No matter your destination while you’re on Santorini, you’re bound to see at least one vineyard. Unless you know that Santorini is known for its wine, you might not be able to tell that these are grape plants at all. Due to the high winds on Santorini, the grape vines are grown using a technique called koulara. Koulara trains the grapes to grow in a circular fashion and stay low to the ground to avoid damage (1). The Minoan eruption, the most recent caldera forming eruption, deposited volcanic rocks, ash, and pumice all around the island of Santorini. Little did the violent volcano know that it would be providing Santorini with its distinct wine!
Food has always been a source of happiness and comfort for me and it’s a main component of why I want to travel. Since arriving at the port of Athinos in Santorini I have had so much delicious food. I’ve eaten everything from street food gyros, to tomato basil seafood risotto, to traditional moussaka. After experiencing all the amazing food Santorini has to offer, I asked myself why the does the food here taste so much better than back home? Then I remembered I was standing on a volcano.
Evidence of wine production in Santorini dates back to 3500 B.C., but it was not until after the Caldera-forming Minoan eruption 20 centuries later that gave the island it’s unique environmental and geological characteristics that make the wine cultivation so unique. The rich soil that fuels over 10% of the island’s economy is known as “Aspa”, which is mainly composed of the porous volcanic rock called pumice, along with the volcanic ash from this explosive eruption.(1) The lack of clay in the soil make Santorini one of the few areas in the world not affected by the devastating Phylloxera pest, who depends on a high clay content to survive. Without the volcanic/tectonic influence on Santorini’s soil, wine cultivation on this Mediterranean island would have never made it through the 19th century. (3)
There is money to be found in the lay of Santorini’s land. For over 4000 years, Santorini has prided itself on the production of a wine that is unique due to its’ harvesting circumstances. In order to generate income to sustain a stable economy, Santorini traded with many different countries: including France and Egypt. The wineries were not the only sources of wine on the island though, as every home contained a wine press. This enabled individuals to produce wine for themselves and excess to sell to the wineries to supplement income for Santorini.
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