In chaos and crisis great ideas bloom
In the wake of the deep financial crisis that stormed the Greek economy in 2010, Yannis Valambous decided to change his life and invest both time and money in his passion. He left a successful career as an economist in London to revive the Santorini vineyards he inherited from his grandfather. Alongside a winemaking dream team, he has since built one of the island’s most highly regarded estates.
Location: Vourvoulos, Santorini, Greece
Viticultural standards: Organic non-certified
Interesting fact: Even though Vassalti’s Assystirkos are perhaps their most visible wines on the world stage (as happens with most Santorini producers), they also work with other indigenous varieties. Aidani, Athiri, Savvatiano, Mandilaria and Mavrotragano are the other local grapes from which Vassaltis produce their award-winning range. Their Savvatiano Pét-Nat is an absolute must-try!
As a child, Yannis Valambous spent his summer holidays in Santorini and many of his most-treasured memories are associated with the island’s landscape and culture. In the aftermath of 2010 deep financial crisis, Yannis decided to abandon his career as an economist in London to give form to a dream: reviving the Santorini vineyards he’d inherited from his father and grandfather.
The plan was clear: to use the modest family plots as a springboard to create a state-of-the-art estate capable of producing a range of wines that would be prime examples of Santorini’s grapes and terroir.
Armed with a vision and a business plan, the first step was to build a winery to house the production, ageing and hospitality facilities. The building, inspired by the island’s traditional architecture, is reflective of the principles that guide the project overall: being modern and sophisticated while remaining faithful to the Santorini soul.
After the building was complete it was time to get a team together. Yannis enlisted Yannis Papaeconomou and Elias Roussakis as oenologists and partners in crime. Papaeconomou brought a wealth of international experience working for the likes of Michel Chapoutier, Oyster Bay and Sigalas. Roussakis, on the other hand, has developed an expertise in the Santorini terroir and iconic local grape Assyrtiko.
The dream team, with their perfect combination of experiences and skill sets, has built an unique project, setting a new benchmark for Santorini wines: a high-end approach, expressive of the unique volcanic terroir and highly aware of the international counterparts it must stand up against.