Oct 16 2007

Searching for Santorini Vineyards

Published by at 8:30 am under Greece,Santorini

We had planned to check out Santorini’s black sand beaches yesterday, but upon waking up, we were slightly discouraged to find that the weather had suddenly shifted from tropical/balmy to arctic/hurricane. This was our first encounter with Greece’s legendary westerly wind, known to all locals as “Meltemi.” When Meltemi strikes, he does so without warning, and we’re currently studying the sacred local art of planting your feet to avoid being blown into the volcano. Since there’s usually no point to reasoning with Meltemi, we decided to instead spend the day checking out some of Santorini’s vineyards.

Walking to KamariOne interesting factoid about Santorini is that its roads don’t have names. This makes finding any destination on the island a true adventure. Even the guidebooks are able to offer no more help when describing an attraction’s location than: “near [insert town].” The only thing to do was to hop a bus to the first town near a vineyard, called Megalohori, and proceed to walk around the island until we saw anything resembling a vineyard.

The first promising sight was a homemade roadside sign marking “winery roads,” complete with colorful pictures of grapes. Upon further inspection, I would suggest to the town of Megalahori that “winery roads” be re-named to “ditch that goes around the back of a shed, then immediately dead-ends at a closed garage.” Needless to say, our journey down “winery roads” was a short one.

Santorini wine tastingFortunately, we found success further on the outskirts of town. Here was Antoniou Winery, which is built right into the sheer cliffside overlooking the distant port below. In years past, this strategic location allowed the winery to pipe wine down the cliff to the docked merchant ships. The pipes are no longer in use, but we explored the winery’s subterranean catacombs, and enjoyed a wine tasting on a patio overlooking the mighty caldera.

We left Antoniou, and soon found a second vineyard a short distance down the road: Santo Wines. However, our timing was poor, as we seemed to arrive right in the middle of a union meeting out front. We squeezed through the crowd to enter the visitors’ lobby, and found that the winery tours were cancelled for the day. Much like “winery roads,” we found ourselves leaving soon after we arrived, but not before purchasing some moderately overpriced mini-bottles of dry white wine.

The next stop on our wine tour was only an inch or so away on our map, so once again we set off on foot. What I hadn’t considered was that one inch on our map = several kilometers, and the circular patterns on the map between us and the next winery = mountain. And this explains why it was sunset when we finally arrived at what had now become our final destination of the day: Art Space Winery.

Santorini Art SpaceThe Art Space is actually a series of caverns, which are used to both display art, and produce and sell wine. We arrived right around closing time, but the proprietor was kind enough to walk us through the cave gallery anyway, which turned out to be beautiful. I never actually learned the proprietor’s name, so let’s just call him “Wade.” Wade became increasingly jovial and talkative as the tour progressed, and by the end, he insisted that we come try his many different varieties of wine. We tasted the difference between vintage years of his reds and whites, but the highlight was a drink he introduced as “rain water.” He thought for a moment, then added that we might know it as “moonshine.” The rain water tasted more like fire water to me, but I still had no idea what we were in for…

After taking our shots, Wade informed us that our sample had been distilled one time, and he mischievously asked if we’d like to try rain water distilled two times. We couldn’t really turn that down, so 2x distilled rain water went down the hatch. My review: ouch. Now Wade had a big grin on his face, and he pulled a third bottle from the shelf. This, he told us, was rain water distilled FIVE times. Brittany and I looked at each other, but the decision had already been made for us. We looked back to see Wade laughing and filling our shot glasses once more. I don’t know that there’s a way to describe what 5x distilled rain water is like. My throat burned, my eyes watered, and the taste lingers cruelly. After we completed his challenge, Wade gleefully added that 5x distilled rain water is 86% alcohol. Or, 172 proof. I said, “that ain’t legal in the States, brotha!” Or, I might have, if my vocal chords had been operational.

Thankfully, you don’t need a voicebox to wave down a passing bus, so we made it back home to Fira safe and sound. We live to fight Meltemi (assuredly) and rain water (hopefully not) another day.

NEXT: Kamari Beach + Liars, Jerks, and Thieves »



4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Searching for Santorini Vineyards”

  1. TonTonon 17 Oct 2007 at 3:52 pm

    raki kicks rain water’s butt!

  2. Stellaon 17 Oct 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Stella kicks TonTon’s butt.

  3. Nastyon 17 Oct 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Go, Stella!!!

  4. Antonis Argiroson 25 May 2008 at 5:12 am

    Dear Ben,
    I am very pleased to know that from your visit in Santorini the experience you had in my place was the “srtongest” one that you remember it with details.
    But not quite, since you forget that I didn’t charge you either for entrance or the wine tasting.
    The photographs you took from the Art gallery are very nice. If you would like to have more informaton about our activities for 2008 please get into my new web sight. I hope you will be able to visit us soon again.
    With my best Regards
    Antonis Argiros

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