Politically, the island in the eastern Mediterranean forms the Republic of Cyprus, which under international law covers the entire island with 9,251 km². De facto, however, it only consists of the larger southern part with 5,384 km², because the smaller north with 3,355 km² forms the regime Turkish Republic of Cyprus (not recognized by many states). Two British military bases with 255 km² land area are under the control of England as a remnant of the colonial period. The distance to the south coast of Turkey is only about 70 km, to the east coast of the Greek island Rhodes just under 400 km and to the mainland of Greece even more than 800 km. The winegrowing goes back to the 3rd millennium BC. According to mythology, the Greek wine god Dionysus preferred wines from the island for his drinking binge. The foam-born Aphrodite rose from the sea at the "Roman rock" and went ashore at the Akamas peninsula. The Phoenicians and Greeks founded the tradition of sweet wines in ancient times. Floor mosaics with wine motifs in the port city of Paphos on the southwest coast bear witness to this ancient winegrowing culture.
After the third crusade, in 1191 the island came into the possession of the Order of St. John, later the Order of the Temple and from 1312 after their dissolution again the Order of St. John. The order cultivated so-called Kommenden (estates with vineyards). Their headquarters was the still existing castle of Kolossi, called "Grand Commandery", which gave the name to the famous wine region and the legendary sweet wine Commandaria. At that time, this coveted wine was supplied to many European ruling houses. From 1489 to 1571 Cyprus belonged to the Republic of Venice. The Ottoman rule from 1571 to 1878 and the associated ban on alcohol caused a total decline of the wine culture. Under the British administration from 1878 to 1960, there was then an upswing again. The Commandaria and similar wines formerly known as "Cyprus sherry" developed into export hits.
Climate, soil & grape variety
From the early 1990s, young, well-trained descendants of old-established families and some investors reinvented Cypriot viticulture, so to speak. This new generation broke with the old myths and began to combine tradition and Middle Eastern lifestyle with Western dynamics. In the villages of the Troodos Mountains, a number of modern, well-equipped wineries were built. The small vineyards form a perfect wine ecosystem in the sparse scrubland, which can largely do without artificial irrigation and chemical pesticides. Phylloxera has never reached the island, which is why the vines are rooted ungrafted in the soil. It was not until the 1970s that European varieties were introduced in Cyprus.
Most of the vineyards are located in the southwest of the island in the southern foothills of the Troodos Mountains at an altitude of 250 to 1,500 metres above sea level, making it one of the highest vineyards in Europe. Pitsilia and the northern half of Commandaria have volcanic soils, the other areas mainly limestone. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot summers and low rainfall. The vineyards cover about 8,000 hectares, of which about 100,000 hectolitres of wine are produced. Many of them are cultivated in the traditional bush-raising form(gobelet) shown in the picture above. However, table grapes and raisins are also grown. The Cypriots were not great wine connoisseurs in the past, but consumed mainly beer, the marc brandy Zivania and ouzo. However, there is a trend reversal in favour of wine. In 2016, only the first two varieties were designated. However, the grape variety index includes all varieties with the quantities of 2010, which were very well included this year (Kym Anderson):
It was only with the accession of Cyprus to the EU that an origin-based classification model based on the French model was introduced, which became effective in 2006. Five areas are defined for OEOP wines with designation of origin (OEOP = Oinos Eleghomenis Onomasias Proelefsis). These wines must come from vineyards situated at an altitude of more than 600 metres above sea level. They must be made from 85% native varieties such as Xynisteri (white), as well as Maratheftiko, Mavro or Ophthalmo (all red). Furthermore, the proportion of the Mavro variety may not exceed 60 or 70%, depending on the growing region. Vinification and bottling must take place in the OEOP areas. The designation of origin for local wines corresponds to the political division with the four districts Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia and Paphos. Here the winegrowers are free to choose their own design, especially with regard to the use of international grape varieties. The five OEOP areas are:
CommandariaThe area includes 14 municipalities in the southern foothills of the Troodos Mountains north of Limassol. It was first defined in 1980.
Krasohoria Lemesou: The area comprises 20 municipalities in the southern foothills of the Troodos Mountains north of Limassol. Two subareas are Afames and Laona.
Laona Akamas: the area comprises six coastal municipalities in the north-west north of Paphos. The mythical Akamas Peninsula is a protected area because of its special wealth of plants.
Pitsilia: The largest area comprises 32 villages on the eastern edge of the Troodos Mountains above Commandaria and is also known for its fruit trees and rose crops.
Vouni Panayia Ambelitis: The double area is located in the central western part of the island on the western edge of the Troodos Mountains northeast of Paphos.
Most of the production is accounted for by the four large companies Etko, Keo, Loel and Sodap, based around Limassol in the south of the island. They produce mainly for export, mainly wine for industrial processing (e.g. sangria and vermouth), grape must concentrate or RTK (e.g. for British Wine) and liqueur wines. These companies also own some regional wineries. The more than 50 private wineries produce only about 15% of the quantity (with an upward trend) with increasingly high quality standards. These include Aes Ambelis, Amforeas (Kolios), Ampelokipeftiki, Antoniades, Ayia Mavri, Bolita, Chrisorogiatissa, Constantinou Distillery, Costas N. Erimoudes, Ezousa, Fikardos, Gaia, Hadjiantonas, Harma, Krelan, Kyperounta, Kykkos Monastery, Lagria, Linos, Menardos, Nelion, Nicolaides, Nikolettino, Vouni Panayias, Shoufas, Tsalapatis, Tsangarides, Tsiakkas, Vardalis, Vasa, Vasilikon, Vlassides, Yiaskouris, Zambartas, Zenon.