Limnos (Lemnos) is a wine-producing island in the northern Aegean Sea, just 40 miles (65km) off the coast of the Halkidiki peninsula. There are two officially delimited PDO-level appellations on the island, one for the production of sweet wines and the other for dry wines. Both utilize the Muscat of Alexandria grape variety, known locally as Moschato Alexandrias or English Vines, which makes up the vast majority of Limnos's plantings.
Limnos is one of Greece's larger islands, and stretches some 20 miles (32km) from east to west. The island is, by Greek standards, fairly low-lying and as such is susceptible to high winds, mostly during the winter. Most vineyards are located on the southern side of the island, where a series of shallow valleys serves to protect vineyards from these strong northerly winds. The majority of Limno's wineries are located here, around the villages of Atsiki, Moudros and Nea Koutali.
Despite the high winds, Limnos has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild, rainy winters, although temperatures here are usually lower than on the mainland. The buffeting winds bring cooling influences into the vineyards during the growing season, tempering the effects of warm sunshine and extending the ripening period. This allows grapes to retain acidity as they develop complex aromatics, and as such Limnos wines are often bright and fresh. Volcanic soils with low fertility help to stress the vines, lessening vigor and yields and resulting in small, concentrated grapes.
Dry white wines made on the island from Muscat come under the PDO Limnos category, while wines made in a vin doux naturel style are labeled as PDO Muscat of Limnos. It is important to note that while there are five appellations in Greece bearing the prefix 'Muscat of', this is the only one that refers to Muscat of Alexandria – the others are all based on Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains.
Wine has been made on Limnos for centuries, and Homer mentions the high quality of the island's wines in the Iliad. Historically, Limnos has produced more red wine than white, despite current appellation laws, and prior to the early 20th Century the island's vineyards were planted to Kuntra, Fokiana and Limnio. Muscat of Alexandria was introduced to the island's vineyards in the 1900s, and its compatibility with the island's terroir has seen it eclipse all other grape varieties by a long way.