The island has a long-standing tradition of winemaking that dates back to Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian times, as evidenced by archaeological finds of old wine jugs at the Lemesos (Limassol) villages of Pyrgos and Erimi that are believed to be over 6.000 years old. The grape varieties of the island are some of the oldest in the world, with the sweet dessert wine of Commandaria (Commandaria) remaining the oldest named wine still in production.
The two main local grape varieties are those of Mavro (black) and Xynisteri (white). Xynisteri is the most widespread white grape variety and produces pale, light wines with a low alcohol content (11-11.5% volume). Mavro (red) is large and juicy, producing dull colour wines with a light taste. When Mavro and Xynisteri are blended together they make Commandaria, and they are also used together in the production of the national spirit, Zivania.
Other local grape varieties include the ancient Maratheftiko and Ofthalmo (red), whilst foreign grape varieties are also grown on the island, including Chardonnay, Muscat of Alexandria, Palomino, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (white), and Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut, Grenache Noir, Mataro and Shiraz (red).
Wine connoisseurs will be pleased to know that many of the island’s wineries and wine-producing villages and monasteries are open for tours and tasting of their ‘nectar of the Gods’*, whilst the annual Lemesos Wine Festival is a ten-day celebration of wine and merriment, held at the end of August/beginning of September.
*It is advisable to check opening times with the wineries before visiting.
Commandaria Wine Route
Take a trip back in time and discover the secrets of the island’s most ancient and famous wine – the sweet dessert wine of Commandaria – that has been praised and world-renowned for centuries.
The route through 14 Commandaria villages goes back to 1192 AD when the knights of St. John were perfecting the production of the world’s first named wine. The sweet wine took its identity from the place it was mainly produced – ‘La Grande Commanderie’ – which is the area now known as Kolossi. So famed was Commandaria that it even won in the first recorded wine tasting competition – the ‘Battle of the Wines’ – which took place in the 13th century, and was held by the French king Philip Augustus.
Indigenous Mavro (red) and Xynisteri (white) grapes are picked late in the season and dried in the sun to intensify their natural sweet flavours, giving the drink its distinctive taste. The dried grapes are then pressed, with the run-off collected and fermented in tanks or huge earthenware jars – much like those used in bygone times.
There are four wineries on this route, and a visit to the region is not complete without stopping by the refurbished wine press of Laneia, which has been maintained throughout the centuries, and serves as a reminder of the land’s glorious winemaking past. A further popular site is also the Medieval Castle of Kolossi – or ‘La Grande Commanderie’ as it was once known.
The villages themselves can all be found at an altitude of 500 to 900 metres. Their vines share the landscape with thick, bushy wild growth and sparse woods, whilst the rich flora and fauna are quite impressive – as are the historic and archaeological monuments of the vicinity. The area is also home to the Kouris Dam, the biggest in Cyprus, and an important wetland.
This historic route passes through: Lemesos (Limassol), Kolossi, Erimi, Monagri, Agios Georgios, Silikou, Doros, Laneia, Trimilkini, Agios Mamas, Kapileio, Zoopigi, Kalo Chorio, Agios Pavlos, Agios Konstantinos, Louvaras, Gerasa and Apsiou.
Diarizos Valley Wine Route
Take a fascinating journey along the Diarizos River, through beautifully unspoiled green landscapes dotted with picturesque vineyards, where you will discover the lesser-known wine-producing region of the Diarizos Valley, located east of Pafos (Paphos).
Unassuming in status, but breathtakingly lush, the route passes 14 hilly villages, with an opportunity to visit just two – yet significant – wineries that are placing the area firmly on the island’s wine-producing map.
Situated at a lower altitude than the other main winegrowing areas, the wines produced in the area are remarkable. Climbing upwards, you will come across 18 different types of vines, with the predominant being that of the local Mavro (red) grape variety. Its tranquil scenery and interesting flora and fauna are further enhanced by the genuine hospitality of the local people, and the pleasurable delights of its expanding wine trade.
This verdant route passes through: Pafos, Acheleia, Kouklia, Nikokleia, Choletria, Stavrokonnou, Kelokedara, Salamiou, Mesana, Arminou, Filousa, Agios Nikolaos, Praitori, Kedares, Agios Georgios, Mamonia and Fasoula.
Krasochoria of Lemesos (Limassol) Wine Route
The Lemesos (Limassol) winemaking villages are renowned for their deep-rooted history of viticulture, as well as their excellent local wines and the stunning scenery of the area that produces them.
Located on the southern slopes of the Troodos mountain range, nowhere else in Cyprus can such a great presence of wineries be found! Collectively, the villages are known as ‘Krasochoria’, which is comprised of the two Greek words for ‘wine’ and ‘villages’ – a name that tells the story of its rich winemaking history in itself.
The route is outstanding; a dry climate combined with a unique geology results in first-rate wines, made mostly from the local grape varieties Xynisteri (white) and Mavro (red), as well as some imported varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Grenache and Syrah among a total of 23 different varieties.
