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26 April 2023

Unexpected Hailstorm Damages Santorini's Central Vineyards

By Yiannis Karakasis MW

Santorini, the pride of the Cyclades and the Aegean Sea is known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and profound volcanic "in-soul" wine. However, last Saturday, April 22, the island experienced an unexpected and destructive hailstorm that lasted for around eight minutes. The hailstorm hit the central part of the island, including the areas of Pyrgos, Megalochori, and Emporeio, causing significant damage.

"The precise extent of the damage is still being assessed," says producer Mathew Argyros, but it is focused on these areas. Fortunately, other areas, such as Karterados, Messaria, Exo Gonia, and Episkopi, were less affected. However, the young shoots in the areas where the hail was heaviest suffered damage ranging from 10 to 40% of their length, according to Petros Vamvakousis of historic Venetsanos winery.

It is still being determined how much the yields will be affected. Still, early assessments suggest a possible loss of around 300-500 tonnes, reducing the expected harvest from 2000 to about 1500-1700 tonnes (provided a smooth rest until harvest). "It is a pity the hailstorm hit the best part of the vineyard," comments producer Artemis Karamolegos, adding that yields are expected to be much lower, around 20-30%, compared to the last vintage.

The hailstorm came at a crucial time for Santorini's vineyards following a late harvest and a generous 2022, and while producers' hopes were high as the island is establishing its reputation for producing world-class top-notch wines.

Pictures provided by Petros Vamvakousis

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