Crete is the largest island in Greece and is also the second largest wine producing region in the country. There are over 60 wineries and the majority of them are practicing organic farming and biodynamic production. In the last twenty years, there has been an abundance of discovering thought to be extinct grape varieties that farmers and viti-culturists are bringing back to life. The revitalization of Crete’s wine industry is thriving and progressing immensely.
Crete lies in the heart of the Eastern Mediterranean. Its climate is typically Mediterranean, though not everywhere. Large altitude differences, the steep gradients of the Cretan mountains and the fragmented relief create a mosaic of local microclimates. The island’s orientation, its oblong shape, its high mountains and the fact that it is surrounded by the sea, exposed to strong winds, blowing all year round from every direction, all have a decisive impact on local microclimates. These various microclimates allow the indigenous grape varieties to perform well in those specific areas. And because of these microclimates most wineries are practicing dry farming and the remaining require very little irrigation.
Crete is like a wine ark carrying marvelous indigenous varieties as well as foreign ones which have adapted very well to the local terrain with very positive results. Local white varieties include Vilana, one of the island’s top white wine grapes, Vidiano, Dafni, Thrapsathiri, Malvazia di Candia (Malvazia of Chandakas), Muscat of Spina, and Plyto. Red varieties include Kotsifali, Mantilari, Liatiko, Tsardana and legendary Romeiko. Cretan varietals and blends made of local and foreign varieties (mostly French) are PGI Crete labels.
Cretan vineyards cover 12.8% of Greece’s wine regions and hold the 3rd place among the 9 viticultural areas in the country. The Geographical Indications for Cretan wines are as follows:
PDO Sitia, PDO Malvasia Sitia – Lasithi
PDO Peza – Heraklion
PDO Archanes – Heraklion
PDO Dafnes – Heraklion
PDO Handakas-Candia & Malvasia Handakas-Candia – Heraklion
Here are some selections of wines from Crete that you can explore and have them delivered right to your door.