The Aegean civilization is identified with the vineyard and wine tradition of its islands as it is thought that viniculture began in Greece on these islands. The islands of significant viticultural interest include Samos, Lemnos, and Rhodes, and, among the Cyclades group, Paros and Santorini.
Rhodes, the island of the Knights, is the fourth largest Greek island, and for many years, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. The island combines medieval and traditional elements, lacy beaches with pine covered mountains, villages and seaside settlements, archaeological sites, medieval monuments and cosmopolitan tourist resorts.
Its rich history is pervasive in every corner of the island since every conqueror that passed left his mark. The island flourished in the 4th century BC, when the famous Colossus was erected—the work of Charis the Lindian, a student of the famous sculptor, Lysippos. After the devastating earthquake of 155 AD Persians, Arabs, Saracens and Seljuks settled on the island, while the 1309 AD of the Knights of Saint John arrived on the island, renovated the castle with a unique fortification in Europe, and is a world heritage site by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
On the southeastern edge of Greece, Rhodes is a gifted corner of the Mediterranean for viticulture. On the one hand, the island enjoys the most sunshine in Greece, and on the other, summer heat is cooled from sea breezes that blow from May to September. As for irrigation, nature handles that with rain. It is a historical fact that the island of Rhodes is among the prime locations of wine production and marketing in the ancient world. Thousands of Rodian amphorae, bearing the trademark Sun God, were found scattered in the Mediterranean basin, quenched with “Rhodian wine” not only in Greece, but also Egypt and Rome spreading a valuable Designation of Origin. Rhodes was one of the first places in the Aegean Sea that welcomed the vine from the East, which was worshiped and supported over its prosperity and strength.
In 1971, Rhodes earned its right of Appellation of Origin of Superior Quality for white, red and sweet wines as it was one of the few places in Greece where the vineyards were expanded after the Second World War. In Greece, Protected Designation of Origin wines represent 8%-10% of total wine production. In Rhodes, the percentage reaches 90% of total production for grapes, and for wines, it approaches 40% of total production.
Approximately 5,000 acres of vines are grown on the island in two zones and it is considered one of the richest vineyards of Greece, cultivating Greek and international varieties. Each zone, due to differences in microclimate and soil, produce wines of different taste and characteristics. The vineyards of Rhodes, which are cultivated in small plots and scattered areas, have never suffered from phylloxera, thus many vines are 50-60 years old. The harvest starts in late August and is usually completed in late September, depending on variety and region. All the grapes are carefully hand-picked during the early morning hours before the sun rises.