Limassol region is not just the cosmopolitan city by the sea; it extends to its wonderfully quaint wine villages that sit on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountain Range, and where wine has been produced with the same love and pride by the same communities for hundreds of years!
The Troodos Mountain Range has four clusters of wine making communities. The ones that belong specifically to Limassol region have a collective identity as ‘Krasochoria Lemesou’ (literally translated as ‘wine villages of Limassol’!). There are 20 villages involved in the winemaking process, and you can explore them on a designated Krasochoria wine route created by the Cyprus Deputy Ministry of Tourism.
I have not visited all of them as there are just so many, but I have driven through the Troodos range and stopped at a few of them and can confirm that each is equally as picturesque as the next! The scenery here of mountains and vineyards and the fresh, clean air are something that all will enjoy – not just connoisseurs of wine (or oenophiles as they are called!), and of course, the villages offer more than just wine, wine, wine.
In particular, Omodos village is very popular and more ‘touristy’ thanks to a charming, cobbled square flanked by cafes and shops selling narrow-knit lace; a monastery; a medieval grape press, and steep winding lanes with little stores and bakeries. The village also has a large number of wineries for its size and is popular as an agrotourism destination.
Another favourite is Platres, which fills with holidaying locals during the summer months. Platres rises up in stages and has many things to see and do, including waterfalls, nature trails camping/picnic spots and even a rope park where you can swing from the trees. There is also a handmade, artisan chocolate workshop with some exotic and unusual flavours.
Di-vine History of Wine
Let’s rewind a little so that you can feel just how old the Cypriot winemaking tradition is… 6000 years in fact! If that sounds impressive, more impressive still is that Commandaria (Koumandaria) dessert wine – produced in a subcluster of 14 Krasochoria known as the ‘Commandaria Villages’ – is the oldest named wine in the world that is still in production.
This basically means that whilst there were other wines made before or the same time as Commandaria, none of these have been continually produced to this day… except Commandaria. So, whilst you are sipping on your glass, imagine that Richard the Lionheart and the Knights of St. John and the Knight Templars were once drinking the same wine thousands of years ago! In fact, the wine was given its name from ‘La Grande Commanderie’, their Kolossi (Limassol) headquarters.
Commandaria is made with Mavros (red) and Xynisteri (white) grapes which are both indigenous, ancient varieties that grow at the Krasochoria. As such, the villages celebrate the glut of the grape harvest with annual festivals. The Commandaria Festival is held towards the end of summer, whereby each Commandaria Village takes it in turn to host the main event of the festival, and the Grape Festival is a longer celebration spread over one or two autumn months with a series of different events held at different villages.
As a side note, personally, I am not a huge fan of Commandaria as it is very sweet, but as a Greek Orthodox, I have tasted it at church during Holy Communion.
If you would like to learn more about this rich history, pop into one of the museums found in the Krasochoria, including the Cyprus Wine Museum in Erimi village that is housed in an old inn! The 150-year-old building was once the haunt of wine merchants who would stay there overnight on the way to town to sell their wine. The museum exhibits tools and equipment used in traditional winemaking, and also has a wine tasting room. Cheers!