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Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

Wine Tours

 


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Greece - Wine, Cuisine, History and Culture

12 Days - 2018 or 2019 All-Inclusive accompanied tour

to Crete, Santorini, Peloponnese and Athens IN PLANNING

Send Steve an email if this trip interests.

FAQ | Register | Price | Itinerary | Previous Tour Photos/Videos | Trip Extension

Below you will see details on the itinerary for the 2015 edition. A similar tour could be run in 2018 or 2019 provided there is sufficient interest.

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com if you would like to find out more on this trip and to get an idea of the plan and the price.


Imagine fall in the vineyards of Greece. With its warm climate, magnificent ancient treasures and natural beauty, Greece is truly a feast for the senses. Join wine personality and WineAlign.com partner and principal critic Steve Thurlow as he leads an 12 day excursion of discovery and enjoyment.

Visit wineries, see some of the world's best Bronze Age, Mycenaean and ancient Greek ruins, learn how to cook Cretan style, discover the importance of the Cretan diet to health, dine in splendid traditional settings at wineries with their owners and winemakers, bathe in the warm Mediterranean and soak up the warm autumn sunshine.

Experience Santorini, one of the world's most beautiful places, wander in streets little changed since antiquity and shop in traditional markets for the freshest produce.

In September each year after summer in Toronto, there is plenty of warm sunshine in southern Greece; daily highs of 25-27°C and lows of 16-18°C.

Greece today has many fine wines and a truly splendid cuisine. For many Greece is just retsina, souvlaki and moussaka. That is an unfortunate tourist image. This tour will prove just how wrong is that impression. It did require considerable research to find the great Greek wineries we will visit, but rest assured there is great Greek wine and a rich cuisine to be discovered.

 

Wine for Life presents an accompanied wine, food and cultural visit to southern Greece. We will explore the leading vineyards and wineries and be introduced to the local cuisine under the attention of one of Crete's master chefs.

As well as tasting and dining at all the major wineries we will find time to visit Knossos and Festos in Crete, and Mycenae, Ancient Nemea, and Epidavros in the Peloponnese. Staying in three seaside hotels near Malia on Crete, Thira on Santorini and Nafplion in the Peloponnese, the visit will culminate with a one day visit to the centre of Athens including the Acropolis.

Click to see photos/videos of previous trips to Greece in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and 2015.

 

 

If all this sounds like too hectic a pace, don't worry. There will be time for relaxing by the pool in the warm sunshine and wandering around some of the beautiful towns and villages that lie along our route.

 

Athens Extension

For those who can spare another few days we suggest staying on a while longer to visit Athens.

Register for Tour

If you wish to join this tour....

Email: Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Price

The price for the all-inclusive trip in 2015 was C$4695 per person. Single supplement on request.

A non-refundable deposit of C$500 per guest is required to secure a place on this tour. Final payment for the trip is required 120 days prior to departure. Guests are advised to take trip cancellation insurance, which we are happy to provide. Please request a quotation when registering for the trip.

The trip price assumed double occupancy twin/double rooms and includes all hotels, continental breakfasts, winery visits and tastings, and 12 meals with wines. Also included are the high speed ferry from Heraklion to Santorini and a flight on Aegean Airlines from Santorini to Athens (air taxes, fees and surcharges not included), plus luxury coach transportation elsewhere.

Guests were required to make their own travel arrangements to the hotel in Heraklion and home from Athens. Air Canada currently flies direct from Toronto and connects with Star Alliance partner, Aegean Airlines, for flights to Heraklion. Flights can be booked using Aeroplan points including the Heraklion flight.

 

 
   

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Itinerary

(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)


Day 1: Malia, Crete Monday


We meet at Alexander Beach Hotel in Malia. There are no scheduled activities until the evening on this day.

 

Located right on the beach the hotel buildings are surrounded by lush gardens with a beautiful main pool. The hotel comprises low storey buildings and bungalows. The resort stretches out along a beautiful sandy beach with over 400m of private sandy beachfront and several swimming pools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a chance to rest after the flight at the hotel, in the evening there will be a welcome cocktail gathering followed by a relaxing dinner at the hotel.

