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The indigenous Cypriot grapes grow well at an altitude of about 1000 metres.
© Michael Turtle

Discovering Cyprus Wine

As Pafos developed into an important trading centre in ancient times, one of the products exchanged, especially in the Roman period, was wine. Wine here was imported from abroad and also produced locally. In fact, Romans enjoyed Cypriot wine, as we learn from ancient sources.

The oldest named wine that's still in production anywhere in the world, called 'Commandaria' is in fact from Cyprus, and dates back to the Crusaders’ time, in the Medieval period. The tradition of wine making on the island began in the Antiquity and it has had a resurgence in recent times.

One of the modern wineries near Pafos is Vouni Panagia, which uses new technologies blended with historic techniques. Vouni Panagia was founded by Andreas Kyriakides in 1987 and was one of the first private wineries in Cyprus. Today, his sons do most of the work. The eldest, Yiannis, says there’s been a noticeable change in the wine industry during his lifetime.

“I think in the last 20 or 30 years, there’s a been a big improvement of the quality of Cypriot wines,” he says. “It’s due to the creation of small family and boutique wineries that focus on quality and not on mass production.”

Yiannis Kyriakides gives a tour of his winery, Vouni Panayia, in the hills above Pafos. – © Michael Turtle
Yiannis Kyriakides gives a tour of his winery, Vouni Panayia, in the hills above Pafos. – © Michael Turtle

One of the other reasons for this improvement is a renewed emphasis on local grapes, such as the white varietal Xynisteri or the red varietals Mavro and Maratheftiko. They may not be internationally famous but they’re considered to be excellent grapes and there’s an increasing number of tourists who are visiting Pafos because of the wine.

“If someone comes here, they will discover the terroir of our region and the unique expressions of the local grapes in this terroir,” Yiannis says.

“Our vineyards are situated at an altitude of about 1000 metres and we have plants up to 130 years old. So, by using the local grapes that are more adapted to these conditions, we can produce a better quality of wines.”

On a tour of the winery, you’ll see modern, as well as traditional equipment, as there are techniques from ancient times that are still part of the production process. The Cypriots of millennia ago used methods that are still in use today.

There is a different atmosphere up here from the World Heritage site in Pafos, which you can also enjoy. It’s another one of the reasons the wineries have become popular with visitors. There are now seven official Wine Routes across Cyprus, three of which are situated in the Pafos region. Following the designated routes, the roads lead through beautiful locations with panoramic views and small picturesque villages.

“If someone comes here, they can enjoy a glass of wine with beautiful views,” Yiannis says. “From here we can see Pafos Forest, we can see Latchi Bay down near Polis area. Also, of course, the climate here is cooler so you can sit outside and relax, even in the warmest summer days.”

It’s not a bad way to spend some time in Pafos – and it doesn't get more romantic than that!