Crete is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions, with a tradition dating back to the resident Minoan civilization in the Bronze Age (2500 BC-800 BC). Cretan wine (mainly sweet) was popular with ancient Romans and highly valued throughout the medieval era through the 17th century.
In more recent times, the island suffered setbacks when Phylloxera struck in the 1970s—destroying most of its historic vineyards—and in the 1980s, when a law supported extensive new plantings of the white grape Vilana almost exclusively, deterring exploration of more promising varieties like Vidiano, now Crete’s flagship white.
The future is bright. Along with Vidiano, Crete’s spicy red Kotsifali is showing success among international critics and wine drinkers, especially when blended with international varieties such as Syrah and Merlot. A new wave of well-traveled young winemakers are bringing innovation and change to the island, resulting in more terroir-driven and competitive wines from all of the island’s 6 PDO districts (PDO Sitia, PDO Malvasia Sitia–Lasithi, PDO Peza–Heraklion, PDO Archanes–Heraklion, PDO Dafnes–Heraklion PDO Handakas-Candia & Malvasia Handakas-Candia–Heraklion).
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