A winemaker and agriculturist, Iliana Malihin’s journey into the world of oenology is a tale of dedication to preserving the rich heritage of Cretan land and revitalizing the age-old vineyards of Rethymnon. The inception of Iliana Machilin Winery in 2019 was kind of spontaneous, as she likes to say. Iliana was on a quest to locate ancient Vidiano vineyards in the villages of Rethymno, with the aim of expanding her wine label, Rizes2, which was first introduced in 2018 as a blend of Cretan and Santorini grapes. Her quest eventually led her to the village of Melampes.
“When I was up on the mountain and saw the old vineyards on terraces overlooking the Libyan Sea, I immediately thought that something different should be done there. We must save these vines. The village has to flourish, the inhabitants should not leave the village for the big cities, and one of the most important, Rethymno should take the place it deserves on the wine map”.
Despite the devastating fire that swept through the region in July 2022, Iliana and her team were determined to bring the abandoned vineyards of Melampes back to life. Year by year, the old vineyards became more productive, and the belief was unwavering: in just two years, these vineyards would once again yield exceptional grapes. Iliana’s philosophy is deeply rooted in the history and terroir of Rethymno. She has expanded her vision, seeking out other villages with old vineyards and a storied past in winemaking. Places like Fourfouras, Meronas, Monastiraki, Ardaktos, and more have now become part of the Iliana Machilin Winery story. In each of these villages, Iliana has formed teams of vinegrowers who adhere to strict organic cultivation standards. Throughout the year, these vineyards are carefully supervised. At harvest time, Iliana and her team buy the grapes, including the native varieties Vidiano, Thrapsathiri, and Liatiko. The winemaking process at Iliana Machilin Winery is marked by its low-intervention approach. Indigenous yeast, natural acidity, and an absence of additives or filtering—are the hallmarks of Iliana’s wines that are mirroring their place of birth. The social impact of Iliana Machilin Winery goes far beyond winemaking; it’s a story of revitalization, sustainability, and community development.