Ampelitis Wine is not a new story for Cyprus. Recent archaeological excavations which have been undertaken on the island have confirmed the thinking that this small tranche of earth has been producing wine for almost 5000 years. The discoveries testify that Cyprus may well be the cradle of wine development in the entire Mediterranean basin, from Greece, to Italy and France. This historic panorama of continuous wine history that the island possesses is just one of the reasons that make a trip to the wine villages such a fascinating prospect. A second important reason is the wines of today -fi nding and getting to know our regional wineries, which are mostly small and enchanting. Remember, though, it is important always to make contact fi rst to arrange your visit. The third and best reason is the wine you will sample during your journeys along the “Wine Routes” of Cyprus.
From the traditional indigenous varieties of Mavro (for red and rosι wines) and the white grape Xynisteri, plus the globally unique Koumandaria to well – known global varieties, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Let’s take a wine walk. The wine is waiting for us! VouniPanagias – Ampelitis Pafos, Mesogi, Tsada, Stroumpi, Polemi, Psathi, Kannaviou, Asprogia, PanoPanagia, Chrysorrogiatissa, AgiaMoni, Statos – AgiosFotios, Koilineia, Galataria, Pentalia, Amargeti, Eledio, Agia Varvara or Statos – AgiosFotios, Choulou, Lemona, Kourdaka, Letymvou, Kallepeia Here in this wine region, legend meets reality, as you travel ages old terrain, to encounter the young oenologists making today’s stylish Cyprus wines in 21st century wineries.
VISIONS OF DIONYSOS AND WINE RIVERS
If you have seen the Mosaics at Kato Pafos you will know of the early depictions of winemakers and wine drinking. In the “House of Dionysos” – God of wine, we can see King Ikarios holding the reins of two oxendrawing a cart loaded with wine. Mythology has it that Ikarios,encouraged by Dionysos, was the first human wine-maker. The mosaic of the first “Wine drinkers” shows one with a jug of wine and the other distinctly the worse for wear.… The myth which inspired the mosaic tells us that, after the first wine drinkers had over-imbibed, they thought Ikarios had tried to poison them, so they killed him. What it doesn’t tell us is how the knowledge acquired by Ikarios as the first winemaker was passed on. Presumably, as the art and craft of winemakingspread and grew, he must have handed on the know-how before departing this life! Indeed, in Cyprus as elsewhere, winemaking is an ancient activity, handed down from father to son. There is tradition aplenty in Cyprus wine and there are many villagers who still make it in the old terracotta pots called Pithari. Today’s winemakers courteously lend an eye and an ear to the myths and traditions of wine, but their wineries house the most up to date, frequently computerized and nearly alwaystemperature-controlled equipment. They are also well trained,often having graduated in oenology from Universities abroad. There is also a government-sponsored Vines and Wines Institute in Lemesos which has done marvellous work in the development of Cyprus wine. Ourwinemakers are young, charming, passionate about their work, friendly and hospitable. Nevertheless, for the romantic, here legend meets reality… And there is more to it than vines and wine -just one aspect is to revel in the naturalness of the countryside with its diverse range of trees… oak, olives, walnuts, cypresses, pines, poplars and more.
Generalcharacteristics North-Eastwards from Pafos it is hilly and we can see the south-westernridges and peaks of the Troodos range. Open vistas of vineyards andother cultivation change as we wind our way upwards where groups ofoak trees (Quercusinfectoria) may be seen. In the north-eastern corner of this itinerary occur handsome and often dense pine woods.Sometimes the region is almost wild,and so is home to plentiful wild life -plants, trees, animals and birds. It also offers us the chance to visit seven wineries. Climate: The region reaches an altitude of 1,141 metres at itshighest, which naturally brings higher rainfall than lower areas. Theclimate is mostly mild. Terrain: Flanking the narrow valley alongside the river runningthrough the area, the region’s grounds possess a mostly clay togypsum-clay structural composition. Grape Varieties: Most of the villages of this way belong in the region of production “Controlled Denomination of Origin” (WCNO) “VouniPanagias – Ampelitis”.
