As part of my Greek Odyssey to Santorini I was very keen to try some of the local wine produced on the island. The unique volcanic soil means that the wine is totally one of kind and there’s nothing else quite like it in the world!
Thanks to luxury tour operators Classic Collection Holidays we were booked in for an experience at one of Santorini’s best wineries as part of our stay at Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa (read my hotel review here and my dining experiences here). The Domaine Sigalas winery is about a ten minute drive from our hotel – though everything in Santorini is a short drive as the island is only 12 kilometres wide!
Founded in 1991, it’s still a relatively new winery as the cultivation of grapes in Santorini dates back to antiquity and wine exportation is a centuries old tradition on the island. In fact the vineyards in Santorini are the oldest in the Mediterranean and the wines produced on the island are highly acclaimed by critics.
At Domaine Sigalas there is a huge respect for this long tradition of wine making but it is coupled with modern methods and state of the art technology to produce utterly outstanding wines.
We started with a walk through the vines where Domaine Sigalas grows Assytiko, a grape indigenous to the island with a strong mineral taste acquired from the volcanic soil. In lesser quantities they also cultivate indigenous white varieties Aidani, Athiri and red Mandilaria, Mavrotragano. The combination of volcanic ash, sand and pumice create this totally unique terroir that retains water and allows the vines to still be nourished during hot and dry summers.
The climate also contributes to the quality of the wine; the nocturnal fog from the sea brings water to the vines during summer and brisk northerly winds provide perfect conditions for growth.
Now it was time for my favourite bit, the all important taste test!
As soon as we tasted the Aidani white wine, we could really pick out the mineral flavours described by our guide. For me those fruity dry flavours are everything I like in a wine and flavour of the signature Assrtiko grape was like tasting the island itself – the aromas were pure bliss!
I will seriously be ordering this wine again and every sip will transport me back to this beautiful island!
As well as delicious wines, Domaine Sigalas has a beautifully scenic location, ideal for chilling out and enjoying that cool Santorini breeze on your skin.
Another of my favourites was the Kavalieros which was refreshingly acidic with that same signature minerality and citrus aroma.
Pairing perfectly with that sweet Santorinian tomato, cheese, meat and crisp rusks.
Just look at that beautiful golden hue.
We were also told about a special cultivation technique used in Santorini called the ‘koulara’ method whereby vines are woven into circles to form a basket which protects them from extreme weather conditions.
Finally we tried a sweet red wine, it’s a less typical wine for the island but delicious and would pair perfectly with cheese, fruits and chocolate.
After finishing our wine tasting it was time to explore! Our hotel was located only five minutes walk from Oia, renowned to be the most beautiful village in Santorini and the perfect spot for catching the famous sunset. Fira is the capital of Santorini and also a place of spectacular beauty perfect for admiring the caldera, shopping, restaurants and museums.
Our short time in Santorini meant we didn’t make it Fira but I absolutely fell in love with Oia with it’s cobbled streets, pink flowers and white brick walls.
In the exclusive village of Oia, you’ll find all sorts of fabulous shopping – everything from souvenirs, jewellery and leather goods all the way up to high end designer clothing stores. A paradise for lovers of retail therapy!
One thing you’ll hear about Santorini is that it can get very crowded during the summer months. I think we were lucky being there mid-June and located in the slighter quieter village of Oia as we didn’t find those idyllic cobbled paths to be too over run with other tourists.
One thing I will warn you about though is to bring fairly sensible shoes as the path ways are steep and in some places lots of stairs.
Researching other blogs and guidebooks had led me hear about a restaurant called Roka – a little bolt hole that’s nothing special from the outside but serves the most sensational food… we located Roka and it looked to be permanently closed but not to be too disappointed we found another lovely spot called Karma.
Isn’t it just gorgeous?
We ordered a Greek salad with the most juicy tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, olives and onion heaped up on a plate. One of my all time favourite dishes…along with a steaming bowl of mussels bathed in ouzo scented tomatoes and toped with crumbly feta.
A whole sea bream with grilled vegetables, spaghetti and seafood and a delicious glass of Greek white wine. I seriously couldn’t think of a better spread. I would highly recommend Karma, and though those winding streets of Santorini are a little complex to navigate, it’s fairly well sign posted and google maps should get you there.
Now grateful for those lofty hills as the perfect way to work off our lunch, we continued our walk in search of the perfect Instagram spots.
Heading higher and higher, I finally caught a glimpse of that incredible Caldera view…
Have you ever seen a beautiful view so many times in photographs that when you finally see it for your own eyes it’s even better? Houses and hotels like little white boxes, those iconic blue domed churches, infinity pools jutting out against the rocks, the jagged cliff top and the sheer drop down to the glittering Aegean Sea. Of course, I’d planned appropriately and wore this beautiful blue and white dress from Kate Spade.
And on the other side I saw windmills peeping up on the rocks and the occasional colourful building contrasting with that sea of white.
One of the best places to catch that view is from the Castle (otherwise known as Kasteli of Agios Nikolaos) which dates back to the 15th century. You may find it a little crowded especially at sunset but it’s definitely worth catching the view from the picturesque surrounding of the castle ruins.
Before going back to the hotel, I was keen to seek out one final Santorini hot spot…
Lolia’s Gelato came highly recommended by several bloggers – and hugs are free and the ice cream is just the best!!
I got a heaped cone of stracciatella and chocolate sorbet – a combo I loved so much that I went back the next day for more!!
Yes, it really wasn’t hard to fall in love with Santorini!
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This post is sponsored by Classic Collection Holidays but thoughts, opinions, photos and new-found love of Santorini is my own.