Cyprus Wine


Wine’s been around a long time in Cyprus, as you can note if you read our potted history.

The tourist people like to romanticize about “6,000 Years of Wine History”, but this is only of help if you can drink well today.

And you can.

There are now more than 200 types and styles of Cyprus wine, white, red and rosé; dry, medium and sweet. Prices (in the shops) from €4.00 to $40.00 a bottle. There are 40+ wineries, producing from a modest 20,000 bottles a year to well over a million. Many brands are widely distributed, whilst others are only available from the winery (which often makes a super outing)

The last twenty years have seen a sea-change in Cyprus wine. Then, grapes were grown in the hills as a cash crop and, at harvest time, taken by truck to “wine factories” in Limassol, sometimes languishing in the hot sun for several days, to the detriment of the end product. Cypriots didn’t drink wine – their alcoholic tipple was beer and “Koniaki” (Cyprus brandy), or the local firewater an eau-de-vie called “Zivania” which was truly a winter warmer and sometimes fatal.

Today the vineyard area has shrunk and the grapes, from being a cash crop of unremarkable local variety, are either famous international varieties or re-discovered and nurtured old Cyprus types. And the vineyards, recently or newly planted, showing signs of resurgence, cluster round the regional wineries in the hills of Limassol and Paphos.

The resulting wines range from “drinkable” to “very good indeed” and there is a wonderful selection for the visitor to try. Most are dry, but there are some good medium-dry and dessert wines, too. And one mustn’t forget the Cyprus “sweetie” of legend, “Commandaria”, which has entranced invaders, occupiers, friendly visitors and residents for centuries.   In recent years, as well as taking to foods from all over the globe, younger Cypriots have taken to drinking wine with their meals. Initially snobbish and buying “imported” wines, they have now enthusiastically embraced the wines of their own country.

In this section you will see where can buy wine at the gate for most, if not all, of the wineries evaluated and recommended by Cyprus Gourmet.

Wine in restaurants

Although there are now 4,000 or more wines imported into Cyprus, the best value for money wines on restaurant lists are those from Cyprus. The catering industry here is not noted for giving bargains and most mark-ups are 200% or more, sometimes reaching 400%. This is short-sighted and not good business. So many diners stick with Cyprus wines – and, to be frank, they are wise to do so. Look over our winery listings for the wines we recommend from each one. The other good comment we would make is that despite having many fine imported wines (at prices to match) on their lists, hotel and restaurant wine waiters are frequently proud to recommend Cyprus wines.

CW - Pithari & Winemaking     CW - Argyrides, gleaming stainless steel tanks  07-08

In living memory this method of wine making (manual crushing juice into a terra cotta fermenting urn) has been replaced by-state-of-the-art temperature controlled stainless steel fermenters and storage vats.


Tiny unkempt vineyards of undisclosed grape varieties have gone – and in their place well tended plantings of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz surround the new wineries of the hill villages.

CW - SODAP Isl Vines White 2007 1

Since 1996, Cyprus’s major wine export has been the range of “Island Vines” and “Mountain Vines”, red and white. It is a consistently big seller in the UK’s Co-operative Supermarket chain.

CW - Ayia Mavri Moscatel Gift Box

Cyprus wines, like this dessert Muscat, are winners of awards in France, UK, Greece and elsewhere, and are now beautifully presented.




Once upon a time… Cyprus wine was a joke. The “leading” white wines, made in factories in Limassol, were largely stale, flat and well on the way to oxidisation. The reds, mostly made from Mavro were dull and lifeless. The reason, of course, was that grapes were grown as a cash crop by village people who only made wine in Pithari, but who sold most of their grapes to wineries 40 kilometres away. The crop often languished in panniers and other containers for days by the roadside awaiting transport.

In the 1970s just one white wine stood out from the rest, “Ayios Andronicos”, from Chrysorrogiatissa monastery. At the end of a visit then, I took several bottles back to England. One evening we were invited to a small Cypriot restaurant in south London, which had no alcohol licence, so I took along some Ayios Andronicos. On tasting it the chef-proprietor refused to believe it was from Cyprus. Mostly Xynisteri, it demonstrated, all those years ago, that our indigenous white grape could make good white wine, and was one of the factors that made me its strong advocate when I took up residence in 1991 and started writing about wine and food.

This story shows how far Cyprus wine has come in a few decades. I was reminded of it when I read vintage reports for 2014 sent to me by some of our best winemakers. What they demonstrate is that growing vines and making wine is not something you do is you want consistent income and profitability. It is a tough business and Cyprus winemakers are a wonderful, dedicated group of people, who deserve our support. Which means, buy our own wines, because they are good!

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Three Good Men and True. Left to right: Theodoros Fikardos, Costas Tsiakkas and Marcos Zambartas

In terms of quality it has been a good year for Cyprus wine. Limassol wineries were hit by storms which damaged the crop, but all declare quality generally to be “very good”. Xynisteri is doing well. Paphos wineries generally report a good year for both quality and quantity.

