Manousakis Winery has been producing its 100% organic wines under the brand name Nostos since 1997. The winery is situated in the village of Vatolakkos, just 15 minutes (drive) from the city of Chania.
This charming, traditional village setting is a perfect backdrop to try these award-winning Cretan wines and over the years Manousakis Winery has been holding tours and tastings for visitors from all over the world.
The philosophy of this boutique winery is to carefully cultivate the vines in order to absorb the scent-filled terroir so the flavours of the grapes combine with the herbs for an incomparable taste. Each bottle of Nostos Wines captures the character of this verdant island and the slopes of the Lefka Ori.
IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Alexandra Manousakis, youngest daughter of owner and founder Ted, about their beautiful family winery.
Tell us about your family winery. How long has it been running and how did it all begin?
The winery started in 1993 when we first planted our organic vineyards with the international varieties of Roussanne, Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah. In 1997 we had our first vintage. The winery was started by my father, Ted. He loved wine and wanted to make world class wine in the village he loves. Since my dad is not a viticulturist nor an oenologist he hired a fantastic team of top people in the wine industry at that time and they advised him on which grapes to plant and how to cultivate.
Tell us about your wine and what makes it so special?
Our winery started as a passion project. Therefore we are truly interested in producing the best wine we can from the best grapes. We want to showcase the Cretan Terroir which is phenomenal and to show the world that fantastic wines can and are coming out of a small place like Vatolakkos. I have to say that I love wine and particularly our wines.
How would you describe your varieties- both reds and whites?
The varieties that we work with are international varieties that have now been living here in Crete for the last 30 years. We also work strongly with the local variety called Romeiko and produce a white from that, which is a go to summer white. We experiment with some other Cretan Varieties and have seen excellent results there. We believe in low intervention for our wines which means that we like to let our vines and grapes do their thing. We now produce 12 different wines and a total of 120,000 bottles approximately per year. That might sound like a lot but we are still one of the smaller wineries on the island.
Where are your wines stocked? Are they sold internationally?
Our wines are sold in 15 different countries and you can see where in the wine section of our website. Due to different laws in different countries we can only send directly to countries within the EU.
What is your role in the company and who else in your family works with you?
I run the winery with my husband, Afshin. My father is based in Washington DC and is still involved with the winery. We are all quite involved with the production of our wines and love what we do.
Tell us about the rest of the team at Manousakis?
Since 1998, our oenologist Kostis Galanis has been head winemaker. Kostis is an amazing person as well as winemaker and together with his son, Giannis Galanis they make the wine production team. Giannis is our viticulturist and assistant winemaker. We have a wonderful team in our office as well and our tasting terrace. We firmly believe that you are only as good as your team is and we feel very happy to be working with the individuals that we do.
Describe your beautiful vineyard and the wine tours and tastings?
Our vineyards are on quite rough terrain. We have a few different vineyards in a number of locations that range from 350m above sea level to 650m above sea level. Tours of our vineyards are arranged through Uncharted Escapes, a tour agency with land rovers to be able to get around the mountains. At the winery we have our tasting terrace and restaurant which serves traditional Cretan delicacies and where you can try all of our wines. Normally, we do tours of our winery but due to the pandemic, we did not hold tours this past summer.
The tasting terrace is quite beautiful and is located in our old winery in an olive and orange tree grove. It’s quite peaceful and relaxing.
What cultural events take place at the winery?
We normally host a series of events at the winery. We’ve done art exhibitions and every weekend we have live music on our terrace. People often rent the winery for private events such as small weddings, baptisms or parties.
How has harvesting for 2020 been and are there any new wines you will be releasing for 2021?
The 2020 harvest was quite good. So far we are very pleased with the results and we are looking forward to the wines that will come of it. We are releasing a new wine in 2021! It’s a collaboration with another winery and it’s very exciting. I won’t say more yet but will make an announcement when it is ready.
What are your current opening hours are and are you open all year round?
The winery is closing the tasting terrace from November 1st and then operating by appointment only until March 15th, 2021. Typically we are open daily during the summer months but of course we don’t yet know what the 2021 season looks like.