History of the Family Winery

History of the Family Winery – Part I

Source: Personal archive of the Koutsoyannopoulos Family.

"In 1870 the brothers Grigorios and Dimitrios Koutsoyannopoulos, originating from Katavothra Molaon of the Laconia Prefecture (Peloponnese), arrived in Santorini by sailboat.

The sailboat was heading to the island of Syros which was a prospering commercial centre at that time. Instead of reaching Syros, the brothers disembarked on the island of Santorini due to strong west winds. Maritime trade was flourishing in Santorini; firstly, because there were many safe bays for sailboats around the volcano, and secondly and most importantly, because it was a transit route on the way to Crete and Egypt. Later on, wine trade relations were developed with Egypt.
From their very first contacts with the island, the young Koutsoyannopoulos brothers realised that Santorini presented great commercial interest which they decided to exploit, and started trading olive-oil that they transferred in wineskins from their home town. Their sharpness and hard work enabled them to develop, acquire real estate and sailboats and establish considerable financial standing within two decades, which was considered a remarkable achievement by the society of Santorini."
Our family created the museum out of its love and passion for tradition and wine. As fourth-generation winemakers, we are proud to continue the tradition of producing high quality wines.
It took twenty-one years of hard work, patience and perseverance to create the wine museum. This endeavour was funded entirely by our family. The museum was created by manual work without the use of machinery, given that the area is narrow, long and low-ceilinged.
The whole range of tools, vessels and machinery are genuine and rare pieces, which have been used by past generations of the Koutsoyannopoulos family and are an important part of the family history.
The exhibits in the museum are presented in a certain order. The stages of the winemaking process and the whole range of machinery are presented in chronological order. The tour begins with a model of the first house of the Koutsoyannopoulos family dating back to 1840 that was situated at Katavothra Molaon (present-day Metamorfosi) of the Laconia Prefecture (Peloponnese). The visitors can also see various authentic elements from the house, such as a roof tile, a window bolt and a hook. The visitors can learn about the life of vine-growers in Santorini and the stages of winemaking, including pruning and ploughing of the vineyards, harvesting, stomping and weighing of the grapes by viewing semi-mobile and still-life figurines. The rare exhibits, including winemaking machinery and tools, will take the visitors back in time to another era. Visitors end their tour at the head office of the founder of the winery, Grigorios Koutsoyannopoulos, where all his personal belongings and stationery dating back to 1870 are exhibited.
Lastly, the visitors will have the opportunity to taste three of the best wines that our winery produces today. In this manner, we are confident that the visitors will acquire knowledge about the past, the Cycladic culture, and wine.


History of the Family Winery – Part II

The winery was founded in 1870 by the brothers Grigoris and Dimitris Koutsoyannopoulos. From 1870 to 1917 their main export destination was Odessa, Russia.

The Russians showed a preference for the dry wine of Santorini due to its high alcohol levels (17 – 18% alc), as well as for Vinsanto that was used at Holy Communion. The wine was poured from wineskins (mainly made from goatskin) into barrels, and then the barrels were transported by sailboats. The Russian Revolution of 1917 marks the end of these exports, but new markets open up in West Europe, France and Italy. The popularity of Santorini wine confirms it as a truly high-quality wine.
Before acquiring the first bottling equipment in the winery, wine was sold loose by the seki (1 seki = 10 litres) and only to a few customers in Santorini, given that each family produced its own wine.
In 1967 the power station started operating in Santorini.
In 1970 we acquired the first electric machinery that helped to improve the winemaking process and the quality of Santorini wine.
Thus, in 1970 we gradually began bottling with the first semi-automatic winemaking and bottling equipment. Our first labels were VOLCAN and LAVA. This innovation was not received wholeheartedly by the public. They continued to trust loose wine that was produced in their own cellars and were suspicious of the quality of bottled wine, because they believed that it contained 'chemicals'. Today the winery continues to produce high-quality wine under the supervision, care and passion of fourth-generation owner, Giorgos Koutsoyannopoulos. Modern equipment made of stainless steel has replaced the wooden machinery and tools.
Equipped with state of the art technologies and with extensive experience in the vineyards of Santorini and the local grape varieties, we produce high-quality wine.
We put forth our best effort to maintain and improve the quality of our wines and the aesthetic appearance of the bottles and labels to ensure the very best quality.
However, there is much more to the winery than this. It is also a cultural pioneer. By founding the Wine Museum on the same land as the winery, we wish to preserve our cultural heritage for the present and future generations. The Wine Museum is a glorious natural cave eight meters below ground, 300 meters long and has a labyrinth-like shape. The Wine Museum presents the history of vine-growing in Santorini. The visitors can learn about the life of vine-growers in Santorini from 1660 to 1970 through a range of exhibits.
Moreover, in our attempt to revive the ancient Greek practice of wine celebrations, we host events every Friday in a specially designed area of the winery, where we combine wine with food, dance and entertainment, following in the footsteps of god Dionysus.


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