Theodoros Fikardos, the wonderfully rugged individualist of Cyprus wine, and a great friend of many years, tells me his best grape this year is Xynisteri and he has made 30,000 litres, much of it from his own grapes. This is his largest volume – the next is half that: Mataro (Mourvèdre) at 15,000 litres. What I love about Theodoros is that he happily flies in the face of accepted industry practice by making a wide range of wines, and sells it all. His wines are like the man, ebullient and friendly.

Rebecca Argyrides, at Vasa Winery: estimated production around 13,500 bottles, shared between Maratheftiko, Merlot/Cabernet, Viognier and Chardonnay. “We got heavily hit by hail this year. Consequently production has been badly hit. Quality was great but we are still vinifying so we cannot judge which variety is best this year yet”

At Pelendri, Costas Tsiakkas has always been honest and practical in his approach. He uses all the counsel he can get: “We have just had a visit from a consultant from Beaune, who comes every three months and checks on the wines and gives us general guidelines.  The comments were quite favorable.  We may not make the best wines in the world, but for us the most important thing is that our wines are good value for money. We make slow but steady steps towards better and better quality. We have invested heavily in new vineyards and are not shy to admit our mistakes, correct them and move forward”.

Of the 2014 harvest Costas reports: “The quality was good but not super.  There was hail in Omodos and Vasa, which destroyed the Cabernet we were getting from there so had to rely only on grapes from Pelendri and Agros. Our vineyards at the winery surprised us with a good and plentiful quantity of Sauvignon, so this year’s production has a great percentage of our own grapes”.

“The 2014 Yiannoudi is our best this year.  We do not know the grape very well yet but it seems to be very promising. Our 2014 production is 35,000 bottles of Xynisteri, 28,000 Rosé, 10,000 Cabernet Sauvignon, 5,000 Merlot, 35,000 Porfyros, 4,000 Vamvakada (Maratheftiko), 1000 Yiannoudi, 20,000 Sauvignon Blanc 10,000 Chardonnay, 3,000 Commandaria and 3000 Zivania

“We will be in the market with this year’s a Xynisteri, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Rodinos by December 2014.  We are now selling 2012 Cabernet, 2012 Merlot, 2012 Vamvakada and 2013 Porfyros. This year we hired a viticulturist just for the summer months, which we will repeat next year.  It really helped us and allowed us to pay more attention to detail”.

Like most Cy[rus wineries, Zambartas pursues its own individualistic path, as an up-market rather boutique-style winery. Very sadly, the highly successful father-son team which, in a shorter time than many of its competitors established a reputation for classy, quality, mid to high price wines, has been broken by the untimely death of Akis Zambartas. Former Managing Director of KEO, Akis had started things rolling, whilst son Marcos completed his oenology degree and hands-on learning in varied vineyards and wineries around the world.

Marcos has been full-time for several years and now takes over leadership of a close-knit family team. Their seven wines have established a niche in the market at leading hotels and restaurants, as well as selected retail outlets. Marcos tells me that in addition to the “regular” seven of their wines this year they are making a small quantity of “single vineyard” Xynisteri from a plot they own in Mandria. Now that is one I must taste!

Increased Distribution for Ezousa

Distributors Ghalanos have agreed with winemaker Michalis Constantinides to distribute the wines of his Kannaviou village based Ezousa winery. This marks yet another important step in what is, by international wine standards, a remarkable career. Though he is a Graduate in Food and Drink Chemistry, Michalis is largely self-taught as a winemaker. His first vintage was only eleven years ago, but he has won a number of awards in that time, some of them from Cyprus Gourmet.

All Michalis’s wines are worth exploring, with, for me, the Xynisteri and the Maratheftiko Rosé are the stand-outs. The range srocked by Ghalanos is: White: Xynisteri, 2013; Xynisteri, 2012; Viognier, 2013. Rosé: “Eros” Maratheftiko, 2013; “Gris” Maratheftiko, 2013.,

Red: Maratheftiko-Cabernet Sauvignon-Mourvèdre , 2012, blend ; Cabernet Sauvignon-Mourvedre, 2010, b;end; Syrah, varietal; “Metharme”, Maratheftiko, blend.

Sherry–a Decent Drop of Fortification


In Britain, sherry may be a minority tipple, but it is a large enough one for a good range to be stocked in wine stores and supermarkets, whereas in Cyprus it is not easy to find and the range available is quite limited.  The demise of what used to be called Cyprus sherry also diminished […]

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The Wines of Cyprus in History


Part 1    The Greek Connection “The World is full of wonders, but nothing is more wonderful than man” Sophocles (c.496 – c.405 BC) The golden age of Greece saw some of the finest works of art, architecture and literature ever bestowed by one civilisation upon its successors.  It also elevated man to freedom — of […]

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