In 2014, Imerys Industrial Minerals Greece S.A. (ex S&B Industrial Minerals SA) decided to start a new economic activity at the site of a restored perlite mine in Milos Island. A feasibility study and a business plan were initially carried out to assess the initiative’s sustainability. Then, in February 2014 the planting of 17,500 vines of a Cyclades variety (Assyrtiko) in the first 5 acres of Imerys’s vineyard was concluded at a rehabilitated part of an active perlite mine in Trachilas. The Thrachilas mine is still active in other parts where extraction of perlite is still taking place.
In February 2016, the planting of 13.1 acres of red Cyclades variety was concluded in a nearby place: 3,000 plants of Mavrotragano, 1,700 plants of Mantilaria and 100 plants of Psarosyriko.
Vineyard cultivation continues with the same interest as new challenges emerge each year. New methods of dealing with high salinity are being tested, as well as methods of dealing with diseases that usually occur in Cycladic vineyards.
Viticulture is one of the traditional, yet today abandoned, economic activities of the island. Historical sources testify that in 1930 2,200 acres of vineyards were cultivated on the island with a 250 tonnes per year wine production. The viticulture was abandoned almost entirely due to a phylloxera "epidemic". Imerys chose to revive this activity building on a tradition that is already ingrained in the island’s history and testimonials.
Imerys applies an organic cultivation method thus promoting the protection and conservation of the environment. Irrigation water (invaluable in the Cyclades, which are characterized by long droughts) is recycled. The activity also aims to encourage Milos’ residents to begin using more environmentally friendly farming methods. In this respect, free training seminars have been organized by Imerys on Milos, educating locals that already cultivate or wish to revive small family vineyards, urging them to start using organic agricultural methods to produce quality local organic wine.
The new activity aims also to educate visitors about industrial minerals, abundant on the island of Milos. Minerals are almost everywhere in our everyday-life, even in wine-production. Sulfur used to protect the crop from disease in organic winegrowing, bentonite used for wine stabilization and perlite used in wine clarification are prominent examples of Milos’ minerals used in viticulture and wine production.
Finally, the activity will also serve to attract visitors to the island since wine production is intertwined with culture, hospitality, quality, and tradition.