Crete, Raising the Glass

Crete is the largest island in Greece and is also the second largest wine producing region in the country. There are over 60 wineries.

As one of the most significant wine making regions, Crete has been an instrumental  part of the new Greek wine movement. With numerous native grape varieties, a size that makes it the most important island in Greece in terms of wine production, a very unique landscape as well as being an extremely popular tourist destination, Crete is a driving force towards the progression of its country’s wine culture.  

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 varieties 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

Some of the wineries to look out for that are taking Crete’s wine production to a higher level are as follows: Douloufakis Winery, Alexakis Winery, Iliana Malihin Vineyards, Dourakis Winery, Paterianakis Winery, Lyrarakis Winery, and many more.