History and Company Profile of Boutari, Minos and Peza Union Wineries in Crete
Boutari Winery in Crete
The Fantaxometoho Estate in Crete, lies just outside the village of Skalani, on the road towards the village of Myrtia, birthplace of the famous Greek writer Kazantzakis. It is situated within the Arhanes vine-growing region, a district producing "Appellation d'origine de Qualite Superieure" wines. Extending over the northern slopes of a low hill, rising from 170 to 215 metres above sea level, the vineyard is protected from the warm southern winds from the Libyan Sea and benefits from the cooling effect of the meltemia, the yearly winds blowing from the north.
In Greek, "Fantaxometocho" means "ghosts' glebe". The name that was given to the place "Fantaxometocho" was taken by the legend that was created in order to protect the glebe from sea dogs. Today, it's the place where Boutari, the largest Greek wine producer, has established its winery in Crete.
The estate covers a total surface area of 18 acres, of which 15 are planted with vines and the remainder with olive trees. Planting of the vines began in 1990 and was completed in 1994. The planting in the Fantaxometoho estate is an example of the organized research that is carried out by the Boutari company into the quality potential of Greek varieties of grape, as well as into the ability of foreign varieties to adapt to the Greek climate and eventually to be blended with native ones.
The Research and Development team has planted side by side: local Cretan varieties such as the Vilana, the Kotsifali, the Mantilaria, the Liatiko; greek varieties threatened with extinction such as the Moschato Spinas, the Daphni, the Plyto and the Vidiano; world-renowned foreign varieties such as the Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Sylvaner, the Grenache rouge, the Mourverde, the Viognier; and the members of the Malvasia family: the Malvasia di Candia, the Malvasia aromatika and the Malvasia istiana.
The grapes grown in the vineyard are used to produce: Domaine Fantaxometoho - red, Domaine Fantaxometoho - white, Ktima Fantaxometoho-rose, Chardonnay Boutari, Sauvignon Blanc Boutari. The wine-making process takes place in the estate's own facilities.
The Boutari company owns 7 wineries in Greece at Naoussa, Goumenissa,
Pikermi, Mantineia, Nemea, Santorini and Crete. The company has also
into the brewing market with the purchase of Henninger Hellas SA (now known
as MYTHOS ZYTHOPOIIA SA). In 1997 the company launched a new brand
of beer under the name MYTHOS - and indeed, it rapidly acquired the status
of a myth among connoisseurs of fine beer (1992).
The Miliarakis Winery is located in the village Peza, the most important wine producing area of Crete, 17 km southern of Heraklion. Its history started in the middle of the 19th century with the "Inn of Antonakis" in the village of Peza. This inn belonged to Antonis Miliarakis and
the visitors had the chance to rest themselves and their animals from
the tiring trip from or to Heraklion. The travelers enjoyed the home - made food and a glass of wine produced by Antonis Miliarakis.
Later the sons of Antonis Miliarakis founded the company "Minos", which was legalized in 1932. The first wine bottling in the island of Crete was achieved by "Minos" in 1952. Thanks to the efforts of Minos, the greatest area of Peza was recognized and characterized as the area of cultivating white as well as red grapes for the production of superior quality wine (V.Q.P.R.D.)
Today the company is carrying over the 8th decade. It Continues the wine making from Cretan grape varieties like Kotsifali and Mandilari for the red wines and Vilana for the white wines. "Minos" vinificates and bottles according to the latest methods. Part of the red wine is maturing in oak French barrels with capacity of 225 and 500 liters which are kept in the winery's cellar under ideal conditions of temperature and moisture.
The total production of wine amounts to 700.000 to 800.000 bottles per year from which 70% is consumed in the island of Crete, 15% in other places of Greece and the remaining 15% is exported. The most important international markets for Minos wines are Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Philippines and Taiwan.
Wines produced by Minos are:
- Limited Production: Minoiko red, Minoiko white, Kotsifali white, Vilana, Vilana fume, Kotsifali - Mandilari
- Appelation d' Origine: Palace white, Palace red, Castillo, Sant Antonio, Vilana
- Cretan Local Wine: Minos Palace rose, Local Cretan white / rose/ red
- Various Table wines
Peza Agricultural Union
In 1933, a group of local farmers formed a strong union, the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Peza, producing wine and extra virgin olive oil. The fertile valley of Peza lies 15 km from Heraklion.
Nowadays the union is composed of 19 first-degree associations with 3000 members or 97% of the farmers of the area.
The general assembly of the association's representatives votes for the 5-members board of directors every 3 years. The members of the B.D. are local farmers with significant experience, since they have taken part in the union's projects in the past.
Technology meets tradition in the fully modern industrialised factory owned by PEZA UNION. 80-85% of the local agricultural products is processed and distributed in the Greek and the international markets.
PEZA UNION has developed significant actions in the following sectors:
The area has a long tradition in viticulture. PEZA UNION'S members own 30,000 vineyards (10,000 for VQPRD wines, 8,000 for table wines, 12,000 for sultana's production and grapes).
The company owns:
- Winery with the capacity of 20,000 tones of grapes, tanks & other storage compartments for about 25,000 tones.
- Packaging plant for table grapes (400 tones per 24 hours)
- Wine bottling plant.
Peza Union produces different types of wines, ranging from high-end to popular table wines and has developed packaging and marketing strategies that have since been replicated by other national producers. The land and systematic cultivation of the area give the excellent grape varieties for the noble wines that are produced and can accompany a rich dinner and bring out the tastes of its delicacies.
Olive Oil Production
Within the PEZA UNION boundaries, a group of olive oil producers composed of 4500 farmers - members (1,100,000 olive trees) operates and produces annually an average of 5000 tones extra virgin olive oil.
Peza Union owns:
- 4 olive production plants where 1200-2000 tones of olive oil can be produced
- Traditional olive-oil soap factory
- Olive oil tanks of 6500 tones capacity
- Olive oil bottling plant
The quality of extra virgin olive oil lies amongst the first ones internationally. Farmers collect the olives carefully following the simple traditional way, and deliver the crop to the union's olive plants where the olive juice is extracted by cold extraction, rich in vitamins E & A, high in mononsaturated acids and cholesterol free. The next step is bottling which takes place according to EU's directives without any use of chemical processing or any other technological intervention. The outcome is pure extra virgin olive oil, the basic ingredient of the renowned and healthy Cretan Diet.