Viticulture area: approx. 50,500 hectares In Greece, it is second to the Peloponnese in vineyard acreage
Crete, accounts for 20% of Greek wine production. Crete and wine are synonymous.The island, one of the cradles of civilization, has been making wine for thousands of years. The Minoans--who built a dynasty at Knossos in the third millennium B.C.--made diluted wine their staple drink, "even among the poor and among children", as one historian said.
The enterprising Minoans also shipped wine to the Aegean islands, Asia Minor and the Middle East. Later, when Crete was colonized by the Venetians between 1204 and 1669, the island became even more famous for its sweet Malvasia, which was much coveted by European royalty and commoners alike. Crete's prosperous wine trade was wrecked at the end of the 17th century. Crete regained its independence in 1913 that the island's viticulture was revived.
The emphasis from the 1920s on has been the development of dry wine, made from ancient or traditional varietal plantings, resulting in wines that can be considered truly Cretan. At first, grapes were limited to the red wine varietals of Romeiko from Hania, Kotsifali from Iraklion, Liatiko from Sitia, plus such white varietals as Vilana, Athiri and Ladikino. But in recent years, grapes authorized to be called Cretan have been expanded to include a wide range of other imported varieties, such as Syrah, Mandilaria, Grenache Rouge and Sylvaner.
Crete is unlike any other Greek island. Located between Sicily and Libya, the island is far from the Greek mainland. A small continent in and of itself, at 127 miles long and wide, Crete abounds with wild, towering mountains, broad, teeming plains and large, cities and ports. The island's climate and location ensure ample grape production. Mediterranean temperatures and protective mountains that block the hot Libyan winds, combine to make Crete a world-class producer of quality wines.Download the related content