The most exciting part of any holiday? Tasting new wines of course!
Crete is known for their wine-growing tradition, and together with olive oils and cheese, it is one of the highlights of the local produce. There is a fair amount of wineries around the island, with most of them concentrated in the Heraklion area and a handful between Chania and Rethymnon.
Douloufakis Winery was recommended by our hotel as one of the best ones in the area, so we took their word for it and booked a taxi all the way to Dafnes village.
Glad we did so, because if we ever had to navigate through those small village roads we would probably still be looking for it now.
If you’re interested in visiting few wineries around the island, its best to find a victim who will drive you around, watching you sip some of the finest wines while regretting their poor life choices.
The alternative is to book a taxi or some of the wine experiences (I researched few options here – Vintage Routes Crete, here from Tripadvisor and here from Viator).
We took a ride from central Heraklion to Dafnes village, which is around 30 minutes drive and costs 30 eur one way for two people. There are also buses running regularly.
Zero tolerance for alcohol while driving means you will have to consider one of the options above.
Back to the winery.
Douloufakis is a well-hidden gem in the middle of sleepy Dafnes village, with both the wine production and storing facilities located in a small-ish house in the village. We booked the wine tasting just a few hours in advance and they were happy to accommodate us.
Arriving late in the afternoon, we took a short tour of the winemaking facilities, being offered to taste (sommeliers cover your ears) the freshly squeezed rose.
After that, we moved to the wine tasting room and started with the whites.
Crete is known for some very unique grape varieties that you won’t get a chance to taste anywhere else.
Vilana which is the grape used to make the white wine you saw earlier, with lemon almost floral character, Vidiano grapes grown mostly in the area of Heraklion, Liatiko which was one of my favourites and few others – you can find detail information on their website.
The winery has won several awards for their products around the world, latest ones being bronze and silver from Japan and UK Decanter awards.
We didn’t get a chance to see the wine cellars, but that’s probably because we didn’t ask about it.
What what I remember, they make around 100 thousand bottles per season and export some of it all the way to New Zealand, Japan, USA and Australia.
Part of their stock was beautifully presented in the wine tasting room as you can see.
I could go on about how lovely the wines were and what unique character they had, but wine is really a personal preference and as much as I loved them, you might prefer something completely different.
The best thing you could do is to book a wine tasting tour and taste them yourself.
We ended up taking two bottles with us home, plus a bottle of sparkling, which is the first one ever made in Crete to celebrate my birthday.
Did I mention how much I love the design of the label? You should have seen the bottles in which they were presented, not your average boring brown carton, but a piece of art that you find hard to say goodbye to once the bottle is out.
To give you an idea, just check out the homepage of their website.
After the wine tasting, we took a little stroll around the village and ended in up a coffee shop at the square. Older village members were enjoying their afternoon coffee, there were no cars in sight and the only thing you can hear is the wind wrestling with the leaves on the trees.
I thought this would be the ideal place to practice my Greek, so while ordering our coffee, I managed to say almost all of it in Greek, with a sprinkle of random Finnish words that I learned from my little one.
The waiter looked a bit confused at first but turned out she is quite proficient with Finnish too and got us what we needed.
If you want an authentic Cretan experience, this is it!
Our cab driver arrived shortly after we’ve finished our coffee and was kind enough to stop just outside the village so I could snap this beauty.
Who would think that Crete can remind you so much of Italy!
Anyone selling a vineyard? I think I might want to start my own!