As Europe’s southernmost point, the island of Crete is known for its high temperatures and very dry climate. However, as has been proven numerous times, it is human passion, rather than the climate, that is the real catalyst in the production of great wines. Whoever has any doubts about Crete’s ability to produce great wines − in view of the island’s extreme weather − should visit Manousakis Winery and try their excellent creations.
The winery is situated 15 km from the city of Chania, and as we approach, we spot the recently renovated but still beautifully traditional house of the Manousakis family. Here, we’re greeted by Alexandra Manousakis, who takes us on a tour of the modern winery, which is surrounded by olive and orange trees.
THE GREEK DREAM
Everything here started with Theodoros Manousakis; born in 1943 in Crete, he emigrated with his family at the age of eleven to America to escape the dire economic situation in the region at the time. As a young immigrant, Manousakis built a new life and a successful career, but the flame of nostalgia continued to burn inside him, never letting him forget his homeland. Almost 30 years after he had left, he returned to Crete, determined to create a vineyard where he could produce high-quality wines. He named his wines Nostos (which means nostalgia), marking each bottle with his great motivation for returning to Crete. Drawing on what he’d learned in the business world overseas, Manousakis used all his experience and expertise in his new venture which, from the beginning, was founded on a clear vision: to produce great wines. Keeping in mind the maxim that great wines are born in the vineyard, the Manousakis family started by planting an 8-hectare plot of land at an elevation of 350 metres. With the help of expert viticulturists, the family decided to plant four Rhône Valley varieties: Syrah, Grenache Rouge, Mourvèdre and Roussanne. The first results were successful, and soon the vineyard began to expand to include plots at higher elevations, eventually covering 48 hectares in total.
In addition to the four French varieties, four Greek varieties were planted: three indigenous Cretan varieties (Moschato Spinas, Vidiano and Romeiko) and Assyrtiko, originally native to Santorini. Today, the Manousakis Winery is run by Alexandra Manousakis, Theodoros’ American-born daughter, and her husband Afshin Molavi, who was born in Sweden and came to Greece to work as a sommelier. The team is completed by oenologist Kostis Galanis and viticulturist Giannis Galanis.
Manousakis Winery produces five white varietals: Nostos Roussanne, Nostos Vidiano, Nostos Muscat of Spina, Nostos Assyrtiko, and Nostos Romeiko. The reds include two varietals, Nostos Syrah and Nostos Mourvèdre, and two blends, Nostos Alexandra’s (Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache Rouge) and Nostos Blend (Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache Rouge). At first, the whole production of 5,000 to 10,000 bottles was exported to the United States; more recently, with an increase in production, Nostos wines have been gaining steady recognition in Greece as well as in other international markets. g