Cyprus is rich with beautiful vineyards and offers an array of wineries to visit. The Cyprus Tourist Organisation has compiled six wine routes throughout the island. This year, Gerry from Paphos Wine Tours has described the highlights of the Paphos wine region and its grape varieties. Enjoy!
Here you are in Cyprus, one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world with a history dating back as far as 3500BC. Its ancient capital, Paphos, is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, but the town has an even tastier claim to fame, especially for wine lovers. We start our tour on Paphos Harbour at the mosaics in the House of Dionysus, a UNESCO designated world heritage site, which celebrates this God of Wine and Protector of Vineyards, for one reason: Paphos alone sustains a staggering 43% of the island’s grapevines.
From there we go North to the village of Mesogi, where the Fikardos family have their winery which was founded in 1990 by Mr Theodoros Fikardos, renowned as one of the founding fathers of modern Cypriot wine production. The family produce wines from various grape varieties, a little information on which we’re happy to share with you:
The most important indigenous grape variety in Cyprus is Xynisteri (zini steri). Wines from this grape are recognisable for their distinctive green apple & peach aroma.
The majority of Paphos vineyards are located at between 450 and 1200 metres where the soil is mostly limestone formations and gypsum-clay beds. The region enjoys unique weather conditions which, when combined with this soil, make it the perfect place to cultivate the Xynisteri variety – 50% of the island’s production grows in the Paphos region.
Two rarer varieties also grow at higher levels in the region, Maratheftiko and Spourtiko. The former produces a deep red, full bodied wine whose most common aromas are cherry, dark plums & wild flowers. These qualities appeal to many winemakers. Wines from the latter are delicate, very light with an alcohol content that never exceeds 11%. Their common aromas are grapefruit, lemon zest, and white flowers. Only the Fikardos Winery and the Vouni Panayia Winery currently produce wine from this variety. Top tipple: Spourtiko.
We then move on to the monastery of Chrysorogiatissa where the monks produce three basic wines. The monastery was founded in 1152 but the present building dates from the late 18th century.
Continuing North we turn right towards the village of Polemi to one of the largest wineries in Cyprus, Sodap Kamanterena. This co-operative, which has a large visitor centre, produces around three million bottles per year with about 100 local growers supplying their grapes. You can view the production process from the visitor centre, and enjoy the numerous wines and spirits on offer for tasting including the famous Commandaria wine. This is the oldest commercial wine in the world produced initially by the knights of St John. Top tipple: Commandaria.
Next stop is Panayia village (via the Kannaviou Dam which merits a visit for its scenery alone) to visit the Vouni Panayia winery, run by the Kyriakydes family. The wines produced here are mainly from indigenous grape varieties. In addition to the aforementioned varieties they have also reintroduced Promara (an elegant white) and Yannoudi (an oak aged red) There is an impressive new building with an abundant cellar & an educational facility. Top tipple: Barba Yiannis Maratheftiko.
The penultimate winery on this tour is the Kolios Winery which lies close to Statos village. On 24 hour’s notice they will serve you a meze meal in their restaurant which is attached to a tasting area with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Top tipple: Cornetto Rose.
Heading downhill past Statos Village we approach Amargeti Village (which has a lovely cobbled street, church & museum) where we visit the Kalamos Winery, with palatable wines that are great value for money. Top tipple: the local oak-barrel aged spirit, Zivania.
We hope you enjoy your tour around the Paphos area and enjoy the great wine and scenery on offer – get your taste buds and your cameras at the ready.
Yia mas (to your health) Gerry, Paphos Wine Tours.
Call Gerry – 99 158 312