Vino Files: Santorini

August is the time for seasonal produce, glasses of ultracrisp Assyrtiko and beachfront tasting rooms on this Greek island.

August reminds us of our three favorite Greek words: ampelography, Assyrtiko and the Aegean. Follow that with sunlight, sand and Santorini, and we are good to go. August is the month to visit Greek wineries as grapes make their journey from vine to vat to bottle. Ampelography, the study of grape vines, comes to mind when we trip over a low lying ampele, a wreath-like Assyrtiko vine, the signature grape of Santorini. Grown in this ancient fashion to trap moisture from the volcanic rock below, the vines are stripped of their fruit, which is vinified into crisp white wine. Wine lovers in the know head to Boutari for the annual release of their Experimental Series, available only at the cellar door. Take some time to enjoy a flight of their wines from around the country paired with mezes, or small Greek plates. It’s not just grape season, it’s tomato season as well; don’t miss the tomatokeftedes, Santorini’s delicious traditional tomato fritters—they’re unforgettable. Besides the citrus-driven Assyrtiko, which is perfect with grilled octopus at a beachside bar, pick up a bottle of Vinsanto, a sweet fortified wine named after the island. Sigalas’ is among the best, and its winery is in clear view of some of the most interesting vineyards you are likely to encounter. You won’t find trellised vines or machine harvesters here—just grapes picked by hand. Be among the first to visit Gaia’s new beachfront tasting room and try the winery’s modern version of the Greek classic, Retsina, made by steeping pine resin in the must. Grab a glass of cold white wine, stride across black volcanic sand and dip your toes in the warm blue Aegean.

Greece's Northern Bounty

Published on July 13, 2011
Topics: Greek Wines, Travel
About the Author
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
Entertaining and Lifestyle Editors

Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen are Wine Enthusiast's Entertaining and Lifestyle Editors. DeSimone tastes wine from Israel and the Mediterranean Basin, while Jenssen tastes wine from Eastern Europe, including the former the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Both co-authored Wines of California, Wines of the Southern Hemisphere, and The Fire Island Cookbook. Wine educators and presenters, both gentlemen serve as frequent guests on national and local television. Email:

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