Cyprus’ love affair with wine is ages old, in fact archaeological excavations indicate that production of wine on the island dates back more than 5500 years, making it one of the very oldest wine industries in the world. This history continues to be written by today’s winemakers who use traditional indigenous grape varieties along with well known grape varieties to produce some wonderful wines which we highly recommend you try for yourself.
Places of interest in the historic story of wine making include the picturesque villages of Omodos and Laneia, where you can view the most ancient of wine presses: Laneia’s dates back to 1844 which is the same year that the first contemporary winery ETKO Ltd opened.
Paphos Mosaics also beautifully depict wine making and consumption.
You simply cannot discuss wine making in Cyprus without mentioning Commandaria, an amber coloured desert wine which is the world’s oldest named wine still in production. Produced since around 700BC, it is known as the “wine of the kings and the king of the wines” because it was very famous amongst Royalty in the 12th century and was even heavily exported to many European Royal Courts. Legend has it that Commandaria was served at Richard Coeur de Lion’s wedding to Queen Berengaria in 1911.
We urge you to take a day and experience Cyprus’ wine production for yourself – the history and the beautiful scenery that this journey will take you on will add to the magic of discovering the stunning tastes on offer. Originally pressed by foot before the days of electricity, wine production, although still traditional, is very sophisticated in comparison and wineries are aplenty throughout the island. The Cyprus Tourist Organisation have compiled a wine route programme, made up of 7 routes, which is a great reference and we will give a brief overview of each. Don’t forget to call ahead to arrange your appointment with the wineries though!
We recommend that you ask for wines produced by indigenous varieties by name, which are very rarely used in blends – these include:
WHITE: Xinistry, Spourtiko, Promara, Muscat of Alexandria*.
RED: Mavro, Maratheftiko, Giannoudi, Lefkada.
*Muscat of Alexandria is mainly a dessert wine. Top tip: try Muscat Ayia Mavri Winery in Kilani Village where an old charming couple have won multiple awards.
Wine Route 1: Laona – Akamas
Wineries: Fikardos Winery (Mesogi: 26 949 814), Kamaterena Sodap (Stroumpi: 26 633 000), Tsalapatis Wines co Ltd (Polemi: 99 624 929), K & K Vasilikon (Kathikas: 26 633 237) and Sterna Winery (Kathikas: 99 699 082).
Wine Route 2: Vouni Panagias – Ampelitis
Wineries: Ezousa Winery (Kannaviou: 99 415 909), Vouni Panayia Winery Ltd (Panagia: 26 722 770), Kolios Winery Ltd (Statos – Agios Fotios: 26 724 090), Makkas Winery (Statos – Agios Fotios: 7777 2221)Chrysorrogiatissa Winery (Panagia: 99 626 642), Tsangarides Winery (Lemona: 26 722 777), Shoufas Winery Ltd (Koilineia: 99 447 424), Kalamos Winery (Amargeti: 99 519 268)
Wine Route 3: Diarizos Valley
Wineries: Lagria Winery (Salamiou: 99 346 990), Nelion Winery Ltd (Praitori: 99 666 414)
Wine Route 4: Krasochoria Lemesou
Gaia Oinotechniki (Agios Amvrosios: 99 442 472), Agia Mavri Ltd (Koilani: 25 470 225), Vardalis Winery Ltd (Koilani: 99 642 255), Vlassides Wiinery (Koilani: 99 441 574), Lambouris Winery Ltd (Kato Platres: 7000 9463), Antoniades Winery (Mandria: 99 824 475), Zambartas Winery (Agios Amvrosios: 25 942 424), Ktima Gerolemo (99 696 031), Zenon Winery (Omodos: 99 492 979), Malia (Keo) Ltd (Malia: 99 692 295), Nikolaides Winery (Anogyra: 99 649 655), Linos Winery (Omodos: 25 422 700), Constantinou Winery (Pera Pedi: 25 470 370), Argyrides Vasa Winery (Vasa: 25 945 999).
Wine Route 5: Koumandaria
Wineries: Co-op Commandaria Winery (Kalo Chorio: 99 534 060), Karseras Winery (Doros: 99 413 238).
Wine Route 6: Pitsilia
Wineries: Kyperounta Winery (Kyperounta: 99 589 612), Tsiakkas Winery (Pelendri: 99 567 898), Vassiliades Expressions Winery (96 342 622).
Learn from a local:
Haris at O’Vrakas Taverna in Pissouri Village Square is one of the best known and most knowledgable sommeliers in Cyprus – he is very open to you picking his brain for information or asking for recommendations on Cypriot wines. His enthusiasm for the island’s rich wine making history is hard to beat!
– Pick up a ‘Cyprus Wine Routes’ brochure from any CTO office, or download via their website: www.visitcyprus.com
– www.wineriescyprus.com has a full list and interactive map of all the wineries around the island.
– Look out for the ‘wine route’ road signs on the roads.
Whilst you are on your wine tasting adventure, why not stop at a taverna to taste the local cuisine? These following tavernas are linked with the Zambartas article of the Limassol wine route:
If you are looking for traditional meze, freshly cooked with seasonal ingredients, try ‘Ariadni’ or ‘Pyrkos’ Tavernas in Vasa village, strictly for meat lovers. If you prefer some live music accompaniment, with a great atmosphere serving meze with a twist, then go where the locals go, ‘Stou Kyryianni’ in the picturesque Omodos village. And finally, if you prefer food with a more international touch then ‘Sykaminia’ restaurant in Ayios Amvrosios is the place to eat. The contact details for each of these tavernas can be found below, please note that the meze prices do not include drinks.
‘Kali Orexi!’ (bon appetit)
Ariadni Taverna – Koilani
Tel: 25 944 064
Meze price: €15 pp
Pyrkos Taverna – Vasa Koilani
Tel: 25 942 655
Meze price: €20 pp
Stou Kyr Yianni – Omodos
Tel: 25 422 100
Meze price: €25 pp
Skyaminia – Agios Amvrosios
Tel: 99 313 865
Meze price: €15 pp
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
All of the traditional wineries offer wine tasting and most will be more than happy to give you a tour of the premises and an insight into the wine making process. Not only does this make for an interesting tour but the wine is often cheaper there too!
Fikardos Winery – Paphos
Tel: 26 949 814
One of the largest wineries in Cyprus, founded in 1990. Visiting hours are between 9am and 6pm daily, except on Sundays.
Kolios Winery – Paphos
Tel: 26 724 090
This traditional winery was established in 1999 in the Paphos area and is beautifully built in local stone. Visiting hours are Mon – Friday, 8:30am – 8pm.
Vasilikon Winery – Paphos
Tel: 26 633 237
This winery produces some of the top wine labels. Good Whites and Reds produced here. Visits are by appointment only.
Tsiakkas Winery – Limassol
Tel: 25 991 080
Set in the mountain village of Pitsilia, the Tsiakkas winery is one of the most picturesque on the island. Visiting hours are between 9am and 5pm daily, except on Sundays.
Vouni Panagia Winery – Pano Panagia
Tel: 26 722 770
Recently renovated with lovely restaurant which has stunning mountain views. Tasting room, traditional museum & educational short film. Open between 8am – 4pm daily.
Vlassides Winery – Koilani
Tel: 99 441 574
Contact: Sophoclis Vlassides
Family owned winery, specialising in French grape varieties. Their Reds are their signatures bottles.
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