There are no less than 27 different grapevarieties to be found, with substantial plantings of Carignan Noirand Cabernet Sauvignon. Among others present are Muscat ofAlexandria and Palomino. White Grapes: Xynisteri, Palomino, Malvasia L., Malvasia G., UgniBlanc, Plant X., Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay,Sultana, Malaga, Muscat of Alexandria Red Grapes: Mavro, O_ halmo, Marathe_ iko, Lefkada, Carignan Noir, Mataro, Oellade, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Alicante B., Black Muscat, Grenache, Shiraz, Merlot the route From Pafos we take the B7, sign-postedto Polis, passing through the newly builtsuburban areas of the town, with their manyshops, showrooms and businesses. Turn forTsada, pass by and drive a further 5 km, andthen take a right turn to Polemi.This is a moderate sized village with old ruraldwellings amongst the new. It’s not reallynecessary to say there are vineyards allaround! A former religious establishment, called the “Metochi of Kykkos”, is worthhaving a look at. Not long ago renovated andnow a cultural centre, it’s open every day and welcomes visitors. To find it you turn left before the school on the road leaving the village, and then follow the signs on yourright.Leaving Polemi the E703 takes a northeastern direction, and after two kilometres,we reach Psathi. The village has a mostfavourable elevation, surrounded by greeneryand overlooks the River Polis Valley.Just one kilometre further, we come toAgiosDimitrianos, a smaller, but equallygreen village as Psathi. Between the twosettlements the “Arnies” nature trailcommences. Three km beyond, in the depthof the valley of the river of Ezousa, we come across Kannaviou, with a panoramic view on the left. At the village entrance there is a veryold oak tree, and, opposite, the “EZOYSA”winery. It is a modern facility built in 2003,which makes a range of wines from localgrape producers.The owner and winemaker MichaelConstantinides welcomes visitors and he hasa comfortable tasting room. Michael makesaround 50,000 bottles of wine a year, in five main styles, using both indigenous andinternational grape varieties. Recommendedare: “AyiosChrysostomos”, a dry, freshand fruit young white wine made from theXynisterigrape; the crisp, dry, Maratheftikorosι, “Eros” and the fragrant and rich berrylikeCabernet Sauvignon “Aenos”.The winery isn’t the only appealing thingabout Kannaviou. Just beyond the winery there is a place to walk and relax by the river,whilst a further stroll up the street revealsthe village’s unique taverna. The nature study path, “Palloures”, starts at Kannaviou. It offers the nature-lover a lot to see, note andenjoy… wild and cultivated plants and treesabound: vines, almonds, oranges, walnuts,olives, eucalyptuses and oaks, to name buta few.Leaving the village in a northerly direction,and in sight of Kannaviou Reservoir, we makea small detour to our le_ to the pretty villagesof KritouMarottou and Fyti. These are longestablished settlements, inheritors of theold and traditional rural ways. At Fyti the Church tops the village’s little streets,all winding around the slopes. This isa super place for a stroll, providingyou with a charming view of KritouMarottou, Kannaviouand AgiosDimitrianos. Here,mostly local stone is usedin construction, and severaltypes of single and double arches may be seen. You canrelax at the Fytitaverna, where youwill find locals chatting over coffee,as well as visitors who come for the excellent cooking of Maria. The tavern was once the village school and is 170years old. A few metres up the street there isan interesting museum of Popular and TextileArt.Retracing our steps, we take a le_ turn outof Kannaviou and drive six km to Asprogia,a small vinicultural village close to the edgeof the dense forest of Pafos.
From here,the street leads us to the most important destination of this route, PanoPanagia. Justoutside the village, at 850 metres altitude, we find the “VOUNI PANAYIA WINERY”.This modern wine production plant is one of the largest regional wineries of Cyprus.The view from its balconies is absolutelystunning, covering a great portion ofthe Pafos district, north-westwards fromChrysochou Bay to the Akamas and theLaona heights, in a broad sweep southeastto the coast at Pafos Airport. At this Point, too, rise the hills of “Vouni”, with theMonastery of PanagiaChrysorrogiatissa insight. Here you will see vineyards located at least a thousand metres above sea level.Established in 1987 in temporary premises,the “VOUNI PANAYIA WINERY” is nowhoused in a custom-built plant which wasdesigned to welcome visitors, too. Thefacilities include tasting and buying areasand a restaurant. Conducted tours take inthe large and attractive cellars, where oakbarrels and thousands of bottles store thematuring wines.Visitors here can enjoy multi-mediapresentations in English and Greek,graphically describing vine-growing and wine-making. Later on, you may nibble localcheeses as you sample the wines and thelocal eau de vie, Zivania. DirectorAndreasKyriakides uses local and internationalgrapes fromneighbouring vineyards andproduces both high-volume and limited edition wines. From the staple range, tryeither the dry or medium-dry “Alina”. Thered “Plakota”, light and quite gentle, isan excellent summer wine. Andreas hasalso made interesting wines with the redMaratheftiko.PanoPanagia, less than a kilometre away,is a large, picturesque village, with itstraditional stone houses literally clinging to the slopes… It is the centre of thedenominated wine region VouniPanagias-Ampelitis. The area’s vineyards grow no lessthan 25 varieties of grapes.Two kilometres from PanoPanagiawe come to the Monastery of PanagiaChrysorrogiatissa, which dates from 1152. After a fire in 1967, which fortunatelymissed the church, the monastery wasrestored. Day-time visitors are welcome byappointment.Wine has been made here for centuries, butits modern history started in the 1980s. Themonastery’s winery is located in thelower areas of the complex, by the gardensand vineyards. German equipment andtechnology were used for its constructionand this is evident in the style of the wines.From the range, try the Xynisteri “AyiosAndronicos” and the red blend, “Ayios Elias”,made from local grapes.A short distance away, towards Statos – AgiosFotios, a warm welcome awaits theoenophile at “KOLIOS WINERY”. Here,too, spectacular views abound, includingthe Ezousa Valley. On the ridges aroundthe cliff -perched winery are the Kolios family’s vineyards.
