George Venetsanos founded his Santorini winery in 1947. George was a university-trained enologist and he was the first in the island to use modern wine making equipment. Since no electricity was available in the island, the winery was excavated vertically inside the volcanic rock, exploiting gravity as energy source. The winery was at the volcano’s caldera crest and wine was flowing with pipes more than 300m down, to be loaded in the ships anchored in the port of Athinios. The wine was exported to France, Russia and Egypt where the Venetsanos family had successful business activities.
The wine production tradition was passed from generation to generation, together with George’s valuable notebook where he diligently recorded his observations about wine production, from year to year. Since then, many harvests have passed and, since 2015, the winery owned by the Zorzos family, descendants of Venetsanos. The winery and its facilities are a hot spot for visitors who enjoy a glass of world class Assyrtiko while looking at the stunning views of the caldera.
Today, the winery is using state of the art technology but there is one thing which didn’t change and this is Santorini’s vineyard. The systematic cultivation of wine in Santorini is documented since 1200 BC, which is 3200 years ago. Since then, the vineyards have been replanted many times, but due to their unique volcanic soil and the Aegean climate they have never been affected by the phylloxera pest. Therefore, American root stocks were never used in the indigenous Assyrtiko vine, contrary to what happened in the other traditional European vineyards, of France, Italy, Spain and mainland Greece. Therefore, Santorini is believed to be Europe’s most ancient vineyard, continuously cultivated with indigenous vines and is proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site. All this result in one of the most unique wine terroirs in the world.