In the land of Crete, were wine has a vitivini-cultural history of more than 4.000 years and the biodiversity and climate offer excellent conditions and opportunities for cultivation, local families have the wine—making art engraved in their identities as they have been producing it for generations .
In the modern Cretan wine world, one of the pioneer wine making families is Lyrarakis, who have been producing high quality wines since 1966 and are credited with the revival of 3 indigenous grapes: Plyto, Dafni and Melissaki.
In this issue, we are going to interview George Lyrarakis, second-generation winemaker and nowadays chairman of the board in Lyrarakis Winery.
Hello George, tell us a little more about Lyrarakis winery. How it all began?
It all started in 1966, when brothers Manolis and Sotiris Lyrarakis, my father and uncle, established the winery in their birthplace, the village of Alagni in the heart of the prefecture of Heraklion. Motivated by their love for the Cretan land and impelled by a vision that we hold till today: preserving and promoting the Cretan wine heritage, they started producing wine just like their ancestors did before them. These decades of evolution have created a legacy which is now passed along to the second generation, that are now at helm of the family business. The winery is now run by Bart, George and Lambros, my cousins, myself and my sister Katerina and even though Manolis and Sotiris are ofﬁcially retired, they remain really active, offering their valuable experience.
What grape varieties do you cultivate?
In our winery we focus on cultivating the indigenous grape varieties of our island. Crete has an impressive wealth of rare grapes that are still unknown to most of the world. Our focus is to highlight them and their distinctive character through continuous research and investment in the vineyard.
In 1992 our fathers initiated the revival of two almost extinct Cretan grapes. Plyto and Dafni were the ﬁrst grapes researched by our family. In 1996, we had the ﬁrst bottling and distribution of these wines. The names of those varieties were printed on modern wine labels for the ﬁrst time ever. In 2010, a promising but almost forgotten native grape, Melissaki, was planted in the “Gero-detis” vineyard, marching the 3rd revival that is now credited to second generation of Lyrarakis family. Nowadays, we are partnering with other winegrowers as well to cultivate single varietal vineyards for ten native grapes: Plyto, Dafni, Melissaki, Thrapsathiri, Liatiko, Kotsifali, Mandilari, Vilana,Vidiano and Assyrtiko. In addition, most of our wines belong to our Single Area range, where these indigenous grape varieties express their ﬁnest character through selected privileged “crus” terroirs.
Do you export your wines?
Approximately 50% of our wines are being exported to 26 countries outside Greece, including — Germany, Belgium, UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and more. People seem to have great interest in exploring new ﬂavours and ﬁnding new, unknown, wine treasures from around the world. Because of that we notice that the interest for Cretan wines is increasing and the value of them is being acknowledged.
Is your winery open to visitors?
Yes, it is open from April till October. Strongly believing that discovering local products is one of the most exciting moments of a traveling experience and the most joyful way to learn about the history, the people and the culture of a place, we created the visitable part of our winery in 2004.
There, our visitors will be toured around the Vineyards, the cellar and the open-air Vine museum, learn all about the Cretan wine culture and our winery’s history, and, of course, taste our wines. We aim in creating wine experiences that include the best elements of the authentic Cretan tradition, culture and gastronomy, embracing the virtues of the Cretan hospitality, honesty and pride.
OPENING TIMES APRIL – OCTOBER
MONDAY TO SATURDAY 11:00-19:00
SUNDAY UPON REQUEST