Provided a reservation ismade, tasty Cyprus food can be had in thewinery’s little restaurant. During the winery’sconstruction a natural spring was discoveredwhich has now been sculpted into pretty fountains.Winery tours are given in English and Greek, followed by wine and cheese tastings. Trythe fresh and fruity dry or medium-dry white “Persephoni”, the excellent rosι “Cornetto”and the well-blended red “AyiosFotios”.If you wish to investigate wines made fromthe high tannin local Maratheftiko, Koliosmakes an estimable one.You have a choice of where to go next… toChoulou and beyond, or to Statos – Agios Fotios itself, the highest settlement in thePafos district. This village has been built inthe 1970s to house the villagers of Statos and AgiosFotios, who had suffered problemswith terrain subsidence. The newsettlementis well planned with plenty of garden spaces.From here, taking the southwards road toPentalia, we will soon come to a 180 degrees bend on our left . The road leading to thevillage of Galataria and Koilinia starts here.It is steep in parts, but the greenery pleases the eye. So many vines, virtually a homage to Dionysos! The distance between thevillages is tiny and we soon pass from oneto the other -their dwellings and vineyardspractically intermingle!At the centre of the pretty village of Koilinia you will find the “SHOUFAS” winery, a small producer with a strong wine family tradition;grandfather Costas Filippou is a viticulturistcarrying decades of experience. Try thedry red “Maratheftiko” and the white dry“Xynisteri”. Visitors are welcome daily butit’s best to call first.Retracing our steps to where we took the 180 degrees turn we will find a road thatleads to Pentalia, which we reach after fourkm. It is built on a charming mountainsideand contains a lot of traditional, stonehouses, many facing the scenic view of theXeros Valley. Soon after we exit this settlement we meetthe road leading from Statos – AgiosFotios,which will bring us to Amargeti village. It isa beautiful place, rising on the side of theroad amidst an emerald valley. Some of itstraditional houses are refurbished. Here you will findtavernas, coffee shops, and, at thevillage’s centre, the “KALAMOS WINERY”.
At this producer you can taste wines fromlocal as well as imported varieties. Taste thered “AyiaSotira” in dry and medium-dry, made from Mataro grapes, and the dry orsemi-dry “Livades”, produced from Xynisteri.You should also try the “Zivania” of theowner, Mr. Nikos Ignatiou, which maturesin oak barrels. Tasting, complemented by cheeses and dry fruit, carries a fee fororganised groups. Tours are conducted inGreek and English.Continuing downwards we will soon comeupon Eledio, a small but picturesquesettlement, almost joined with its southernneighbour, Axilou village. From here thedistance to Agia Varvara, close to the sea, isabout ten km. Once we reach that area, at theentrance of the Ezousa Valley, nature seemslike a heavenly garden: the soil is awash withgroves, cypress trees and with seasonal cultivations dotted about the plateau.If, from Statos – AgiosFotios, you elected tohead west towards Choulou, you will traverse five km of breathtaking natural beauty. Theroad descends through vineyards, grazing fields and steep slopes marked by abandoned cultivations. The age-old, painstakinglyerected dry-stone walls, hold the slopes in check and the land by them brims with wild shrubs. The sparse trees aid in the impression of gigantic scaffolding reaching towards infinity. When the road closes in on the river the sight is utterly seductive, with aquatic greenery going wild, leading a frenzied hymn to Dionysos. Laurel is the leading lady, followed by reeds, ivy, plane trees, turpentine and pine trees joining in… until, finally, the stony houses of a settlement appear at the end of the straight. And so we arrive at houlou. Here is another charming village that once upon a time was big and flourishing -as indicated by the number of two storey houses. It is typical of European villages; the church holds a prominent position in community life, whilst the coffee shops are close by. The elders sit and discuss the day’s events, some of them twiddling their “Worry Beads”, others playing backgammon. Visitors are of interest to them and they will soon invite you to a cup of Cypriot coffee with a glass of cool mountain water, whilst they tell you of local life, legend and history. There’s a timeless feeling to all this, Mediaeval in some respects. Walk round Choulou’s little streets and feel the drama of Arodafnousa, the girl who stole the heartofRigas(King), causing the anger of the Rigaina(Queen). These and other stories date from the time of the Franks, when the area was in the fief of a knight named “Choulio”, hence the name of the village. A peculiar coincidence is the name of the next village, Lemona -in that there is a city of the same name in Vasco, Spain. To go to Lemona we turn left outside Choulou.
