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Down to Earth...

Until recently, organic wines and foods were seen to be made by and catered to earnest hippies and those on the fringes of society. However, a series of food scares from our sheep, cows and chickens, coupled with a rising environmental awareness, has given rise to a rapidly growing demand for organic products. For example, one quarter of the wineries on Crete today are wholly or partially organic.

Organic vineyards such as Nostos (Manousakis) Winery outside of Chania, are committed to the sustainable development of their vineyards through rigorous earth-friendly practices. They can legitimately claim the moral high ground by not using weedkillers or chemicals to counter pests and diseases. In addition, they cannot use quick-fix chemical fertilizers to boost yields, but must rely on naturally composed materials like manure and seaweed. This results in lower yields of grapes which make for a far more concentrated, complex wine.

In the case of organic cultivation of olive trees, a premier example is the Biolea Company, based in Astrikas,south of Kolymbari. Biolea uses traditional millstones and presses to extract the oil, thereby producing an olive oil with all its nutritional benefits intact, with an emphasis on environmental issues and sustainability. Pests such as the dacus fly are controlled with the use of traps rather than pesticides and the trees are fertilized naturally with compost instead of chemicals.

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