To make wine on the volcanic, Greek island of Santorini is nothing short of a miracle. Its defining feature, the ash covering its surface, is simultaneously its biggest asset and greatest detriment. Yet people have been making intense, concentrated wines there for centuries. With decades of talent and hard work behind them, the Hatzidakis family has been turning this demanding terrain into some of Greece's best wines.
3,600 years ago a massive volcanic explosion destroyed the Minoan civilization living on Santorini, sinking half the island with it. The rest was covered in a thick layer of ash and pumice. No viable crops will grow in such a desolate landscape-- except for vines.
In this Mediterranean climate, it rains only during the winter months and there is no fresh water available. Vines survive off the morning mist that gets sucked up by the ash and trickles down into roots. However, this same ash is poisonous to phylloxera: the louse that destroyed most of the world's vineyards. All vines are own rooted, with some root systems over 400 years old. This means vines dig deep to concentrate their energy and produce miniscule yields of grapes.
Besides the struggle inherent in producing wine in this impossible place, the Hatzidakis family has endured their own internal tragedies. Their patriarch and champion of Santorini, Haridimos passed away in 2017. They have carried on his legacy, with his wife and daughter taking the reign. He has posthumously proved himself as talented a teacher as winemaker as the wines have not lost any of nerve and continue to be standard bearers.