What is a wine festival without a great selection (and amount!) of wine? The 36th CyWineFest certainly delivered on that with having two large wine tasting stands providing a wide selection of wine from wineries all around Cyprus. A third wine tasting stand focussed on wines from the Paphos wine making region, which were kindly donated by the Municipality of Paphos, as well as wines produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and were represented at CyWineFest for the first time. In addition to the general CyWineFest tables, we were fortunate enough this year to also have Makkas Winery and SODAP-Kamanterena Winery as exhibitors, offering visitor samples of their specific range of wines. For many visitors, trying these wines at CyWineFest is the only opportunity to do so, as many of the smaller boutique wineries, which incidentally are producing internationally renowned and award winning wines do not have a distribution method by which to export their wines to the UK. So another first for us this year, was to be able to sell bottles of some of these wines to visitors, and we hope to be able to offer a wider selection next year.
In the meantime, and with summer holidays around the corner, we encourage everyone to take a day off from our beautiful Cyprus beaches, and instead take a drive along one of the seven wine routes. The Wine Routes programme has been implemented by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) with co-funding from the structural funds of the European Union for the initial six routes and by the European Fund for Agricultural Development for the seventh. The CTO has designed these routes to be easy to follow, but to give explorers the chance to not only incorporate a few wineries en route, and learn about the wine making process which goes back 6,000 years in Cyprus through the many traditional wine presses and museums, but also embrace the diverse agrotourism of the different regions, various antiquities you may pass along the way, village tavernas and restaurants, and even boutique hotels if you don’t fancy packing the entire route into one day.
The Laona Akamas wine route, offers four different wineries, but is described as offering the most unique geography – one particular section of the route which is at a significant height, includes fascinating views mixed with greenery and forests, vineyards, and the stunning Akamas peninsula in the distance. The Vouni Panagias-Ampelitis wine route in the Paphos region reaches a height of over 1,100 meters and includes seven wineries, and the ‘Metochi of Kykkos’ which includes the famous monastery has also been developed into a cultural centre and definitely worth a visit. The Diarizos Valley route is to the east of Paphos and follows the Diarizos riverbed, and includes a drive through the ancient settlement of Palepafos (present day Kouklia) which is the centre of adoration of the Cypriot goddess Aphrodite. Moving eastwards, we come to the Krasochoria of Lemesos route which comprises of twenty scenic villages, a whopping sixteen wineries, a chance to visit the stunning Kolossi castle, and visit the Cyprus Wine Museum! All the villages along the Commandaria route belong to the “Commandaria” OEOP appellation.
Most vineyards along this route cultivate the indigenous grape varieties, and have to keep to strict criteria to allow them to use the designation, and there are lots of handicraft workshops and sights of interest along the way. The Pitsilia route passes through the mountainous areas east of the highest peak of Troodos, and includes two wineries and covers eleven villages and is surrounded by forests, which makes it not only stunning, but also perfect for cultivation making the local village markets a treasure trove for foodies everywhere! And last but not least, the Mountainous Larnaka-Lefkosia route which is the most eastern of the routes and takes in the rural areas of Larnaka and Lefkosia, covering ten villages including Lefkara with its famous Lefkaritika lace, three wineries and lots of small museums and craft workshops. There is definitely something for the whole family when exploring these routes, and they serve as a reminder to us all that Cyprus is more than just sunshine and beaches. There is lots of information about these routes, and other hidden treasures in Cyprus available from the CTO – http://www.visitcyprus.com/index.php/en/.
CyWineFest gives everyone the chance to have a whistle stop tour of some of these amazing wines, but listening to the knowledge, passion and expertise of the winery owners themselves, really leaves a lasting impression. Maybe next time you’re at a taverna back home and look at the wine menu, it will remind you of wonderful holiday memories and a new appreciation of the quality of the wine our little island produces. And if there are no Cypriot wines, ask the owner to start stocking some!! In the meantime, the CyWineFest team will continue to work hard to get an even bigger variety at next year’s event. Follow us on our social media pages @Cywinefest for more information.
Photos: CTO / Alexios Gennaris / Peter Pentayiotis