 

 

A selection of wines will be served with a buffet designed to show off the diversity and richness of Cretan cuisine. (D)

 

 

 

Day 2: Cooking School, Knossos and Boutari Winery, Crete

After breakfast, the morning will be filled with a cooking class. Assist with the preparation of lunch under the expert guidance of Christos Veneris and his team.

 

Learn about the range of fresh produce, herbs, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits that are available.

Cretans are at the top of the world’s longevity list due to a low incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disease, largely attributable to diet and lifestyle. This will be explained in detail during the cooking class and over the lunch.

 
 
We will sample wines from the Lyrarakis Winery during lunch.  
The afternoon will be free for relaxing at the hotel or catching the sun on the beach.    

Late afternoon we depart for a guided visit to Knossos the world famous archaeological site from Bronze Age Crete.

 

Afterwards we continue to the Boutari winery for a tour and tasting followed by a light supper. (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 3: Festos and Dafnes, Crete

Up early this morning to cross to the south of the island to visit the ruins of Festos before the heat of the day. This is the second most important Bronze Age settlement discovered on Crete.

 

After Festos, we will visit Ktima Zaharioudaki Winery perched on top of a hill nearby with a splendid view over the southern plain. There will be a tasting followed by a traditional Cretan lunch.

 


 


 

 
   

We then head back to our hotel in Malia. (B,L)

Day 4: Agios Nikolaos, Crete

This is a day for relaxing at the hotel. Walking along the beach, checking out the stores in the nearby village, or sitting by the pool with a good book.

 

 

Late afternoon we depart for a visit to the picturesque nearby town of Agios Nikolaos about 30 minutes away. There will be time for shopping or sitting watching the fishermen while enjoying a glass of ouzo.

 

As dusk falls the town comes to life and there are many restaurants and tavernas with music and dancing. We return to the hotel late in the evening. (B)


 

 

 

 

Day 5: Sitia and Moni Toplou, Crete

After breakfast we depart for a visit to the less developed eastern part of the island. We pass over the coastal mountains to Sitia and then to Moni Toplou.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This monastery, in a remote corner of the island, is famous for its production of olive oil and wine. The visit will include a visit to the monastery church and museum which holds priceless relics, documents and icons.

 

 
   
   

Abbot Filotheos will be our host as we visit the facilities for wine and olive oil before taking a traditional lunch with the monks and the Abbot in their refectory.

 
   

The drive back to our hotel is towards the setting sun.

(B,L)

 

 

Day 6: Crete to Santorini

 

After breakfast we check out of our Malia hotel and depart for the high speed ferry that will take us to Santorini where we arrive at midday.

This large green catamaran can take up to 154 cars and over 800 passengers and has a maximum speed of 42 knots. It is an amazing piece of modern engineering.

We will be in business class, where there is more room to move around during the two hour crossing.

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after our arrival in Santorini we will be checking in to our hotel, Aegean Plaza in Kamari close to the beach, where you will be free to explore the many local tavernas and cafes, to take a swim in the crystal clear waters or maybe to relax by the pool.

 

 

 

That evening the nearby Santos Winery will host a tasting of many of the wines of the island followed by a dinner. The winery is perched on the rim of the caldera and is famous for sunset views over the sea. (B,D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7: Santorini


After a breakfast we depart for a visit to Fira town. Some will want to visit the museum of Prehistoric Santorini, some may prefer shopping or to wander the town.

Late morning we will be at the Boutari winery for a tasting and lunch before returning to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon.

 

 

 
Early evening we drive along the rim of the caldera to the north of the island towards the town of Oia, stopping for a tasting at the Sigalas Winery.  
 
After the tasting at Sigalas it is time to visit the town of Oia and to experience one of the world most famous sunsets.    
That evening we will take dinner in a seaside taverna along with many of the winemakers of Santorini.    

The seafood is so fresh, you will see it being landed a few feet from the restaurant. (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 8: Santorini to Peloponnese

We leave first thing for the airport for our 50 minute flight to Athens. We then drive south into the Peloponnese region stopping for a tour, tasting and light lunch at Domaine Skouras.

 

After Dom. Skouras we drive south and are soon in the port town of Nafplion where we check in to Pensione Marianna late that afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening will be free to explore this port town which was once the capital of Greece.

