Sustainable Winegrowing, Crete
Greece's biggest island Crete lies on the southern end of the Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean basin and is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world. Archaeological findings show that wine-growing has been ongoing here for over 4000 years. To date, one fifth of Greek wines are produced on the island. In the last decades wine-growers have concentrated on mass production, often neglecting ecological and social sustainability. Small winegrowers who are often growing native grapes are suffering from a lack of opportunities to sell their products to local tourism industry. The change to sustainable winegrowing will create an innovative sustainable product and thereby will help to preserve the natural basis for tourism development on Crete.
The Cretan terroir is characterized by the Mediterranean climatic, geological and geographical aspects and the endemic biodiversity. The use of sustainable farming practices (e.g. improving soil health, water management, avoidance of chemical substances) helps preserving the terroir's character. Apart from that, local grapes are better adapted to the Cretan conditions and are thereby able to renew nature's potential for increased productivity.
Tourism is the biggest industry on Crete. The emphasis on the quality and tradition of Cretan wines as well as the establishment of a recognised branding for sustainably grown wines will attract tourists from all over the world. A synergy between farming and tourism could be the starting point for many promising processes in local economy. The project therefore aims at securing long-term cooperation between local winegrowers and tourism companies from the whole island. It can serve as an inspiration and motivation for future cooperation between these two branches and, thus, strengthens local economy and local producers.
In a first step, winegrowers will learn the advantages of sustainable winegrowing through increased sensitization and specific training programs, also including knowledge about the importance of local grapes as a genetic bank to preserve the specific characteristics of Cretan wines. The cooperation of local winegrowers with tourism companies will be promoted by the development of communication material and network for visitor's awareness. Information material will be issued and a living exhibition of local grape varieties will be staged at one of the wineries. Furthermore, the development of interactive information events in Cretan hotels as well as excursion offers to sustainable wineries are planned.
The project aims at
- linking sustainable winegrowing on Crete with local tourism industry
- motivating local producers to preserve and expand the antique tradition of winegrowing
- supporting preservation of biodiversity on Crete by retaining seven native grape varieties
- supporting Crete to develop as a sustainable winegrowing region and sustainable destination in the Mediterranean Sea
- by improving the availability of the Cretan native wines
- by establishing a recognised wine brand and
- by promoting closer collaboration between winegrowers and the tourism industry.