Family is planning a ~9 day trip to Greece this September… 7 days in Crete and 2 days in Santorini.
I’ve been struggling to put together a top list of wineries and restaurants to hit in the region.
I definitely will be hitting Economou, as I have enjoyed their earthy reds on many a occasion.
But outside of Economou… my Greek game is well… all Greek to me
I’ve tried sorting through online sites (e.g., Wine Searcher) to pull out the highest price reds on Crete… and I can get plenty of $25/bottle, but struggle to get hits for $50+/bottle. I’m OK visiting lower priced wineries of course (I think Greek reds are some of the best values out there), but visiting Crete once… I was hoping to taste some of the best stuff you can’t find in the States.
Any advice would be appreciated! I have only time to visit I think… ~3 wineries in Crete and 1-2 in Santorini… So what are the BEST Greek wineries out there on Crete/Santorini?
Any suggestions for wine/food experiences as well would be appreciated.
I agree with Barry that two days on Santorini aren’t enough and that it is stunningly beautiful. Hatzidakis makes several tank-aged Assyrtikos, including their single vineyard, old vine Assyrtiko de Mylos. My favorites are Sigalas (which does produce a barrel aged Assyrtiko that I don’t like much, but my wife does), Hatzidakis, Argyros, and Gaia. For red wine, seek out Mavrotragano from any of the above producers.
Be sure to stay on the caldera side of the island. Most of the wineries are on the slope.
If you have points, I loved the Blue Palace (Starwood), outside Elounda. Elounda has great inexpensive seafood by the water. Salad, octopus, veggies, carafe of house wine was around $20 for two a few years ago.
While in Santorini, be sure to visit Santo Wines on the caldera at sunset. If you are staying in Fira, rent a moped or better yet a quad (get the bigger engine, trust me), and head out. Its about a 15 minutes ride form the center of town.
The wines are solid, both red and whites to taste, but the views… OH MY, the views are EPIC.
Agios Nikoloas is very nice along with Rethimno. Didn’t make it to wineries on Crete, but in Santorini visited Boutari, Sigalas, and a cooperative that made some nice dessert wines, but name escapes me. Enjoy the islands, going a beautiful time, not so many tourists and the weather will be beautiful.
We also stayed at the Blue Palace on Crete. The thalassotherapy spa there is worth the trip. There are some greats sights on Crete - Souda Bay and Malme for military buffs, Knossos for those that prefer their history a little older, and an amazing monastery right off the National Road that is the most peaceful place I’ve been on the planet. Lots of great, simple food. But we didn’t visit any wineries on Crete.
On Santorini, we had a great tasting at Sigalas. It’s a beautiful place to really slow down. We loved our apartment in Oia.
If you’re taking the ferry from Heraklion to Santorini, be careful boarding the ferry. Luckily my hubby is a big strong guy and was able to throw our luggage in the hold and jump on board as the ferry was pulling away. The ferry leaves on schedule even if all of the baggage isn’t loaded. We felt bad for some older couples who missed the boat trying to wait in line to get their baggage on.
I have some winery and restaurant recommendations for Santorini if interested. We stayed in Oia and absolutely loved it. We stayed at the Oia Mare Villas toward the lower end of the crater so it was a lot of steps up and down every day whenever you left the hotel but it was gorgeous and the exercise did us good.
I’d love some restaurant and winery recommendations re Santorini!
We are staying in Vendema… didn’t book Oia early enough. As of now, I think wine wise we will do the 2HR or evening dinner at Sigalas. I originally thought evening meal, but given everyone’s discussion re views etc., perhaps best to do a 12PM or 4PM wine tasting at Sigalas, followed by dinner in Oia. For the other two I am thinking Hatzidakis and Argyros. It sounds like other wineries have better views, Gaia, Venet Santos… and I’m not much of a whites drinker so Argyros could be swapped out perhaps (and recently got diagnosed as allergic to a brewers yeast often found in whites/ciders/champagnes!). I need to make some decisoins…
That’s all I have right now! Would be happy to hear suggestions.
They took us to Hatzidakis Winery, Gavalas and Sigalas. Gavalas was probably my favorite followed by Hatzidakis. Lots of great white wines (dry and sweet) and some surprisingly solid reds too but the assyrtiko based wines are where its at. Sounds like that may not be ideal for you but there are some good reds to be found. Gavalas had a few reds if I recall correctly.
For dinner, we had fantastic meals at Avocado and this place http://melitinioia.com/ I would certainly go back to either if I was there again. Really quite fresh seafood as to be expected but the other side dishes and vegetables all exceeded expectations as well.
I would also recommend trying to secure a reservation at sunset at Sunsets in Oia. It’s very popular but your hotel may be able to help. They have a rooftop patio with unobscured views of the sunset and serve decent apps and wine. Might be worth checking out.
Lastly we had an amazing experience with this company. Small private tour (I think we were 5 couples total) with wine, beer, freshly cooked meal by the crew (which really exceeded expectations) and just gorgeous views with opportunities to swim, snorkel, jump off a cliff, etc. The color and clarity of the water blew me away.
Melintini is simple, inexpensive, and pretty good. The best items on the menu are the smoked meats, especially pork belly, pork shoulder, and sausages. Book in advance (especially for a large party) and ask to sit on the roof.
The best fish restaurant on the island is found at the northern tip below Oia in Ammoudi Bay. Sunset Taverna. Also book in advance and be sure to order lobster spaghetti for two and fresh fish. FYI, there is very little to no fresh octopus, and absolutely no fresh shrimp and calamari served on Santorini. Go at 8:00 pm and watch the sunset.
I love Santorini, but the simpler the food, the better. Avoid Ambrosia, Roka, Petros, Floga, Thalami and most of the restaurants that advertise (or the hotels advertise) as ‘gourmet.’ They are all horrible.
Also understand that the drive time on the island from Vedema to Oia is at least 40 minutes each way, with traffic. They are building a second road, that isn’t quite open all the way yet.
Finally and tragically, Haridimos Hatzidakis died suddenly several weeks ago. I don’t know whether the Hatzidakis Winery is still open for tours. Call in advance.
Plan on 50-60 minutes to drive from Vedema to Oia. They recently rerouted the roads in and out of Oia so that they are one way and there is a 15 minute detour going to Oia (not from) until they finish the second road that travels the length of the island. It was supposed to be finished when we were on Santorini last year, but the same kilometer at the north end remains unfinished, as we discovered when we arrived today.