 

There are many restaurants to choose from, with the focus on seafood. (B,L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Mycenae and Nemea

We leave this morning to visit the nearby ruins of the city of Mycenae for a guided tour.

There are buidings dated to 1200 BC to be seen.

 

The city was the base for an empire that became the dominant power in the region including Crete and Santorini between 1400 and 1200 BC around the supposed time of the Trojan war. The civilization that flourished here established many of the principles that later developed into classical Greek society.

We return to the hotel late morning for some free time to wander in Nafplion or maybe lounge on the beach.


Late afternoon we leave for the Koutsi region to visit the Gaia Estate. We take dinner in a small tavena in a nearby town. (B,D)

 

 

Day 10: Nemea


This morning we will visit the site of Ancient Nemea, one of the locations of the classical games that were the basis for the modern Olympic Games.

 

 

We then go to Palivou winery for a tasting and lunch before we head over the hills with breathtaking views of the Nemea Valley to the Kartogi Winery for a tasting.

Late afternoon we return to the hotel. Evening is free. (B,L)

 

Day 11: Epidavros, Corinth and Athens


 

After breakfast we check out of the hotel for the short drive to Epidavros. Here we visit the amazingly well preserved enormous open air theatre built in the 4th century BC.

The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the proscenium to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating.

 

 

We then head towards Athens stopping briefly to wonder at the Corinth canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.

 

It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland and therefore effectively making the former an island. The canal is 6.3 km. in length and was built between 1881 and 1893.

The Corinth Canal is considered a great technical achievement for its time. It saves the 400 km long journey around the Peloponnese for smaller ships, but since it is only 21m wide it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters.

 

By lunchtime we will be in the centre of Athens in the famous Plaka market district for shopping and a bite to eat or to visit some of the ancient monuments.

 

 

Late afternoon we gather at the Acropolis for a guided tour of the Parthenon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then head to the airport to check into the 5 star luxury Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. Our closing group dinner at the hotel will bring our trip to a conclusion usually with a reprise of the best wines discovered on our travels. (B,D)

Day 12: - Athens/Toronto Friday

This morning those returning home simply have to walk across the street to check in for their flights. Breakfast can be taken at the airport prior to boarding flights.

Athens Extension

The main itinerary stops for only a few hours in the magnificent city of Athens to give a glimpse of what there is to see. Some travelers will return at a later date but some may wish to extend the tour by staying a few additional nights unaccompanied in downtown Athens delaying their return flight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age range of the group?

These tours appeal to a wide range of ages, since we can love wine, food and travel at all stages of life. Typically the range is from 30 to 65 though we have had some older and younger than this join in the past.

Do you need to be a wine connoisseur to participate?

Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment, of the wine, food, culture and history of the region. You will certainly return home with a greater appreciation of wine. I have been told it is impossible to spend 11-12 days travelling with me without learning more about how wine is made and enjoyed with food.

Is the trip price really all-inclusive?

Almost all costs other than souvenirs, an occasional cup of coffee and maybe a slice or two of pizza are included. I frequently hear that there is too much wine and too much food such that, during free periods, people don’t want to eat anything substantial.

These trips seem to be very reasonably priced, what is the catch?

I only run two or three trips per year to places to which I would be going anyway; so why not take a few others along with me? These trips are not a fundamental part of what I do in life and so I price them reasonably so all can afford to join. Additionally I receive sponsorship subsidies from wine regions and wineries who are keen to show off to my guests their splendid products and services in the hope that they will spread the word.

We have never traveled with a group before; will there be enough free time?

I used to dislike traveling on buses with groups and also found I needed time away from the group. Consequently we have frequent stops to do stuff when we are traveling by bus plus the schedule has lots of free time built in. Moreover nothing is compulsory, other than when we move between hotels, so people sometimes take a day off to laze by the pool or enjoy the beach or wander around the locale.

 

Conditions

The above itinerary is as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries and to arrange accommodation at similar standard hotels in the towns mentioned. Prices are for double occupancy in twin and double rooms (single supplement on request), the flight is in economy on a scheduled flight. Air and hotels subject to availability. The price covers the hi-speed ferry trip to Santorini from Heraklion, the flight from Santorini to Athens (air taxes, fees and surcharges not included), ground transportation in Greece, bed and breakfast hotel accommodation and 12 meals with wine.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380

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