|Area:||9,251 sq km|
|Coastline:||648 sq km|
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What make Cyprus a truly glamorous country are the grapes and wines that have been peculiar to the island since far ancient times. The cultivation of the grapes most likely dates back to the 2nd millennium B. C., if not earlier. Although no direct proof for the production of wines in ancient Cyprus, there is indirect evidence due to which the production might be presumed to the late Bronze Age. No doubt, wine drinking played an important role in daily life in Cyprus and is part of Cyprus culture, as illustrated on the mosaic of Kato Pafos, dating back to the Roman times in the 3rd century A.D. Cyprus became famous for its wine during the Middle Ages, when the Knights Templar established their Grand Commandery at Kolossi, and made the land in Limassol, Koilani, Avdimou and Pafos their possession as well. Later known as the “Vin de Commanderie”, their own wine was produced. Etienne de Lusignan (1580) even entitled the Cyprus wines “the best in the world”. Although not proven, it is said that the sweet Cyprus wine lured the Turkish Sultan Selim II to capture Cyprus in 1571.
As it was in the early times, viticulture is still important in these days, much conditioned by the favorable climatic and soil factors of the island. At present, there are 23, 500 hectares of vines (of which 21, 500 wine grapes and 2,000 table grapes) under cultivation, with the annual production of 200 million kilos of grapes. Constituting 7 % of the total value of the agricultural production, viticulture makes almost one quarter of the agricultural population and wine products belong to much exported items of Cyprus. In comparison to the wine grapes which are dry-fed crop, table grapes need irrigating. While wine grapes are grown on hilly and semi-hilly areas of the southern and western slopes of the Troodos Mountains, the table grapes are found on the irrigated plains of Limassol and Pafos. There are some cultivated wine grapes, among which the local varieties, such as mavro (black), that covers approximately 73 % of the total wine grape area of Cyprus, or xynisteri (white) that spreads over 14 % of the total wine grape area. Malaga (Muscat of Alexandria), Ophtalmo, Maratheftiko, Promara, Spourtico and Kanella are also traditional varieties. Less than 10 % of the total wine grape area is covered with the new varieties introduced in Cyprus, such as Carignan, Grenache, Mataro, Palomilo, Riesling, Malrasia and many more. Replanting of the vine area is allowed only within the traditional viticulture regions and expanding of the area planted with vines is forbidden. The area of table grapes is planted with sultana, the white seedless variety, covering 85 % of the total table grape area, cardinal 5 %, perlette 4 % and gold 1%. When cared for properly, sultana gives the large berries also known as Thompson Seedless grapes that are mostly exported abroad. Wineries using up approximately 70 % of Cyprus grape production process the grapes into wine and other wine products. There are a number of wines made of different kinds of grapes, ranging from dry white and red wines to medium dry and sweet, cherries, brandies, or the famous Commandaria.
This sweet wine was entitled “the apostle of wine” by King Philippe Augustus in 1223 or earlier. “Commandaria”, bearing the name of the area where the wine was produced, was soon well-known in the neighboring regions and countries. The area was occupied by the Order of Templar Knights who bought the island from Richard the Lionheart in 1192 and soon they sold it to Guy de Lusignan. After the Templars built the Kolossi Castle, the Knights of the Order of St John came to Cyprus in 1210 and seized the neighboring estate, known as the “Grand Commandery”. Soon the Templars dissolved and the area was taken over by the Knights of St John, who then mastered the entire area around Kolossi and named the wine “Vin de la Commanderie”. Ever since the name of the sweet wine is closely connected with this area and even the procedure of the production has remained until present days. As for the method of production, and the significance of the origin, Commandaria is the wine with a truly old tradition worldwide. It is considered the pioneer of the notion "appellation of origin".
When dealing with the south part of Cyprus, the main wine activity is concentrated in Limassol. There are also small wineries found in Koilani (Agia Mavri), Agios Amvrosios (Ecological winery), Statos-Agios Fotios (J. Efstathiou winery), Arsos (Laona winery), Chrysorrogiatissa monastery (Monte Rogia winery), Anogyra (Nikolaides Bros winery), Omodos (Olympus wineries), Pafos (Pekris winery), Pelendri (Pitsilla Regional Winery) and many more. The wineries mentioned are open to visitors.
Wine making in North Cyprus is not so developed than in the south part, and thus the wines from Turkish mainland are preferred. When in restaurant, however you can choose from white and red wines that are of good quality, among which Çankaya (white, very dry wine), Villa Doluca (white, exceedingly drinkable, dry), Yakut (red, good quality, dry), Dikmen (red, light, easy drinking) and many more.
Chateau St. Hilarion wines is boutique producer of quality international grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, and many others.