Over the millennia the Lefka Ori Mountains of Western Crete have absorbed the quiet life cycle for thousands of the island’s native flora. When you walk these mountains in the spring it takes you on a sensory adventure filled with the scents of rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and chamomile. In the fall, they descend back to the soil and are absorbed and thus the quiet life cycle continues.
My name is Alexandra and I am the youngest daughter of Ted Manousakis, the owner and founder of Manousakis Winery. My father was born in the village of Vatolakkos in 1943 and left his village eleven years later, following the journey many Greeks were making, to America. For an enterprising young man, the possibilities were endless.
After university, my dad was successful in a number of business endeavors including industrial security, real estate development, and hospitality. However, success came at a price: the near loss of his Cretan heritage. Nostos is the greek meaning of “yearning to come home” and this propelled my Dad to the land of his birth. He wanted to be more than a mere visitor, he wanted to give something back to the island that he loved. Making wine is a strong tradition in Crete and wine was a way of life in Vatolakkos and filled his boyhood memories. There was no better way to pay homage to those traditions and bring people together to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Soil, sun, weather conditions and yearning converged to perfection and gave birth to Manousakis Winery and the first vineyards were planted in 1993. Fourteen years later, I had the same desire as my father, to be more than a mere visitor in my ancestral home.
I left New York City at the age of 23, bound for Crete and our Winery, unsure of what to expect. Little did I know that my journey would be one of such discovery. From discovering my family roots and our beginnings to discovering the vast and in-depth core of our vineyards. This place has found its way into my heart and has been ingrained into my DNA. At my arrival in 2007, we were a tiny winery producing around 35,000 bottles of wine per year. Today we produce 150,000 bottles of wine yearly. Our winery is the culmination of my father’s and my dream to produce and share world class wine in a place that we love.
My passion for our winery and my dad’s legacy has driven me to strengthen the enterprise into a treasure to be handed down generation to generation. We have taken our winery from the small vineyard nestled in the foothills of the mountains to the beautiful thriving winery we are so proud for you to visit. Our philosophy here at the Manousakis Winery is simple. We believe in carefully and organically cultivating our vines to absorb this scent-filled terroir so the flavors 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.
We have grown exponentially not only offering wine tours and tastings, but we have opened our doors to cultural events such as art exhibitions and music nights held under the stars during the beautiful summer evenings, as well as weddings and other private celebrations.
We have also expanded our restaurant to offer an exceptional greek taverna experience along with the tasting of our various wines and offerings. The Manousakis Winery has become an energetic hub that we want to share with our visitors from all across the world and we hope to see you on your next visit to Crete.
Our winery is the realization of my dad, Ted’s dream. It began in 1984, when the hills around the village of Vatolakkos were still untouched by civilization and the wild herbs of Crete were abundant and fragrant. Since my father is neither an oenologist nor a viticulturist, he carefully selected a team of expert consultants including Laurence Feraud, Pascal Marchand, Lucie Morton, Bruce Zoecklein and Yves Herody. They conducted numerous studies and came to the final decision to plant the Mediterranean varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Roussanne. These are the grapes we cultivate to this day. We feel that the environmental conditions and the terroir are ideal for these exquisite varieties. The island of Crete lies at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, and although it is a mountainous island, Crete is a major producer of olive oil, citrus fruits and garden vegetables.
From the outset my dad felt that organic farming was the only way to show respect for nature and the environment.
Being sensitive to the balance of the ecosystem is vital to our philosophy and we are committed to the sustainable development of our vineyards through the use of rigorous earth-friendly practices. Our vineyard team works vine by vine, mostly by hand, in weed removal, leaf thinning, stem thinning, and harvesting. Each vine is treated with individual attention and care. Due to the wide variation of soil conditions, we practice customized farming for the many small plots that make up our vineyard. This "mosaic" style of cultivation is time consuming and often tedious but we believe it is necessary for uniform fruit ripeness and the production of great quality wines.
Our vineyards are situated on the hills just outside the village of Vatolakkos where the soils are predominantly rich in clay and argil, ideal for limited plant growth but great for good soil wringing. The Mediterranean climate keeps us on our toes but provides the conditions needed for delicious grapes.
Since 1993, we have been planting vineyards at elevations of 350 meters (1200 ft) to 650 meters (2100 ft) above sea level, on 13 hectares (32 acres) of rough terrain . Much to our satisfaction, our chosen varieties have thrived and have done exceptionally well in their environment, achieving great balance in the vineyard and finding a comfortable home in Crete.
To date, our wine range has grown and we are currently producing 12 different labels of wine as well as the local grape distillate called Tsikoudia.
We exhibit our wines all over the world and are proud of our numerous awards for the quality of our wines. All of our wines are available for tasting and can be enjoyed on our tasting terrace here at our winery on the outskirts of Chania. We invite you to spend an afternoon with us and our award winning wines.