Heraklion Prinias Carved Wine Presses

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Location: Prinias

Situated near the Dafnes region, where one of the island’s four present-day appellations is located, the Prinias Carved Wine Presses are an excellent example of the winemaking traditions of Crete.

The Prinias stamping presses are carved into limestone and, although they have been weathered over centuries of disuse, the different parts can still be easily discerned: the basins where the grapes were stamped on linked to lower basins, where the juice would gather, through small troughs in the stone.

These presses would have been used extensively during the Venetian period of the island, before passing into disuse as wine production lessened during the subsequent Ottoman period. Nowadays, the presses are no longer used, as Cretan winemaking has adopted more modern techniques, but they serve as an intriguing testament to days gone by. However, vineyards are still common in the area, as are olive groves and other agricultural fields, with wild oak trees dispersed throughout the vicinity forming a small forest.

During the late medieval and early modern periods, when Crete was under Venetian control, the island’s sweet wines, especially those produced in Heraklion, were held in very high regard in western and northern Europe. The stamping presses at Prinias date to this era.
Back in the day, before the development of the basket press, juice was extracted from grapes by stamping on the fruit, an image often associated with Greece and verily part of traditional Greek winemaking well into the 20th century, despite the advances of technology. This method of pressing grapes sees the fruit placed in stone basins, where winemakers stand and tread or stamp on the grapes, letting the juice flow into a run-off drain.

Trails have been designated by the local community, with stone paving and wooden railing where necessary, as well as wooden signposts indicating the direction of the presses, creating a welcoming environment for trekkers.



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