Cyprus is a small island, yet the renown of its wines is great. The cultivation of grape vines dates back to 3.000 B.C., during the early days of the colonisation of the Island. Studies indicate that the grape varieties in Cyprus are some of the oldest in the world.
Fashions change however and Cyprus has had to adapt its wine industry. "Foreign" varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan Noir, Chardonnay and Semillon, have been successfully introduced in the past 20 years and are used for blending with the local varieties of Mavro and Xynisteri, as well as producing small quantities of "varietal" wines.
In the early 1980’s, the Cyprus government enabled small enterprises to operate wineries of 50.000 to 300.000 bottles-a-year capacity, in the hill villages of the grape growing regions. There are now more than 50 regional wineries which are producing more diversified and characterful wines. The first of these was at Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery in the Pafos district, whose Monte Roya winery was established with German technology and equipment, making a range of good quality wines.
Whilst this exciting development has been taking place, the four traditional wineries (ETKO, KEO, SODAP and LOEL) have also been very active. They have planted hundreds of thousands of new vines of famous international varieties and re-discovered old Cyprus types. Their laboratories have researched new production techniques and their oenologists have introduced new styles and brands.
All this of course is good for the wine lovers. There is a wide range of wines to choose from at prices that still represent very good value. The Cyprus wine industry has a battle on its hands, but everybody in the sector is confident that the island will ultimately get the place it deserves on the international wine map. After all, Cyprus wines continue a wonderful 5.000 year-long tradition of enjoyment!
Main Manufacturers and Regional Wineries
It's the wine with the oldest tradition in the world, as far as the method of production and the appellation of origin is concerned. Commandaria is therefore the pioneer of the concept «appellation of origin».
Commandaria acquired its name after the area where the wine is produced. When in 1210, the Knights of the Order of St. John came to Cyprus, they took an estate neighbouring to Kolossi which became their chief headquarters, known as the «Grande Commanderie». This land was the richest of the island, yielding grapes which were used to produce the rich sweet wine which was distinctive to Cyprus. Thus the superior wine produced in that area was named "Vin de la Commanderie".
According to the legend, Commandaria was crowned by King Philippe Augustus as "the Apostle of Wines" as early as 1223. Questioning the merits of different wines, the King of France asked for samples of all the best known wines in the world. The first, of more than a hundred wines he asked for, was the wine of Cyprus. The "Vin de Chypre" which he crowned as "the Apostle of Wines".
Commandaria is as much a part of the present as it is of thousands of years which have preceded; rich in aroma, subtle in taste, it is a wine for each and every occasion; it is a healing and a life-giving tonic; it might be the wine that the great philosopher Plato described as the most valuable drink ever given by gods to Man.
For further information please visit www.cyprusfoodndrinks.com and ask for the brochures Zypern Weinstraßen and Wines of Cyprus, we will send them to you for free!