Santorini Volcanic Terroir – Exceptional European PDO Products

SANTORINI – The trend of volcanic wines and food products has been growing in recent years, attracting the interest of the world wine and culinary community. The volcanic soil has been widely acclaimed for producing exceptional products, rich in organoleptic characteristics and with distinct flavor.

One of the finest examples of the richness and complexity that comes with the volcanic heritage is the Greek island of Santorini. A world class touristic destination, Santorini’s current form resulted from the eruption of a volcano, which gifted the island with exceptional scenery and unique soil.

The treasures of the island are not a secret – in fact, the three main products of Santorini, wine – tomatoes and fava (a yellow split pea), are protected by the European Union by its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) quality stamp.

Santorini’s tomatoes and fava, a yellow split pea, are protected by the European Union by its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) quality stamp. (Photo: Union of Santorini Cooperatives Santowines)

The wine production dates back thousands of years, approximately to around the 3rd millennium BC and has a fascinating historic continuity. The famous Assyrtiko and Vinsanto wines originate from Santorini and are highly sought after by wine lovers all over the world. Other celebrated volcanic products of Santorini are its tomatoes and fava, a yellow split pea, which are produced in a lower yield due to the changing climate conditions and hence are rarer to find. Fava Santorini PDO contains 20% plant-based protein and is made out of a legume that comes from the plant called ‘Lathyrus Clymenum L.’ which is only cultivated on the island of Santorini. Its production and processing methods have remained unchanged in the last 3,500 years.

Tomataki (small tomatoes) Santorini PDO are one of a kind – very small, with a high concentration of lycopene and vitamin C and with inimitable flavor density. They are available in the USA in the form of canned tomatoes, concentrated pastes, and dips.

Santorini vineyards utilize the ‘kouloura’ method of pruning so that the vines stay close to the ground and form a spiral, a natural basket, that hosts protects the grapes from the strong wind. (Photo: Union of Santorini Cooperatives Santowines)

Unique Manual Production Methods

It takes hard work and dedication by the farmers to cultivate in the black volcanic soil. The crops are not irrigated artificially and rainfall is rare. Therefore the plants’ watering is dependent on the natural humidity and the sea mist; absorbed by the volcanic soil, they offer the necessary hydration.

From pruning to harvesting, everything is done by hand. The vintners have invented a distinct way of pruning, called ‘kouloura’. The vines stay close to the ground and form a spiral, a natural basket that hosts the grapes and protects them from the strong wind. Knit in the shape of a basket, the vines remain low on the ground and safe from the elements. In areas of notable slope, the vine growers have built stone terraces, known as ‘pezoules’ in order to facilitate the cultivation and to maximize the absorbance of rainwater.

A typical salad from Santorini features its unique tomatoes and capers. (Photo: Union of Santorini Cooperatives Santowines)

Cool, refreshing winds from the north called ‘meltemia’ blanket the island during the summer, decreasing the temperature dramatically at night. This helps maintain the already bright acidity that native wine varieties inherently possess.

Today, the vineyards of Santorini consist of approximately 1,200 hectares of family-owned vineyards, which – in their unique geographical conditions and cultivation techniques – comprise part of Greece’s intangible cultural heritage.

The PDO products of Santorini are available in the USA in selected vendors throughout the country.

Find out more at: www.santorinivolcanicterroir.eu.

Follow on Facebook, Instagram: @santorinivolcanicterroir.

The campaign ‘Santorini Volcanic Terroir’ is financed with aid by the European Union and the Union of Santorini Cooperatives Santowines.


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