White, red, and pink juicy grapes will definitely attract your attention when visiting Crete. This crop has played a huge role in the local people's lifestyle since the times of Homer. There are lots of species of grapes, which have different colours and unique tastes. The main native varieties growing in Crete are Kotsifali, Liatiko, Mandilari, Plito, and many others. There are also some international varieties, like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Rouge, Merlot, etc.
Kotsifali has a red colour and solid alcohol content. You can find them in the Heraklion area. Liatiko is a very old type of grape with a unique taste—a mix of dry and sweet. The next is known as "the King of the local grapes"—Mandilari, which has a very dark colour and good acidity. Due to these kinds of grapes, Crete is considered to be the leader of winemaking in the region.
The harvesting time runs from mid-August until early October. You can observe or participate as a volunteer. Starting from late July, all Cretan villages start celebrating wine festivals. One of the most famous celebrations is hosted by Rethymno town. It's a great chance to try Cretan wines for free, enjoy folk music, traditional food, dance a lot, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.