Cyprus Wine making history. Until recently, the story of Cyprus wine that we were familiar with dated early wine production on the island back to 2000 BC. However, the most recent excavations on the island added over a millennium to that, when shards found in Pyrgos and Erimi delivered clear evidence of wine production 5,500 years ago. This certainly proves that Cyprus has the soil and the climate to produce wines that were good enough to keep the winemaking tradition alive for so long! Unfortunately, our contemporary wine history does not position our wines at the top of the international list. And yet, winemakers still maintain a sense of pride in both their skills and their produce, and are today more than ever before investing in expertise, science and technology to upgrade their wines and gain recognition locally as well as abroad. A fact that has remained unchallenged, however, is that today, no Cypriot wine is better known than Commandaria, a sweet, robust dessert wine which ranks as the oldest named wine in the world that is still in production. Called “Nama” in antiquity, it so reminded Marc Anthony of Cleopatra’s kisses that he gave the whole island to his legendary lover.
Nama was later renamed after Richard the Lionheart sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar (the Grand Commandarie itself was the estate of the Knights at Kolossi). The oversized Commandaria grapes are grown on the high southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, picked late in the season and sun- dried to enhance the sugar content. The wine is produced by fermentation in open jars. Several other Cyprus wines are produced from indigenous grape varieties. More than 100 varieties are cultivated in all, with vineyards concentrated in two areas: the hills of the Pafos district and the slopes rising from Lemesos towards the Troodos Mountains. More recently, small wineries have started popping up in the vine growing regions, following the example of the one established in the Chrysorroyiatissa Monastery in Pafos. This has brought the total number of wineries in Cyprus to about 40, with their production ranging from a few thousand bottles a year to as much as hundred thousand bottles. Although the small wineries target the upper market, they are still moderately priced compared to the wines of the European chateaux.
Many wineries in both the Pafos and Lemesos regions are open to visitors all year round and well worth a visit. In fact, anyone with an interest in wine and a car at his disposal will thoroughly enjoy a tour of our wine producing villages. Six recommended routes are listed below, which will take you not only to the wineries but also through several picturesque villages, past terraced vineyards, for a wonderful experience of the countryside. Best of all, you can expect most wineries to show you around the premises and offer you a sample of their finest wines. Having tasted their products, you can then purchase as much or as little as you like of your favourite wine to take back home. As opening hours vary, it is best to call in advance to make sure the winery you hope to visit is actually open. Accustomed to welcoming visitors driving through, these villages are also home to family-run taverns that know exactly what it takes to prepare and serve a meal with the taste of home cooking. All in all, these routes make for a wonderful excursion that combines tradition, nature and of course the trademark of Cyprus – our hospitality!
Cyprus national drink is Zivania. Apart from Commandaria, ‘Zivania’ is also closely linked to our winemaking heritage. This clear spirit of high alcohol content is distilled from grapes and best enjoyed well chilled, often served straight from the freezer! Considered to be an excellent digestive, it is also often rubbed on the body for ‘medicinal’ purposes, for example to relieve headaches, colds and other common ailments. Old-faithful Varieties Although Cyprus winemakers are cultivating a number of varietals, some indigenous grapes are just typically Cypriot. These include the widespread ‘mavro’, the famous ‘xynisteri’, as well as ‘maratheftiko’, and ‘ophthalmo’. Check the labels on your favourite bottles! Cyprus Wine Museum 42 Pafos Street, Tel: 25 87 38 08 Established in 2004, the Cyprus Wine Museum in the village of Erimi outside Lemesos was inspired by the fact that Cyprus is one of the first wine- producing countries, and Erimi village lies at the crossroads of the ancient wine routes. Housing a rare collection of ancient jars, vases, vessels, documents and utensils, the Museum provides an overview of our island’s wine history.
