A gorgeous sunset over Oia, Santorini
A gorgeous sunset over Oia, Santorini

Wine Tours

Crete and Santorini

Be seduced by whitewashed buildings set against a clear blue sky as you enjoy the best in Greek wine and discover ancient archaeology.

As the oldest wine-making nation in Europe, the Greeks have their roots firmly based in the past, at times glorious and at other times sad. Ancient techniques such as sun-drying the grapes to make divine sweet wines and occasionally adding pine resin to wine can still be found here. A new generation of wine-makers is exploring the 300 or so Greek grape varieties and the ‘terroirs’ that produced the wines that held the world in awe. Crete has been a wine island since the time of the Minoans, with the fame of its wines peaking around the time of the Venetians. Nowadays, dynamic companies are making modern wines from traditional and ‘international’ grape varieties. Santorini is famous for potent, intense and very dry white wines made from Assyrtiko, and the fi ner examples from top producers can age for at least a decade. Ancient Assyrtiko vines cling precariously to the slopes of the dormant volcano.

Immerse yourself in the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete in the form of Knossos. Explore the picture-perfect town of Oia and the modern city of Heraklion, with its wonderful archaeological museum covering a chronological span of over 5,500 years – from the Neolithic period through to Roman times.

Aegean cuisine is simple. In Crete, specialities include kakavia (fish soup flavoured with lemon, wild onions and herbs) and kalitsounia (savoury stuffed pastries). There is an abundance of wild greens – horta – which are picked fresh from the Cretan hills, and cheese drizzled with honey is a long-standing favourite at breakfast.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Local transport
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Accommodation
  •  Wine Guide
  •  Professional tour manager

Led by...

Anton Lianoudakis

Anton Lianoudakis

Anton has over 20 years of experience in the Greek wine industry. He is both a chef and sommelier, and has consulted for Greek restaurants and wineries both in the UK and in Greece itself.

Today's Price

Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £350

Tour highlights:

  • Spend a day on the iconic island of Santorini and sample its best white wines
  • Visit the legendary bucket-list destination of Knossos Palace with its impressive ruins
  • Enjoy a diverse range of winery visits in Crete, discovering the region's booming wine trade
  • Discover the rich history behind the lesser-known archaeological site of Vathypetro
  • Take in the stunning views over lunch in the picturesque town of Oia
  • Discover the region's unique wines in the company of an expert guide

Tour details

Dates 19 September 2019 - 24 September 2019
Duration 6 days
Today's Price
Deposit: £500 Single supplement: £350 Balance due by 27 June 2019
Tour code +CR19A

Book Now or call 01453 823328 if you have any questions

19 September 2019: Itinerary

Our tour begins with an early flight out of London’s Gatwick airport to the port city of Heraklion in Crete. We celebrate the start of this holiday with a welcome tasting, where we will be introduced to the wines of the region over our very first dinner together as a group.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Olive Green Hotel

This morning’s visit is to Silva Daskalaki in the Siva wine-producing region. The family first produced wine in the late 19th century. The winery underwent a complete renovation and upgrade to the state-of-the-art facility it is today, and it produces a good range of local and international varieties, including Emilia – a sweet red wine made from local Liatiko grapes, which are dried before processing and create a wonderfully concentrated wine. We return to Heraklion and the remainder of our afternoon is free. Dinner is included tonight at a local restaurant, located close to the hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Olive Green Hotel

Our first visit this morning is to the archaeological site of Vathypetro, which has a Minoan wine press as part of the palace complex, built around 1580BCE. Rhous Winery (formerly Tamiolakis) is our next stop. Here, Maria Tamiolaki and Dimitris Mansolas are continuing the tradition of preserving local varieties through their experimental vineyards, planted to varieties that were close to extinction. They are expanding their range through the purchase of grapes from vineyards under contract, which are then cultivated to their specifications. After lunch, we head to our old friends at the Lyrarakis Estate who first got involved in viticulture back in 1966. Both indigenous and international varieties feature with some interesting blends of the two. The winery is dramatically situated in the foothills of the Lassithi mountains and our time here is, as always, sure to be extremely enjoyable. We return to Heraklion at the end of the afternoon and the rest of our evening is free.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Olive Green Hotel

We start our day with a guided tour of the legendary ruins of Knossos. Situated on the north point of the island’s main wine-producing area, the palace was semi-restored in the 1900s by Arthur Evans. Following this, we visit Boutari, one of the most well-known Greek wine producers. This beautiful modern building is set on a small hill within its vineyards and here we enjoy a tasting. After lunch at a local restaurant, we enjoy another tasting at Alexakis Winery, the largest privately owned winery in Crete. Here, we sample a single varietal Vidiano, which has pear and citrus fruit characters. Later, there is free time in Heraklion and dinner isn’t included tonight.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Olive Green Hotel

Today we travel by catamaran to Santorini, devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC and forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera. Upon arrival, we have some free time over lunch in the town of Oia, in the north of the island. A rich combination of small white houses tiering the hillside and affluent captain’s houses, Oia is one of the most photographed places in the world. This afternoon, we visit the Gaia estate. A winery that is practically on the beach, it started life as a tomato factory and is now an impressive state-of-the-art affair. Assyrtiko is the white wine for which Santorini is known and Gaia undoubtedly produces some of the finest examples. However, we also get the opportunity to taste the wines Gaia produce from their winery and vineyards in Nemea, on the mainland in the Peloponnese. We take the catamaran back to Heraklion later this afternoon and enjoy a final dinner together as a group.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Olive Green Hotel

Enjoy a brief last stroll around Heraklion before we depart for the airport and catch our flight home in the afternoon.

Meals include: Breakfast

19 September 2019: Additional Info

19 September 2019: Accommodation

Olive Green Hotel is an intelligent, eco-friendly hotel in Heraklion, a prototype for citizens and travellers of the world. Each room includes a mini bar, free WiFi, and a separate glass walk-in XL rain shower. All rooms have balconies and some have a terrace with elegant outdoor furniture where you can relax. The hotel also has a restaurant open 24 hours a day. Heraklion airport is 3km from the Olive Green Hotel.

19 September 2019: Enquiries

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