Vilana, an all-time-classic, is a highly-praised Cretan white-wine grape. As with most varieties currently grown in Crete, it is also of Cretan origin. The name is said to originate from the Latin word villanus, meaning rustic.
It is grown all over the island and produces different wines depending on the site. It makes single-varietal wines or blends with other local Cretan grapes.
Vilana flavours can vary from overt and fruity lemony at the lowlands to more mineral and restrained notes of grapefruit and lime at high elevations. It is not uncommon for it to be oak-aged, resulting in creamy and rich wines with an exciting depth of flavours.
Vilana is both a blessing and a challenge to vinegrowers. Although yields are high, they don’t seriously affect quality. However, it is also very vigorous, and growers struggle to manage its intense growth. Care must be taken to protect it against berry fungi, like oidium (also called powdery mildew) and botrytis, which creates grey rot when humidity increases.
It is primarily found in Heraklion in Peza PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), where it is vinified on its own. Vineyard elevations vary between 300 and 600 m (985 and 1,970 ft). Vilana must be 85% of the blend for Chandakas Candia PDO in Heraklion. Many style variations can be created, depending on the blending partner(s).
The other important PDO is Sitia, in eastern Crete. Here, Vilana is blended with 30% Thrapsathiri, another indigenous Cretan variety, giving wines with more boosted aromas.