Some Wine Routes
1 Laona – Akamas
From Pafos to Mesogi, Tsada, Stroumpi, Kathikas, Pano Arodes, Kato Arodes, Ineia, Drouseia, Polis Chrysochous, Pegeia, Pafos Wineries en route Fikardos Winery, Mesogi, Tel: 26 93 74 39 Kamanterena Sodap, Stroumpi, Tel: 26 63 30 00 Tsalapatis Wines, Polemi, Tel: 99 62 49 29 K&K Vasilikon, Kathikas, Tel: 99 64 70 04 Sterna Winery, Kathikas, Tel: 99 69 90 82
2 Vouni Panagias – Ambelitis From Pafos to Mesogi, Tsada, Stroumpi, Polemi, Psathi Kannaviou, Asprogia, Pano Panayia Chrysorroyiatissa, Agia Moni, Statos-Agios Fotios Koilineia, Galataria, Choulou, Lemona Pentalia, Amargeti, Eledia, Agia Varvara, Acheleia Wineries en route Agroktima Azousa, Kannaviou, Tel: 70 00 88 44 Vouni Panayia Winery, Panayia, Tel: 26 72 27 70 Kolios Winery, Statos-Ag. Fotios, Tel: 26 72 40 90 Chrysorroyiatissa Winery, Panayia, Tel: 99 62 66 42 Chr. Tsanggarides, Lemona, Tel: 26 72 27 77 Shoufas Winery, Koilineia, Tel: 99 44 74 24 Kalamos, Amargeti, Tel: 26 72 32 24
3 Diarizos Valley From Pafos to Acheleia, Kouklia, Nikokleia, Choletria Stavrokonnou, Kelokedara Slamiou, Mesana, Arminou Filousa, Praitori, Ag. Nikolaos Kedares, Agios Georgios, Mamonia, Fasoula, Nikokleia Wineries en route Lakria Winery, Salamiou, Tel: 99 34 69 90 Nelion Winery, Praitori, Tel: 25 44 24 45
4 Lemesos Wine Villages From Lemesos to Kolossi, Erimi, Kantou, Souni-Zanakia, Pano Kivides, Agios Ambrosios, Lofou, Vouni, Kilani, Pera Pedi, Mandria, Kato Platres, Omodos, Vasa, Malia, Arsos Pachna, Anogyra, Avdimou Wineries en route I.M. Gaia Winery, Ag. Ambrosios, Tel: 25 94 39 81 Agia Mavri, Kilani, Tel: 25 47 02 25 Vardalis Winery, Kilani, Tel: 25 47 02 61 Lambouri Winery, Kato Platres, Tel: 70 00 94 63 M Antoniades Winery, Mandria, Tel: 99 82 44 75 Nikolettino Wines, Arsos, Tel: 99 43 71 37 Omodos Zenon Winery, Tel: 99 49 29 79 Vasa Winery, Vasa, Tel: 99 58 88 48 Keo, Malia, Tel: 25 94 21 31 Nikolaides Bros, Anogyra, Tel: 25 22 17 09 Linos Winery, Omodos, Tel: 25 42 27 00
5 Commandaria From Lemesos to Kolossi, Erimi, Alassa, Monagri, Ag. Georgios Silikou, Doros, Laneia, Trimiklini, Ag. Mamas Kapileio, Zoopigi, Kalo Chorio, Ag. Pavlos, Ag. Konstantinos, Louvaras, Gerasa, Apsiou, Paramitha, Palodeia, Agia Fyla Wineries en route Winegrowers Coop, Kalo Chorio, Tel: 25 54 22 66 Panagiotis Karseras, Doros, Tel: 99 41 32 38
6 Pitsilia From Lemesos to Agia Fyla, Palodeia, Alassa, Trimiklini, Pelendri Potamitissa, Dymes, Kyperounta, Chandria, Polystypos, Alona, Agros, Ag. Ioannis, Ag. Theodoros, Zoopigi Wineries en route Vasiliko Kyperounta Winery, Kyperounta, Tel: 25 53 20 43 Tsiakka Winery, Pelendri, Tel: 25 99 10 80 Ays Ambelis Winery, Kalo Chorio, Tel: 99 65 13 61 Hadjiantonas Winery, Parekklisia, Tel: 25 99 11 99