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The Cherry Tomatoes of Santorini & the Industrial Tomato Museum of D. Nomikos

Tomatoes

It might be hard to believe due to Santorini’s volcanic soil, but the cherry-sized tomato of Santorini has been cultivated on the island since the end of the 19th century. The cherry tomatoes of Santorini have a distinctive flavor with a hard peel and high sugars making it ideal for the production of tomato paste. Although not irrigated, the cherry tomato grows due to the morning moisture withheld from the soft volcanic soil with the pumice stones it contains. According to folklorist Ioannis Kyriakos, the cherry tomato of Santorini was cultivated on the slopes of Prophet Elias before spreading to the rest of the island. In the beginning, the cherry tomatoes were cultivated in order to cover the nutritional needs of the residents. However, this changed following the October Revolution when all the commercial transactions between Santorini and Russia were interrupted. Until then, the largest share of the Vinsanto and wine production was absorbed from Russia. In 1919, there was a turn from vine growing to tomato cultivation, as it was considered to be more profitable at that time. Tomato cultivation spread around the world and soon became very popular. Soon after the tomatoes cultivation began, the first tomato paste industries opened following the inauguration of canning factories for the standardization of the product. The first was set up from Dimitrios Nomikos at Monolithos in 1922. By 1940, there were three tomato-processing units in Santorini. Although the exact number of plants operating is unknowable, it is estimated that there were nine at that time. Unfortunately, the devastating earthquake of 1956 forced the industries to either close their factories or move to other regions of Greece. Nonetheless, the Union of Santorini Cooperatives supported those islanders who kept cultivating the cherry tomato, as it has been operating since 1952. However, the introduction of mass tourism to Santorini made farmers leave tomato cultivation, since tourism was more lucrative than farming.

The Industrial Tomato Museum of D. Nomikos

Location: Vlychada Telephone: 0030.22860. 85147 Website: Tomatomuseum.gr

Tomato-Museum

In 1915, Dimitrios Nomikos started the production of tomato paste in a small pre-industrial technology plant in the village of Messaria. In just seven years, he decided to build one of the first tomato canning factories in the Balkans, a state-of-the-art technology factory at that time. In 1945, the son of Dimitrios, George, builds the plant in the center of the best tomato producing area of the island in Vlychada. Worth saying that the area had a daily capacity of 3.500 baskets! Following several destructions and heavy weather conditions, the cherry tomatoes survived the devastating earthquakes of 1956 and George Nomikos expands his activities on the island of Kos. At that time, Santorini used to have 9 tomato factories reaching its peak period, as the product was sold all over Greece! Although Nomikos family started exports to Europe and built a new factory in continental Greece by 1971, the factory ceased its operations after the last crop of 1981. On that year, Nomikos Company opened a new plant in Domokos of Fthiotis, which, along with the Aliartos plant, still work. The historical tomato factory of D. Nomikos is an exquisite sample of industrial architecture that offers to its visitors a journey back in the past of Santorini. The museum presents the cultivation, processing and production of tomato through a wide collection of machinery and tools that date back to 1890. Carved into the wild sceneries of Santorini, the tomato museum is a rare industrial museum in Greece. The historical tomato factory of D. Nomikos has been transformed into a modern Industrial Tomato Museum offering to its visitors a journey back to the industrial past of Santorini. The museum provides a spectacular exhibition of the cultivation, processing and production of the cherry tomatoes of Santorini. Within the premises of the museum, the visitors will experience all the traditional methods followed from the tomato producers of Santorini. These include a full range of the processing machinery dating back to 1890, hand-written account books of the plant, a variety of hand-written notebooks regarding various aspects of the factory, old tools, the first labels used, a dated history of the island of Santorini, its inhabitants and their unique tradition as well as audiovisual material with narrations of people who worked in the plant, witnessing their firsthand experiences of a by-gone industrial era.

 

The Wine of Santorini, the Winery of Santo Wines & Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum

Wine

The vineyard of Thera is considered to be one of the most peculiar in the entire planet. Can you imagine harvesting grapes in such a volcanic soil, where one of the largest volcanic events on earth in recorded history took place? Indeed, the wines of Santorini distinguish worldwide for its smell and taste. The vines of Santorini flourish, as they withstand drought and its roots penetrate the Theran land. The vineyards of Santorini have played an important role in the life of the island, since their production exceeded the needs of the population, thus exporting it in collaboration with the rich shipping industry of the island, and creating a unique advantage on the island’s economy on its heyday. The local grape varieties produce wines of high quality that withstand the distinctive ecosystem of Santorini, as the cultivated region begins at a height of 300 meters whose vines go all the way down to the sea level. The varieties of Santorini include the white Asyrtiko, the best known variety of the Mediterranean grapevine, the red Mandilaria and Mavrotragano, the sweet red award-winning Vinsanto, produced from Aidani and Asyrtiko then harvest and aged in wooden vats, and the traditional Nykteri made with three white grape varieties including white Asyrtiko, gentle Athiri and aromatic Aidani. Quite interesting are the Santorinian kanaves, the old wineries where vinedressers used to cultivate their vineyards. Wineries used to be rock-hewn underground. The origins of the vineyards of Santorini are ancient enough, since excavations in the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri reveal that grapes were grown on the Theran land since the 17th century BC. In fact, wine making and wine trade were crucial activities for the inhabitants at that time. However, the prehistoric vineyard was destroyed from the Minoan eruption in 1600 BC. The Phoenicians, the first colonists of Santorini following the devastating disaster, cultivated various plants according to Herodotus, but only vines managed to survive over the centuries. One could say that the vinedressers of Santorini have been cultivating vineyards for more than 3.200 years! A quite impressive fact about its vineyards is the ancient pruning technique; the vinedressers adopted a primitive pruning technique, the so-called kouloura, to limit their need for water and protect plants from strong winds. The plants are pruned to form a low vegetable basket where grapes are protected and mature without the risk of being damaged fro the sand and wind. Today, the vineyards of Santorini are tone of the few self-rooted vineyards of Europe!

 
The Winery of Santo Wines

Location: Pyrgos Telephone: 0030.22860.22596 Website: Santowines.gr

SantoWines

The Union of Santorini Cooperatives is the largest wine producer of the island that established in 1947. Santo Wines represents all the vine cultivators of the island committed in producing authentic Santorini wines of superior quality, while respecting Santorini vilification tradition, protecting the precious Santorini vineyard and its sustainable development. Made with care and love, Santo Wines built a new state-of-the-art winery for their continuous improvement of the quality of their wines with respect to the 3.500 years wine tradition of Santorini.

The Wine Museum of Koutsoyannopoulos

Location: Vothonas Telephone: 0030.22860.31322 Website: Wine-museum-koutsoyannopoulos.gr

Koutsoyanopoulos

Holding the reigns of the sole underground museum of Greece, Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum is dedicated to Santorini’s rich history in wine making since the 17th century. Koutsoyannopoulos family devoted twenty-one years of hard work to create this unique museum funded exclusively from them. Their excessive love and passion for tradition and wine was the driving force behind the completion of the museum. The museum has a labyrinth shape eight meters below the ground. The stages of the winemaking process and the entire range of machinery and tool are presented in chronological order. The rare winemaking machinery and tools of the museum will travel you to another era while the automatic audio guide will help you understand the entire process of wine making. Koutsoyannopoulos family continues to produce high quality wines where you can taste them in the wine tasting room. Undeniably, Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum does worth a visit for another experience on the island of Santorini!