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Description to Crete / Κρήτη

The largest island in Greece (Greek: Kriti) with a length of 260 kilometres and a width of 60 kilometres lies at the southern end of the Aegean Sea. From west to east, Crete is crossed by a mountain range up to 3,000 metres high. Between the mountains there are fertile valleys. It was the centre of Cretan-Mycenaean culture in ancient times, came into Roman possession in 67 BC and was subsequently under Eastern Roman, Arab, Venetian and Ottoman rule. It was not until 1913 that the island became part of Greece. It is believed that Crete was home to the first cultivated vineyards in the Mediterranean, but it is certainly one of the oldest wine-growing cultures. Near the municipality of Archanes, a wine press dating back to 2000 BC was discovered during excavations in Vathipetro. In the Middle Ages, the island was called Candia, and the sweet wines made from Malvasia and Muscat were shipped to all of Europe via the port city of Monemvasia(Peloponnese).

Landkarte Griechenland mit Kreta

Today, the vineyards cover about 50,000 hectares, mainly in the north of the island, where the mountains protect it from the hot desert winds of North Africa. For the most part, table grapes and sultanas are produced, but after all, 20% of Greek wine comes from here. Almost exclusively autochthonous grape varieties are cultivated, the most important being Kotsifali, Liatiko, Mandilaria, Romeiko, Thrapsathiri and Vilana. Until the mid-1970s, the island was spared from phylloxera, which is why most of the vines were ungrafted. Then the pest struck here too and required a switch to vines with resistant rootstocks.

For a long time, Crete, with extremely high yields of over 400 hl/ha, was considered a pure producer of mass wines by large winegrowers' cooperatives. From the 1990s onwards, there was a gradual rethinking. There are four appellations classified as POP (previously OPAP and OPE), these are Archanes (red wine), Dafnes (red wine), Peza (red wine and white wine) and Sitia (red wine and white wine). Well-known producers are Alexakis, Boutari, Creta Olympias Winery, Digenakis, Douloufakis, Ekonomou, Lyrarakis, Minos Cretan Wines and Milliarakis.

Greece map: By Pitichinaccio - own work, CC BY 3.0, Link
edited by Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer 2/2018

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