Cyprus is not only the island of the goddess of love and beauty but also the island of wine. So let’s wine tour around Cyprus!
With a century-long tradition of winemaking and a still strong-standing wine industry, Cyprus is the country of the oldest named wine still in production – Commandaria- deservedly called by Richard the Lionheart “the wine of the kings and the king of wines”. But it has to be made and bottled somewhere, doesn’t it? As China is reputed for its Great Wall and the Silk Route, Cyprus is popular for its wine routes.
Following the sign posts spread across the island, off you go to where wine is made and drunk (pun intended). The sandy soil of the island is ideal for vine growing.
Commandaria Wine Route
A savory journey awaits, not to mention that locals will invite you to taste different sorts of wine and let you take a peek inside their world and even visit a wine museum.
Crossing 14 Commandaria villages, this route is probably the oldest of them all, dating back to 1192AD, when St. John’s knights were refining the production of the oldest and noblest of wines. The dessert wine was named after the region producing it, ‘La Grande Commanderie’, today Kolossi. In the 13th century, the reputation of Commandaria exceeded the boundaries of the island and earned it the leading place in the wine tasting competition or ‘Battle of the Wines’ hosted by the king of France Auguste Philippe.
The Wine of Kings and the King of Wines
Made from Mavro (dark/black) and Xynisteri (white) grapes harvested in late season and dried in the sun to intensify their natural sweetness, Commandaria truly has a unique taste. The dried grapes are then pressed and the runoff collected and fermented in tanks or humongous earthenware jars.
4 wineries are spread across this route and what would be a trip to the region without a visit to Laneia wine press, which seems to have escaped the passage of time, well preserved reminding of the good old winemaking techniques. Kolossi Castle or ‘La Grande Commanderie’ is also a popular site worth visiting.
Other attractions in the area include Kouris Dam, the biggest on the island and an important wetland, and the vines themselves and the woods. Situated at an altitude of 500-900 metres, sparse woods delimit the vine lands. Numerous historic and archaeological monuments can also be found in the area.
The Commandria route passes through Limassol, Kolossi, Erimi, Monagri, Agios Georgios, Silikou, Doros, Laneia, Trimiklini, Agios Mamas, Kapileio, Zoopigi, Kalo Chorio, Agios Pavlos, Agios Konstantinos, Louvaras, Gerasa and Apsiou.