Today we had a full free day but we decided to take both of the optional excursions offered: a tasting at a local winery and an evening sailboat cruise around the caldera that Gloria had arranged for our group.
After a relaxing morning, we made our way to the Santo Winery, just minutes from our hotel. A cooperative winery, Santo makes wines from the grapes grown by around 5,000 farmers and vine growers on the island. It is the largest winery in the Aegean and the most modern in all of the Balkans.
Our guide told us how the grape vines were twisted into circular patterns as you can see in the photo below, a method particular to Santorini. Because the island is so dry and windy, the grapes must be protected and low to the ground, so the farmers trim the vines and wind them into wreaths. All farms on Santorini are dry farms, meaning that the crops are not watered at all—they draw moisture from the air and volcanic soil, which absorbs rainwater like a sponge.
Then, it was time for what we’d all been waiting for: tasting!
The first wine we sampled was a dry white, the perfect accompaniment to our “light” lunch, which included a Greek salad and an assortment of traditional appetizers like tomato balls and fava bean dip.
The wine was crisp and refreshing, exactly what you want to be drinking on a terrace overlooking the stunning cliffs of Santorini and the sea.
For dessert, we sipped on vin santo, the island’s famous sweet wine. Made from grapes dried in the Santorini sun, vin santo has a lovely amber color and strong “legs,” the thick liquid that coats the inside surface of the glass when swirled around.
After all the tasting, we returned to the hotel for some free time to relax before our sunset cruise departed in the early evening.
Our sailboat was called King Thiras and offered an amazing vantage point as it sailed around the coast of the island on the caldera side.
From the sea, we saw Fira, Oía and other small ports lit up in sunset colors.
Then, just as the sun had almost completely set, we cleared the last cliff and had a full view of the sun as well as the other sailboats in the water.
Jessie and Jenna are making their way through Greece, from Athens to the islands of the Aegean. Follow along as they blog on tour!