The Venetsanos Winery, built in 1949 by the Venetsanos family from Megalochori, was the first industrial winery on Santorini. Giorgos Venetsanos’s family, one of the most prosperous on the island, had left for Cairo, Egypt between the wars and when they returned they bought up large tracts of land, including one in Megalohori, above Athinios bay.
Built on the edge of the caldera, exactly above the Athinios port, the Venetsanos Winery had the quirk that it was designed to take advantage of the law of gravity, compensating for the scarcity of electrical power at the time. Due to the inclination of the soil, it was constructed on four different levels, each devoted to a particular stage of vinification, allowing the wine to flow naturally. On the first level, the so-called terrace, the grapes were received and weighed. Immediately below were the draining machines and the generator which were above the vats and presses. The fourth level down was the basement with the taps for the vats. Pipes took the wine from there down to the port and the ships which would take it to various harbours abroad.
In 1967, Giorgos Venetsanos – always ahead of his time – began bottling white, rosé and red wines.
At some point, the Venetsanos Winery passed into foreign hands and fared badly, but in 2015 the family reacquired it via its scion Nikos Zorzos, an able mayor of the island. After a particularly successful renovation, it is back in operation and is indeed an interesting space very much worth a visit.