini Wine Tour

    • Laura Lynch says:

      The sunset tour would be pretty awesome. Many of the wineries in the area have great views for the sunset.

  1. Valerie says:

    I had no idea there are wineries in Santorini! I had never heard of the koulara method, it’s absolutely fascinating. I love how adaptable and creative people can be. Whenever I make it to beautiful Santorini I will have to keep this in mind!

  2. Danielle says:

    Mmm I loveee wine tastings – you’re making me so jealous just by reading this! Looks truly amazing, and I will definitely come back to this article when I find myself in the area!

  3. Ray says:

    I never did get a chance to visit any of the wineries on Santorini, and now I am regretting it more than ever after reading this. What an interesting way of adapting to the harsh volcanic soil on the island to produce grapes for the wine. There’s no doubt in my mind that I will make a return trip to Santorini one day. Will definitely have to check this out upon my return. BTW, which of the wines were your favourite on this tour?

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Ray, I particularly loved the Mavrotragano red wines, but the Assyrtiko was fun because it tasted and smelled a bit different at each winery.

  4. Natalie Deduck says:

    What a great tour!
    On our last trip to Santorini I noticed how the grape plantation was different on the island but didn’t know what was the reason. Now the mystery solved! Thanks for taking us in this tasty journey.

  5. Julie says:

    Exploring the wine of a region is one of my favorite ways to see a new place. I have such fond (and sometimes foggy) memories of wine regions all over the world. Santorini sounds like such an interesting addition…if only to see those crazy vines, and hear about their techniques for dealing with the high winds.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      It was one of our favorite activities on Santorini, but then we love wine! Cool to see new techniques we didn’t know about too!

  6. chrysoula says:

    I have been to Santorini many times and I love their wine. I have also visited a couple of wineries but not the ones you mentioned. I would love to do this wine tour when I get back seems so informative and fun!

  7. Arzo Travels says:

    Though I do not drink alcohol I think it is super interesting to learn more about it. Never thought of wine tasting in Santorini 🙂

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Of course it’s probably more fun to actually try the wine on these tours, I do think non-drinkers would still enjoy the scenery and learning a bit about the grapes.

  8. Megan says:

    This is exactly what I like to do when I travel. Good food, people. views and wine. Hope to make it to Santorini some day so I can give it a try.

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