Vineyards and wine have always been central parts of the island’s financial, social and cultural life. High quality wines are produced from grapes of local varieties and they are characterised by the island’s unique ecosystem while combining a high percentage of alcohol with total acidity. The island’s vineyard is ancient with a number of ancient varieties. The findings from the excavations of the prehistoric city of Akrotiri shed light to the vineyards that have existed in the island since the 17th century B.C. The prehistoric vineyard was destroyed after the big volcanic eruption around 1600 B.C. A vineyard was recreated around 1200 B.C. in the volcanic land that was characterised by a new composition. This proves that it dates from 3200 years ago, as it has not stopped being cultivated since then, and it is noticeable that it is the only one in Europe that has not been destroyed by vine louse (phylloxera).
Ιn order to protect plants from severe weather conditions viticulturists used a certain rare pruning technique, the so-called “kouloures”. While pruning the grapevines they form a shape that resembles a low basket, so that the grapes can be protected while they are growing within the vineyard. In Santorini, 80% of the varieties that are cultivated are the ones of white asyrtiko, athiri and aidani along with some other local ones. Among the red varieties, madilaria and mayrotragano are the ones that can be distinguished. The well-known Visanto is produced by the varieties of asyrtiko and aidani which are exposed to sun after the harvest and it becomes mature within wooden barrels.
In the 1970s the “Title of Highest Quality Produced in Santorini” was given by legislation to the white, dry and sweet wines produced in Thera and Therassia by the varieties of asyrtiko, athiri and aidoni. You can find more information about the island’s wineries which are open to visitors in www.santorini.gr.
Local Products. The most typical products produced in the volcanic earth is fava, the delicious dry tomato used in the production of the well-known tomato concentrate, the white aubergine, caper berries, katsouni (a type of courgette), saffron (crocus) and Santorinian chloro cheese.
Recipes. Among the traditional tastes of Santorini, the ones that can stand out are the Jordan almonds (a type of candy offered as treats in weddings), melitinia (a type of sweet cheese pancakes that constitute a traditional Easter desert), fried tomato balls (or pseftokeftedes) ans sfouggato (Aegean omelette that is cooked with potatoes and courgettes).
- 1/4 kg flour
- 2 onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 big tomatoes or preferably 1/4kg Santorinan dry tomatoes
- 2 skinless courgettes
- dill or mint
- salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients and make sure they turn into a dense porridge (add some more flour if needed). Warm the oil in a pan and fry the tomato balls one by one until they become golden-brown.
You can find more recipes and further information about Santorini’s cuisine on the official website of Santorini’s Municipality www.santorini.grt, at the ‘Gastronomy’ section.