The History

1870 – From Laconia to Santorini

It all started in the fateful year 1870, when two of the Koutsogiannopoulos brothers, the 22-year-old Grigorios and the 24-year-old Dimitrios, decided to leave their home in Katavothra Molaon, a small picturesque town in the Laconia Prefecture of the Peloponnese peninsula, and sail with their boat to Syros island in pursuit of business opportunities and a better life. However, fate had other plans for the two brothers; strong west winds raging out in the open blew them off course, compelling them to land to an unknown place which they would later call their new-found home: Santorini.
At the time, maritime trade was flourishing in the seemingly barren island of Santorini  since there were many safe bays for sailboats around the volcano, but most importantly, because the whole island was a transit nexus on the way to Crete and Egypt.

From their very first contact with the island, the young Koutsogiannopoulos brothers saw in Santorini great opportunities for commercial ventures and started trading olive-oil that they transferred in wineskins from their home town. They also realized that even though Santorini was a dry island it hid a treasure chest in its terrain, a lush green carpet — vines.
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And so, thanks to their business acumen and hard work, they managed to acquire land to set up a winery, along with a fleet of sailboats to take their business to far away prosperous vends, and devoted themselves to the cultivation of vines and the production of wine. Traders that they were, it was not hard for them to open up to new markets for Santorinian wine and establish considerable financial standing within two decades — a remarkable achievement by the socioeconomic standards of the time.

Yet all of the above would not have been brought about, without the decisive contribution and solidary “sacrifice” of the third brother, Theodoros. Theodoros served in the Greek army completing three terms of military service: one for himself, and the other two for his brothers — nine years in total! In this way, his brothers did not have to interrupt their trade by forced military service and leave the market risking everything they built. Of course, the two brothers made sure that Theodoros was provided for, so they gave him all their property in home town — a powerful example of brotherly love from another time.

From 1870 to 1917, their main export destination was Odessa, Russia. The wine was poured from wineskins (mainly made from goatskin) into barrels, and then the barrels were transported by sailboats. The Russian people showed a preference for the dry wine of Santorini due to its high alcohol levels (17 – 18% alc), as well as Vinsanto, the flagship traditional sweet wine of Santorini, which they used at Holy Communion.