Santorini counts more than a dozen wineries each one of which is worth a visit for different reasons. Among them, Hatzidakis is very special because it is a winery that was built without disturbing the natural environment around it. In fact, the winery itself is invisible, as it lies in a cavern underneath its vineyard and you can only locate it once you have driven down the road to its entrance. The cavern itself is lined with wine barrels and the stable, cool temperature is ideal for the maturing process taking place. Apart from the wooden barrels, there is also one built of clay, which is used to replicate a wine-producing method followed in antiquity.
Hatzidakis winery implements the principles of organic farming and cultivates the indigenous varieties of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Mavrotragano. Apart from these dry wines, they also produce three natural sweet wines. A wine tasting session in the cavern provides the ideal opportunity to ask the friendly and informed staff about factors like the salty humidity and the volcanic soil that nourish the grapes and make Santorini’s wine unique.
Whether you are a wine guru or simply want to learn more about Santorini’s wines, keep an eye for Wine Roads signage throughout the island and visit more wineries that appeal to you. Some ideas include Boutaris Winery –one of the pioneers in the rebirth of Santorini’s wine tradition, Santo Wines –which produces the island’s greatest volumes and also enjoys a view of the caldera, Sigalas – a family business but also one of the three biggest wineries on the island, Venetsanos – a winery built in 1949 in a way such that benefited from the law of gravity for the energy needed to produce wine and Vassaltis – the youngest blood in Santorini’s wine scene.
When we return to our off-the-beaten-path journey after a sip of Vinsanto at Hatzidakis Winery, we are off to Megalochori, a traditional village that just welcomed the opening of a unique cultural center.