In Crete there is a great wine making tradition that dates back several millennia since the Minoan era. This wine tradition continued in classical Greek and Roman times, when Crete was known to be exporting wine to Rome. This great tradition certainly owes to the very friendly climate to the vine; plenty of sunshine and hilly/mountainous terrain ideal for growing vineyards. Moderate consumption of wine has some proven health benefits as it contains a lot of antioxidants and is shown to protect against strokes and cardiovascular disease. This certainly strengthens the immune system of Cretans resulting in better health and improved life span.
Crete produces a multitude of wines. These are mainly based on ancient native grape varieties such as “liatiko”, “kotsifali” or “madilari” (red grapes) and “vilana”, “vidiano” or Malvasia di Candia (white grapes). In addition to these, a lot of international varieties are also used, both in combination with native Cretan grapes or as self-standing. Such varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc (white) or Sangiovese. Nowadays, modern wine making techniques are used by most wineries and the outcome is production of wines of international standards that cause great pleasure.
Apart from larger scale professional wineries, there is hardly no Cretan family without a family member being active in wine making. Possessing a vineyard is something very common and the necessary skills for vine cultivation, harvesting and wine making are passed down from generation to generation. Usually such production is limited and covers the family needs for the year as well as the needs of the famous Cretan hospitality! This is also a very common discussion topic, e.g., how good the grape yield and wine year was and how “our” wine compares to that of other families. When you are invited to a Cretan house, wine will be certainly offered as accompaniment to the traditionally big meal offered to guests.