Cyprus is rich with beautiful vineyards and offers an array of wineries to visit. The Cyprus Tourist Organisation has compiled 6 Wine Routes throughout the island and we have been lucky enough for Marcos Zambartas, who runs the Zambartas winery with his Father Akis, to write in detail about the local famous wine route ‘Krasochoria Lemesou’. Enjoy!
Deciding to leisure at the luxurious environment of Aphrodite Hills Resort you would never have guessed that the most renowned wine region of the island is just 30km away, ideal for a day out!
Krasochoria (translated ‘The Wine Villages’) is one of the oldest wine producing areas in Cyprus and is the cradle of quality wine making. It comprises of 15 villages which produce grapes for wine making, and many of them host wineries within their boundaries.
Allow yourself enough time to visit one winery before lunch and another after lunch. Winery visits usually take around 1 hour; during which you will learn about the grape and wine production of the area, and of Cyprus in general. The visit will be complete with tasting some of the wines with explanation of their making. The good news is that for small groups the wine tasting is free.
For larger groups there is usually a mere charge of €3.50-€6.00 to cover some of the costs.
To get there, you need to take the highway towards Lemesos. After around 15k you should take the AVDIMOU – PACHNA exit and drive up the mountain through Avdimou village. Beware of goats crossing the street so drive slowly and keep your camera at reach! The land around this area is dedicated to crop production and farming. The numerous gnarled trees producing the ‘black gold of Cyprus’, the carob, are scattered around giving a green tone to the landscape especially in the summer.
Continue driving past Pachna village (on your left) and follow the road towards Ayios Amvrosios. You will reach a T-junction and depending which wineries you have arranged to visit you should either turn left towards Omodos or right towards Ayios Amvrosios.
By now you will probably have seen the first vineyard blocks. The big majority of the vines in Cyprus are trained as a bush, mainly due to the scarce water supply. As a result, vines in Krasochoria are usually low yielding which is a major factor for the top quality wines of the area.
The low yield of the vines seems to have dictated the size of the wineries of the Krasochoria. Most of the wineries are small to medium size and usually family owned.
The exception to the rule is the KEO winery at the entrance of Malia village which produces more than 20% of the wine production of the whole island. The focus of this winery is more on the everyday wines from local and international grape varieties, although lately there has been a tendency to produce higher quality wines.
The nearby village of Ayios Amvrosios hosts our own highly reputable Zambartas winery.
My father and myself established the winery in 2006 and are university trained wine makers, in France and Australia respectively. The focus of our boutique winery is on top end wines from local grape varieties, mainly the white Xynisteri and the reds Maratheftiko and Lefkada. Do not leave from that winery without tasting the Rosé!
Another winery that deserves your time is the newly built Vlassides winery outside Koilani village. Run by the Californian trained wine maker Sophoklis Vlassides, it specialises in wines from French grape varieties cultivated on owned land. The flagship wines are the Shiraz and the upcoming Sauvignon Blanc.
If you have a sweet tooth and appreciate dessert wines, you must visit Ayia Mavri winery in Koilani, just a 5k drive from Vlassides winery. Their Muscat is made from sun dried grapes and is one of the best sweet wines on the island.
Eis eyian! (cheers!)
* Akis sadly passed away in 2014, and we wish the Zambartas our deepest sympathy for their loss