Stilianou is a small organic grower from eastern Crete, focused on indigenous Cretan grape varieties

Giannis Stilianou and his son, personally tend to their 3 hectares of organic vineyards, planted only with indigenous Cretan varieties. There is no irrigation or any kind of spraying. The vines are stressed under the hot, Cretan Sun, and then cooled off by the mountain breeze. This shows in the impressive concentration and intense aromatics of the artisanal Stilianou wines.

Giannis’ family emigrated to Crete after the last war between Greece and Turkey, a century ago, along with the rest of a Greek population wave, and brought with them many techniques of Asia Minor. One of them was the sun drying of grapes on “tsisveres“, wooden boards that are spread on the ground during the day, and stacked at night, in a way that allows for air to flow through and prevent any humidity issues. This traditional method is used in the product of the naturally sweet, sun dried Kotsifali, the only sweet vinification of the grape in the world.

Giannis Stilianou initially decided to follow a different career path, and studied engineering. After working in that field for a while, he decided his heart belonged in the vineyards, where he grew up and loved as a kid and teenager.

  • Winery: Stilianou
  • Focus: Organic blends from indigenous Cretan varieties
  • Region: Kounavoi, Heraklion (Crete)
  • Year founded: 1922
  • Size: 3 hectares
  • Grapes: Vidiano / Thrapsathiri / Vilana / Kotsifali / Mandilari
  • Viticulture: Organic / Dry / Unsprayed
  • Climate:Subtle Winters with Continental traits. Humid Falls. The Northwest winds during the Summer tame the extreme heat, while there is great variance of temperature during the 24 hours of the day.
  • Soil: Limestone, rock
  • Vine age: Planted between 1982 and 2011
  • Altitude: 350-420m
  • Distance from coast: 8 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Crete is the biggest island of Greece, and home to one of the most impressive ancient civilizations, the Minoan.

Heraklion, the fourth largest Greek city and largest city of Crete, is located in the center of the island. It is very picturesque and full of ancient ruins in and around it, spanning thousands of years and many different civilizations, including the Minoan, Byzantine, Venetian, and Arab.

South of Heraklion lies Knossos, the most famous ancient city of Minoan times, with the well preserved and famous homonymous palace, with its bright red pillars and wall art of the time.