It is a tiny settlement with close family and land-ownership links with the previous village. Some village houses here are being restored whilst others are neglected, often the result of the owning families having emigrated. Now the village is ‘back on the map’, because nearby is “TSANGARIDES WINERY”, not far from the church and in a pleasant position adjacent to trees and the River Ezousa. The Tsangarides family has been making wine for generations and the representative of the present generation, AngelosTsangarides, is winning awards for his wines. The winery is modern and efficient, housed in a new building, albeit with traditional character. Try two fine reds, one made from Mataro and the other from Cabernet Sauvignon. Visitors are welcome but should call first. Re-joining the southward road we head for Letymvou. On the way we pass over the River Ezousa, where we see the almost abandoned village of Kourdaka. Some pretty old stonework buildings are found here. There are vines aplenty hereabouts. Two kilometres from the river (we are now on its west bank) we come to Letymvou. Nearby are the sites of two late Byzantine churches. At the village’s heart are stone fountains and leafy places to find shade. Every year, in July, the “Resi” festival is held here. Resi is a rural traditional dish, most often found these days at wedding parties. In this area there are almonds and deciduous trees but the view as we leave westwards from Letymvou is of vine-clad slopes. After about two kilometres we turn left and take another short detour to Kallepeia village. This is a large place with a go-ahead administration, developing fast with both renovated and new houses and apartments. In the area around the Church there is a traditional tavern. Letymvou is becoming a popular residence for several nationalities. In these modern times it is within a short commuting car drive to Pafos. Returning to our route, we arrive back at Tsada, which we passed in the morning. It is modern and well developed, whilst retaining much of its traditional Cypriot character. Shops, restaurants, food stores and plenty going on, mark this up to date place. Whichever route chosen for this tour, the total distance is not more than 100 kilometres… All along there are countless places to stop, look and explore. And, of course, you have been able to sample and buy a remarkable range of our wines.
Proof, if any is needed, that dear old Dionysos is still with us in spirit… tavernas restaurants ΜITAS 99683982, 96657777 Choulou, Pafos PHITI VILLAGE 26732540, 99138573Fyti, Pafos TO KONATZI TIS KALLEPEIAS TO KONATZI TIS KALLEPEIAS 26642368, 99677744 Arch. Kyprianou, KallepeiaPafosZOODOCHOS PIGI GIA PANTA 26723212, 99771592 Chrysorrogiatissis 31, Amargeti, Pafos APOLLON 26723030, 99632631 Amargeti, Pafos for a good night’s sleep…
NAME LOCATION TELEPHONE NAME LOCATION TELEPHONE
Karydhia Cottage Arodes 24634680, 99659928
Sapho Manor House Drouseia 26332650, 99604010
Piskopos House Episkopi99619146
Samolasi Inn Giolou 99626672
Kostaris Goudi 99626672
Pinou’s House Goudi 99547028
Spanos’ House Goudi 26944833, 99413244
AgiosTheodoros Cottage Choulou 26722397
Rigena’s House Choulou 26932581, 99329272
Loxandra’s House Kathikas 26632150, 99608333
Michalis’ Anoyia Kathikas 99667888
Olga’s Cottage Kato Akourdaleia 99571065
Amarakos Inn Kato Akourdaleia 26633117, 22313374
Konatzi tis Kritou Kritou Tera 99403134
Makrinari KritouTera 26932931
Nikoklis Inn Nikokleia 26432211, 99309279
Archontikotou Meletiou Panagia 26235011, 99518000
Mouskos House Panagia 99678013
Palati of Xylari Panagia 99614673
Stelios’ House Panagia 99433094
Chloe’s House Pano Akourdaleia
Courtesy of the CTO