The Manousakis Winery is the culmination of the dream and passion of founder Theodore Manousakis. Ted, as he is more frequently called, was born in Vatolakkos in 1943, and spent his early childhood years in the village until the age of 11. For reasons much beyond his control and much too complex for a young boy to understand, he left his home to find a better future in the far away “Promised Land”, America.
Following his university education in the U.S., he entered business and was successful in a number of business endeavors including industrial security, real estate development, and hotels. Meanwhile, he assimilated in the great melting pot of the world, America, and nearly forgot his native language and Cretan traditions.
Yet during the years away from his native village he always yearned to return home and find his roots; if not permanently, certainly more than as a mere visitor. Wine was a way of life in the village for as long as he could remember from his boyhood years. What a way to pay tribute to and honor the Cretan traditions and way of life, he thought. And, what a wonderful and civilized way to bring people together to enjoy the simple joys of life! The combination of nostalgia or “nostos”, as the ancient Greeks made reference, along with the perfect soil, sun, and whether conditions of Crete were the driving forces behind our first vineyards in the foothills above Vatolakkos.
For Ted, the Manousakis Winery represents his roots; his yearning to return, his tradition, his heritage, and, above all, his family. Our logo with the three flowers called “Manousakia” in the Cretan dialect, (from which our name is derived), represents his three daughters. It is only fitting that the inspiration of this symbol is a blending of the beauty and exquisite fragrance of nature and the warmth and comfort of family!
Ted Manousakis has his permanent home in Washington, D.C., but the winery remains a family-run business. His youngest daughter, Alexandra, moved to Chania in 2007 following studies at New York University, and now manages the Manousakis Winery.
The Manousakis Winery is the realization of a dream that began in 1984 when the hills around the village of Vatolakkos were still untouched by humans and the wild herbs of Crete were intoxicating to one’s senses. Since Ted is neither an oenologist nor a viticulturist, a carefully selected team of expert consultants conducted numerous studies and the decision was made to plant the varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Roussanne. We felt that the environmental conditions and the terroir were ideal for these exquisite grapes.
The island of Crete lies at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea, one hundred miles from mainland Greece. Largest of the Greek islands, its span is 135 miles from east to west and 30 miles from north to south. Although it is a mountainous island, Crete is a major producer of olive oil, citrus fruit and garden vegetables. In 1993, the first vines were planted at elevations of 350 meters (1000 ft) on 2 hectares. Over the next six years, much to our satisfaction, we observed that the chosen varieties did exceptionally well in their new environment achieving great balance in the vineyard and finding a comfortable home in Crete.
Having achieved these results, in 1999 we started planting an additional 10 hectares of vineyards which brought our winery to a whole new level of wine production. The Manousakis Vineyards are situated on the hills just outside the village of Vatolakkos at elevations of between 350 and 600 meters above sea level (1000-1800 feet). The predominantly sandy soils are rich in clay and argil, ideal for limited plant growth but great for good soil wringing. The climate of this region is typically Mediterranean, with mild rainy winters, and warm dry summers. Gentle breezes keep the air moving. During the growing season, the days are long with sunlight and the nights are quite cool.
The conditions are ideal for healthy grapes free from disease and rot. The vines are mostly oriented in a northeast direction to avoid overexposure to the sun. The plants are closely spaced, one meter between vines and two between rows, or 5,000 vines per hectare. From the outset we felt that organic farming was the only way to show respect for nature and the environment. Being sensitive to the needs of the ecosystem is extremely important in our philosophy. 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 of the vineyard.
This “mosaic” style of cultivation is time consuming, tedious and costly, but, we believe it is quite necessary for uniform fruit ripeness and ultimately, quality wines. In addition to playing with several other varieties on an experimental basis, in 2010 the Manousakis Winery took another step forward and planted the ancient white Cretan variety Vidiano.
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2011 Manousakis Nostos Pink, PGI Chania. 84 points.
Regional: Grilled shrimp. World: crustaceans, shellfish, asian food, spicy grilled chicken, rich pastas, grilled vegetables, cream cheeses.
Bright pink. Medium viscosity. Opulent nose with strawberry, raspberry grenadine and rose aromas. Medium bodied wine with soft acidity and a slight sweetness in the end. An encouraging result for a first release.
2011 Manousakis Nostos Rousanne, Cretan Table wine. 85 points.
Regional: Fried octopus. World: grilled fat fish, shellfish, sushi, vegetarian, fish salads, charcuterie, matured cheeses.
Bright, lemon-green. Good viscosity. Ripe, fleshy, white fruit, honeycomb, dried flowers, butter and vanilla. Dense, full bodied and complex mouth with intense flavor of white fruit.Long finish dominated by vanilla, honey and light oak flavors. Ready to drink now and will develop for the next 3 to 5 years.
2008 Manousakis Nostos Grenache, tablewine Crete. 90 points.
Regional: Lamb ribs. World: prime meat, roasted fowl, rich meat casseroles, organ meat, vegetarian, spicy sausages, matured (Dutch) cheeses.
Clear, deep ruby. Dense viscosity. Intense nose with aromas that emphasize the maturity: red fruit juices, chocolate and sweet spices, mainly vanilla. Dry in the mouth with volume and depth. Ripe and smooth tannins. Long finish with intense presence of ripe, red fruits. Ready to drink now and will remain at its peak until at least 2015.
2009 Manousakis Nostos Alexandra’s, tablewine Crete. 88 points.
Regional: Rack of lamb verbana. World: prime meat, roasted fowl, rich meat casseroles, organ meat, vegetarian, spicy sausages, matured (Dutch) cheeses.
Clear with dense ruby color and rich legs. Fruity aromas that are simultaneously dense and fresh. Aromas include strawberry, black cherry, mulberry, some notes of tobacco and spices. Full and dry mouth with smooth tannins and again, fresh fruit. It has a long and clean finish that accentuates the spices present. Ready to drink now and will remain at its peak for the next 2 to 4 years.
2006 Manousakis Nostos, Manousakis, tablewine Crete. 90 points.
Regional: Lamb Exohiko. World: prime meat, roasted fowl, rich meat casseroles, organ meat, vegetarian, spicy sausages, matured (Dutch) cheeses.
Clear, very dense ruby. Dense viscosity. Intense nose, complex character with ripened black fruit in excellent balance with the oak. Some notes of leather with finesse and freshness. Mouth with volume and density of high but ripened tannins in perfect balance with the rich alcohol and good acid. Complex flavors follow and reflect the aromas. Long finish that accentuates the freshness while maintaining its richness. Ready to drink and will reach its peak in the next 3 to 4 years. It will remain at its peak for the following 5 years.
2010 Manousakis Nostos Syrah, tablewine Crete, 89 points.
Regional: Grilled steak / feta sauce. World: prime meat, roasted fowl, rich meat casseroles, organ meat, vegetarian, spicy sausages, matured (Dutch) cheeses.
Crisp berry fruit on the nose, black pepper, bacon and some burnt notes. Smokey bacon on the palate, compact, dried fruit, dark berries, slightly tart and delicate Mediterranean herbs, dark chocolate, old oak, integrated tannins, full-bodied, solid Syrah character, delicately bitter again on a very good long finish. Excellent value.