The Greek wine island of Santorini experienced its second snowfall in 14 years this month, with much of islands vines covered in snow.
February is typically the coldest month for the mediterranean island, situated in the southern Aegean group of Greek islands.
This year has been the coldest since 2003 and, since then, the second coldest in 20 years. Winegrowers on the island claim to not have seen so many individual cold days as in 2008.
Although unusual, the appearance of snow is unlikely to have an adverse effect on the vines. Plants which are now green may be affected but the now-dormant vines will not.
‘The cold wind and the snow reduce the temperature of the sub-surface soil,’ said winemaker Haridimos Hatzidakis. ‘This, in turn, should delay the ability of the vine to leaf and blossom so as to forestall maturity.’
Hatzidakis added that the cold would ‘help the wood of the vine’ to form.
‘Microorganisms which may otherwise destroy vine wood become inactive,’ he said.
A further bonus is the irrigation effect of the snow. As it melts, the intensely dry, volcanic-pumice soil of the island will absorb the moisture.
Typical grape varieties on Santorini are the whites Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani and the reds Mandilaria and Mavrotragano.
Written by David Furer