Get to Know the Producer - Estate Argyros, Santorini

by Voula Monoholias on February 21, 2023

Estate Argyros is a long-standing winery with centuries-old vines, producing wines for over 110 years. 

Estate Argyros was established in 1903 on the volcanic slopes of Santorini. The vineyards of Estate Argyros sit on 120 hectares of ungrafted, phyloxerra immune vines. It is the largest private owner of vineyards in Santorini.  

Estate Argyros vineyards are old, even by Santorini standards. The average vine age exceeds 70 years, while the estate's oldest parcels are more than two centuries old. Grapes are exposed to the extreme conditions of Santorini. On a plentiful vintage, the average yields rarely get higher than 21 hl/ha, an impressively, if not catastrophically, low number, matched by very few wines around the world.

Santorini is one of the most surreal vine-growing environments on the planet. The island sits on an active volcano, with extraordinarily young and infertile soils, with almost zero potassium and almost zero clay. This last characteristic makes Santorini not just Phylloxera-free but Phylloxera-immune, meaning that the Phylloxera bug will never have the chance to invade the island.

The climate
The island's climate is the hot Mediterranean, with very little rainfall during the growing season but plenty of sunlight and fierce winds. Without the fog that comes out of the caldera every morning, which provides moisture in a most sophisticated drip irrigation system supplied by nature, very little vegetation could survive in Santorini.

The "basket" prunning
The kouloura, basket-shaped training system of Santorini was developed, out of millennia of trial and error, in response to this bizarre growing environment. The compact shape of the basket protects the flowers and the fruit from the severe winds while it also traps humidity. The downside of it is low yields. 

Our philosophy in the vineyard
Estate Argyros works almost exclusively with old vines because the vineyards unique to this geography can provide the depth, definition and concentration needed to produce the desired style of wine. Work in the vineyard is meticulous, with hundreds of working hours per year per hectare, since every single vine is considered a unique organism. Timing of harvest is carefully determined plot by plot to pick at optimum ripeness, eschewing the problem of overripeness, a frequent Siren in the vineyards of Santorini.

Our philosophy in the cellar
Estate Argyros is an artisan producer crafting small quantities of top-quality wines. The recipe in the cellar is that there is no recipe, with each plot being harvested, vinified and aged separately until very late in the production process. Each plot is treated with the required sensitivity to express its birthplace while achieving purity and elegance. To achieve the quintessential Argyros style, patience is required. Many wines are kept in the cellars for years. In the case of the Vinsantos, decades, so the winery has been designed to accommodate such a vision. Oak, mainly in the form of old and large French oak barrels, is always used to underline a wine's character, never to create it. 

Estate Argyros vines are farmed organically, without pesticides. Vineyard work is performed manually, apart from the ploughing, carried out by mules. The vines are not irrigated, and most of the vineyard additions are products of the wine-making process, like composted stems and grape skins.

The Estate Argyros winery was also designed with respect for the Santorini landscape and aesthetics while being environmentally friendly and energy-efficient.

Autochthonous Varieties
The Santorini grape varieties have been shaped by the island's unique environment, something that can be traced to their character's individuality. These varieties attract attention from wine lovers and vine growers worldwide, increasing plantings not just in Greece but also in other countries and other continents. Assyrtiko, together with Mavrotragano and Aidani, are the heritage grapes of Santorini that deserve total dedication and resilience.

Ageing our Wines
One of the signs of excellent quality is the ability to age and stand the test of time. Santorini wines can be a perfect example, and most Estate Argyros wines are made to last rather than offer immediate but passing enjoyment. 

Of course, personal preference is paramount, especially when tasting dry Assyrtikos – some prefer the crystalline purity of the youth, some enjoy the textural complexity of age, while some enjoy the multifaceted expression of the deep maturity.

Since Estate Argyros are made in minute quantities and assessing ageing ability through repeated tastings is an option for very few, the estate issues' wine-making team annually issued a vintage chart to guide collectors worldwide. 

Most of the tastings made to form this chart are made with bottles that never left the winery and kept in ideal conditions, so bottles stored in warmer cellars are expected to reach each stage earlier, while magnums and jeroboams have, at least, +25% slower development. 

The Estate Argyros Winery, located in Episkopi and established in 2015, is a cutting-edge establishment, one of the most impressive on the island, covering more than 3000 m2.

The utmost care was taken to create a most stylish and impressive visitor area. Still, most of the emphasis was placed on the production facilities, ensuring that every stage of the wine-making process could be handled with maximum control and minimum intervention. 

Put this place on your bucket list. It is one of a kind in one of the most beautiful and magical places in the world. 


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