Arhanes can be found between the Peza and Dafnes appellations on the northern edge of the island, 7 miles (10km) south of Heraklion. The vineyards sit in a hill basin at the foot of Mount Juktas, at altitudes that rise as high as 1200ft (370m) above sea level. The landscape here is also dotted with olive trees and together, the two crops make up the vast majority of Arhanes's agricultural economy.
The soils of the region are reasonably dense and have high proportions of water-retaining clay and limestone. These soils store ample water during the moderate rainfall of the winter months to keep the vines hydrated over the summer, to the extent that irrigation is not often necessary in the growing season.Like much of Crete, Arhanes enjoys aMediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and moderate winters. The hills that surround Arhanes on the south and west sides protect the vineyards from hot North African winds. Instead, the north- and east-facing vineyards enjoy cooler breezes from the Aegean Sea to the north, which temper the effects of hot sunshine and slow ripening, letting the grapes develop flavor and acidity in balanced measures.
Arhanes is one of only a couple of appellations in Greece that utilize the Kotsifali grape variety (along with the neighboring appellation of Peza). As the aromatic Kotsifali grape lacks color and body, the wines must be blended with 25 percent Mandilaria to add structure and tanninto the finished wines. Increasingly, regional wines are being made in Crete that blend Kotsifali with more-international grape varieties such as Syrah.