The wine industry of Rhodes is intrinsically associated with the acronym CAIR or Compagnia Agricola Industriale Rodi, the winery founded by a group of investors from Italy in1928.
The winery was not only responsible for keeping alive the industry of grape cultivation but also for making the island one of Greece’s few areas that produce wine whose vineyards grew after the Second World War. The Bodossakis Group took ownership of the company when the Dodecanese Islands become a part of the state of Greece in 1947. CAIR was then sold off to Dodecanese Association of Agricultural Cooperatives in 1957.
CAIR rose to remarkable popularity as a producer of sparkling wines with its Rosé and Velvet Reserve labels that make up outstanding examples of the complex sparkling wines.
Before the burgeoning middle class of Greece discovered the imported champagnes, each CAIR bottle was considered a cause for celebration based on an old ad, with yearly sales reaching 1.5 million bottles. The company has also been focusing on quality still wines for a few years now, including the Rodos 2400, introduced in 1992 in celebration of the 2,400 years since the establishment of Rhodes Town.
Emery is the other big wine producer in Rhodes, established in 1923, with its name taken after the 41st Grand Master of the Knights of St John, Emery d’ Amboise, who served in the position from years 1503 through 1512.
The third generation of Triantafylloy family now runs Emery and has been producing wine ever since mid-1960s and established its current winery in 1974. This winery located in Embonas village is among the largest in Greece, perched at an altitude of 700 meters. Their vineyards cultivated on Mt. Attavyros’ northwesterly slopes are popular for the quality of their Amorgiano and Athiri grapes.
In addition to these, Rhodes also has several small artisanal wineries including Alexandris Family Winery established in 1968 and has been producing a selection of several very interesting wines under the management of Panayiotis Alexandris, a third-generation winemaker who graduated from the acclaimed university of Montpellier.
The winery has approximately four hectares of vines that produce only around 20,000 bottles per year, with every label representing up to 2,000 bottles. The aged examples of the own-rooted Athiri from 700 meters of altitude that matures on the lees for around 11 months are relatively more powerful compared to what is expected from the variety that boasts of a long aftertaste and an intense smokiness. You can also find other equally interesting small wineries in Rhodes Island such as Tatakis and Kounakis.