Food and Wine in Rethymnon, Crete

Food and Wine in Rethymnon, Crete

In part two of our food and wine series, we continue our conversation with Yannis Prokopakis. He is the foodie, wine lover and entrepreneur behind one of the best fine dining restaurants in Rethymnon’s old town quarter called Veneto.

In the second part of our food and wine Q&A with Yannis, we ask him about food and wine in Crete and what makes Rethymnon so special.

Food and Wine in Rethymnon, Crete

AV: Tell us about the history of wine production. What should visitors to Rethymnon know before tasting your special wines?

YP: Crete winemaking goes back to the 5th century BC.  In fact, by the 3rd century BC, wine production was a part of life here. I love the fact that the oldest wine press in Europe, which dates back to more than 3,500 years ago, can be found in Vathipetro, Crete. That’s proof that the oldest civilization of European wine was born in Crete.

I highly recommend that travelers who are interested in the food and wine of Crete check out the impressive amphora, huge underground cellars of wine, at the Minoan Palaces here on the island. By Homer’s time, Cretan wine traveled around the world and our wines were later enjoyed by Roman aristocrats and then by the landowners of the Middle Ages.

Today, Crete is one of the rising modern stars when it comes to Mediterranean wines. Producers and wine makers are dedicated to improving indigenous varieties. The results have been award winning and impressive.




AV:  You have seen a lot of changes in the wine industry and as a restaurant owner in Crete. Tell us about how wine has evolved in Greece.

YP: In the early 60s, there was a rejuvenation of vineyards and wine making techniques across the country. Greek enologists became inspired and brought their knowledge and scientific know-how into production and that changed things here immensely. With the help of winemakers, their efforts contributed to an unprecedented boost in the industry which was been achieved in a few years. It is truly a dynamic sector of Greece’s agricultural economy.

AV: How do you view Cretan cuisine you serve at Veneto? How is it “local.”

YP: At Veneto Restaurant we only use fresh, local ingredients of high quality from the best producers of the area. We source organic vegetables and, of course, only use Cretan olive oil. The Veneto menu is based on traditional Greek and our own very special Cretan cuisine. Our chefs utilize contemporary techniques and the outcome, we believe, is truly special.

AV: A lot of our guests hear about the Cretan diet.  They can try the Cretan diet while dining in Rethymnon, correct?

YP:  Absolutely. Crete has one of the oldest and most amazing food traditions in the world. Our diet is a tradition of flavors, aromas and techniques from prehistoric times until today. The Cretan diet is studied because of its qualities. Cretans have the lowest mortality rates as well as the smallest proportion in global mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

The secret of the Cretan diet is that Cretans eat plenty of vegetables, herbs, legumes and fruits. We flavor food with herbs and plants, such as thyme and basil, plucked from the mountains of the island. When it comes to food and wine – they go hand in hand here. We almost always accompany the meal with wine from the local vineyards. We also bake extremely tasty bread.

The most important element to the Cretan diet is the olive oil which is the main source of healthy fat. However, it is key to point out that in comparison with southern Italy and Spain, the average per capital oil consumption more 15 times more here. Olive oil and wine are solidly linked to the Cretan diet.

AV: Any other food and wine in Rethymnon tips to give our guests?

YP: We recommend that you simply enjoy the amazing food and wine of our island. We are proud to produce such wonderful meals and quality local wines.  Having been in the food and wine industry for decades, I know that people come to love our diet and learn a lot when visiting Rethymnon.

I’d like to add that one of the most famous poems about Rethymnon’s old town says “Rethymnon is the place to return to and not to leave from.”

AV: Ah, good point. We love that saying too. Thank you, Yannis. That was wonderful insight into the food and wine in Rethymnon, Crete.

For more about Veneto, please visit





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Written by Amazing Villas In Crete