The Cyprus wine routes were plotted to introduce visitors not only to the 40-plus wineries on the island but also to show off the culture of wine-making in Cyprus, including museums, restored wine presses and villages rich in wine history. There are seven routes,

marked by special road signs, all in the southwest of Cyprus. Each route showcases a different side of the island, from its mountains to its coastal roads. Visitors with a taste for sweet wine should choose the commandaria route, centred around the island’s most famous tipple, which has been made here for centuries.


E Halloumi: Forget the squeaky, plasticky supermarket version: in Cyprus, you’ll find halloumi that is soft, doughy and utter heaven. Visitors to Mrs Sofia’s house in the tiny village of Letymbou can watch halloumi being made by hand and then taste it with freshly baked bread.

E Coffee: Mrs Sofia is also a dab hand at Cypriot coffee made the traditional way – heated on hot sand and with the grounds poured into the cup to make a strong, sweet drink. Just remember to stop drinking before you reach the end.

E Sweets: A popular traditional Cypriot sweet is soutzoukos, made with xynisteri grape juice and aromatic plants and allowed to thicken into a soft, rubbery treat.

52 11 JULY 2019

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: A vineyard tasting; Vouni Panayia winery; halloumi; Ktima Gerolemo winery PICTURES: Cyprus Tourism Organisation; Marcus Bassler; Shutterstock

a shift in policy, and with the help of EU investment and private finances, there are now more than 40 wineries in Cyprus. Many are family-owned and some are run by a younger generation who have studied oenology overseas and returned to test their new-found know-how.

WINE ROUTES To show off the growing number of vineyards scattered across the island, seven self-drive wine routes invite wine lovers to discover these sites for themselves. Many producers are delighted to show off their wines and offer tastings and tours, and oenophiles used to trawling round more-established wine regions such as Tuscany or the Loire Valley will love the feeling of discovery as they find a winery tucked away at the end of a dusty track. A good place to begin is the ancient city of Paphos,

where even before you set foot in a vineyard you can find traces of Cyprus’s wine history in the unmissable Roman mosaics featuring Dionysus, the god of wine. Most of Cyprus’s vineyards are spread across the southwest part of the island, with vines stretching over the green countryside and up steep terraces all the way into the Troodos Mountains.

Indeed, if all the sampling gets too much, Troodos, known as ‘the green heart of Cyprus’, has miles of walking and cycling trails, while the sandy beaches around Paphos are worthy of legend (literally – as the goddess Aphrodite was supposedly born here). Driving through the lush green landscape, with vines

stretching as far as the eye can see, is doubly rewarding if you’re en route to sample the wine (and even better if you hire a taxi for the day).

Seven self-drive wine routes invite

wine lovers to discover vineyards for themselves, and many producers are delighted to offer tastings and tours

I headed off on wine route number two – you can mix and match between routes, depending on where the mood takes you – to Vouni Panayia, a producer keen on promoting indigenous grapes rather than foreign imports. One winery tour later and unfamiliar grape varietals such as maratheftiko, spourtiko and giannoudi were tripping off the tongue, while I was poured a glass of the bestselling Alina wine from one of Cyprus’s most widely planted white grapes, xynisteri, which makes a great sauvignon blanc-style wine.

CYPRIOT TASTES Fired up by a bracing shot of fortified wine Zivania, I headed for the village of Kathikas and the Vasilikon winery, one of the first to be established in western Cyprus. Surrounded on all sides by vines, the winery is built on three levels, encompassing a wine museum, tasting room and wine laboratory, and hosts generous tastings from across its range of reds, whites and rosés. It was at my next stop, the aforementioned Ktima

Gerolemo winery just outside the beautiful village of Omodos, where I finally sampled – among many others – Cyprus’s famous commandaria sweet wine. Made from

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