A total of 20 charming, unspoilt villages comprise this route with 16 wineries between them. The villages are well worth visiting, not only for their wineries, but also their traditional architecture, cobblestoned narrow passages and delightful surroundings. They are also home to some of the best-known tavernas on the island.
This scenic route passes through: Lemesos, Kolossi, Erimi (Cyprus Wine Museum), Kantou, Souni-Zanakia, Pano Kivides, Agios Amvrosios, Lofou, Vouni, Koilani, Pera Pedi, Mandria, Kato Platres, Omodos, Vasa, Malia, Arsos, Pachna, Anogyra and Avdimou.
Laona – Akamas Wine Route
Travel through an evocative region of rugged coastlines and charming little villages, abundant with culture and lush vines and possessing a unique character that is both rustic and contemporary.
Situated in the north-western shores of Cyprus, quaint villages and wineries invite you to visit their windswept vineyards, where you will discover the indigenous Xynisteri (white) grape variety that grows in a climate tempered by the sea breeze.
The wines produced here are cool yet solid, with a fine aroma and among the best white wines produced on the island. When it comes to red wine, the region also produces some of the best, thanks to the rare and ancient grape variety of Maratheftiko.
Aside from a visit to four wineries, the area offers a host of traditional tavernas, elevated views, intense natural beauty and the opportunity to visit the stunning Akamas Peninsula.
This rugged route passes through: Pafos (Paphos), Mesogi, Tsada, Stroumbi, Kathikas, Akourdaleia, Pano Arodes, Kato Arodes, Ineia, Drouseia, Polis and Pegeia.
Mountainous Larnaka (Larnaca) – Lefkosia (Nicosia) Wine Route
Comprising the expanse of the mountainous areas of both Larnaka (Larnaca) and Lefkosia (Nicosia), this varied route is one that marries the old viticultural history of the island with the new, modern face of the winemaking industry.
Passing through 10 villages, the route takes in three wineries, quaint museums and workshops. Even though it is outside of the traditional wine regions, there are active winemakers here who have planted vineyards with the white varieties of Assyrtiko, Malvasia Aromatica, Chardonnay Xynisteri and Sauvignon blanc, and the red varieties of Maratheftiko, Cabernet and Merlot – ensuring their fast integration into the island’s winemaking portfolio.
A love of wine is combined with other cultural aspects along this route, such as the inclusion of the village of Lefkara – famous for its handmade lace embroidered linens and delicate filigree silver – along with the village of Fikardou, which is home to one of the oldest traditional wine presses in Cyprus.
This enlightening route passes through: Lefkosia, Skarinou, Lefkara, Kato Drys, Vavla, Ora, Odou, Farmakas, Gourri, Fikardou and Kalo Chorio.
Pitsilia Wine Route
In a region where pines and vines grow freely into the mountainsides, neat villages exude rural charm and produce a range of fine wines that are yours to discover and savour.
A cluster of 11 villages and two of the most well-known wineries (in Pelendri) are included in the ‘Nom d’Origine’ Pitsilia – an area that spreads around the mountain peaks of Madari, Papoutsa, and the north-western part of Machairas. Here, the altitude secures a more slow and effortless grape maturity, whilst the arid and sloping earth forces the vines to huddle together and produce richer wines.
Classic local grape varieties continue to have a dominant presence amongst the vineyards of Pitsilia, with smatterings of the rare and ancient red variety of Maratheftiko. The grapes grown at these highest points are taken to two local winemakers for the production of excellent vintages.
This flourishing route passes through: Lemesos (Limassol), Trimiklini, Pelendri, Potamitissa, Dymes, Kyperounta, Chandria, Polystypos, Alona, Agros, Agios Ioannis and Agios Theodoros.
Vouni Panagias – Ambelitis Wine Route
Embark upon a panoramic excursion into a glorious inland landscape on the Vouni Panagias – Ambelitis wine route, accompanied by the delights of the locally produced wines.
In the western part of the island, east of the Pafos (Paphos) mountainous area, the route unfolds at an altitude of 800 metres to offer an unparalleled wine experience. Along the way, visitors will delight in also discovering fragrant pine forests, unique flora and a variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
The 10 wineries of the route are diverse and produce white wines of particular fineness in aroma and lightness of body, thanks to the local Xynisteri (white) grape variety that predominantly grows here. Hints of green apple, peach and apricot characterise the white wines of the area, whilst the ancient – and rare – red Maratheftiko grapes are enriched by red fruit, violets and roses.
You will also discover 27 varieties of grape vine, of which there is an impressive showing of Carignan Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The villages on this route also produce some of the best wines of the indigenous Mavro (red) variety, thanks to the relatively high altitude and a mild climate, which benefit the vines and combine to produce pleasant dark and rose wines.
This picturesque route passes offers the option of two alternative ending points and passes through: Pafos (Paphos), Mesogi, Tsada, Stroumbi, Polemi, Psathi, Kannaviou, Asprogia, Pano Panagia, Chrysorrogiatissa, Agia Moni, Statos-Agios Fotios, Koilineia, Galataria, Pentalia, Amargeti, Eledio, Agia Varvara and Acheleia or Choulou, Lemona, Kourdaka, Letymvou and Kallepeia.