The multivarietal island

Crete is the largest island of Greece and is divided into four prefectures: Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion and Lassithi.

There are evidences of vinification sites, dating back to the Minoan times which prove that both viticulture and wine making on the island of Crete, began over 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age. Cretans exported a lot of the famous Malvasia wine which was at that time a blend of many varieties.

Crete is the most southern part of Greece with the hottest climate, but it is also very mountainous, offering the opportunity to growers to plant their vines in higher altitudes and get advantage of cooler climate due to beneficial winds. Soils are quite fertile all around the island, and there is a lot of clay, which has certain features that make it ideal for grape-growing, and often calcareous. Calcareous clay soils tend to flocculate, which results into creating water storage spaces, offering a beneficial effect for the vines and the grapes, during the high temperature summer period in Crete.


The most important red indigenous varieties are Mandilaria, Liatiko and Kotsifali with the blend Mandilaria-Kotsifali being the most common red blend in Crete, found in PDO Archanes, PDO Peza, PDO Handakas – Candia. Romeiko on the other hand is the most planted red grape variety in Chania region. The famous Marouvas was and still is remains, the house wine made by each family, in Kissamos traditionally from Romeiko red grapes, spontaneously fermented, after pressure. The sherry-style marouvas wines have high alcohol levels and strong, rustic flavour.


Liatiko is a red variety with moderate colour intensity and soft tannins and gives We find it as a monovarietal version in the PDO Dafnes appellation dry wines, as well as in the PDO Sitia appellation, in a sweet version, or blended with Mandilaria in the dry PDO Sitia wines.

As far as the white varieties of the island are concerned, there are many like Vidiano - considered to be among the noblest – Vilana - which is widely planted all around the island - Muscat of Spinas, Thrapsathiri, Dafni and Plyto - two white delicate varieties cultivated in the wider area of Heraklion, producing interesting wines in limited quantities. Vilana participates in a monovarietal version in the PDO Peza wines, blended with Thrapsathiri in the PDO Sitia wines, as well as blended with Vidiano, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Thrapsathiri, in the PDO Handakas – Candia wines.

PDO Malvasia Handakas – Candia and PDO Malvasia Sitia are both appellations established in 2011, that refer to sweet white wines from sundried grapes, or sweet white fortified wines from sundried grapes, and are blends of at least 85% Assyrtiko, Athiri, Vidiano, Thrapsathiri and Liatiko and maximum 15% of White Muscat and Malvasia di Candia Aromatica. 

Appellations and Classifications


PDO Archanes, PDO Dafnes, PDO Peza, PDO Handakas – Candia, PDO Malvasia Handakas-Candia, PDO Sitia, PDO Malvasia Sitia


PGI Crete, PGI Chania, PGI Kissamos, PGI Iraklio, PGI Lasithi, PGI Rethimno 

Crete Wineries


Where to Stay in Crete


Eat and Drink in Crete


Wine Destinations in Crete