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Cyprus Internet Directory [ The fruits of the vine ]

The fruits of the vine

From humble beginnings the Vouni Panayia winery has become one of the island’s biggest wine producers )

A LITTLE over 20 years after taking the plunge to start a winery from scratch, Andreas Kyriakides can survey his extensive domain in Panayia with pride.

When he first decided to create a winery in 1987 near the small mountain village where Archbishop Makarios was born, he came to the business armed with little more than his 15 years’ experience as a wine analyst within the government oenological department in Limassol.

He had no family land, little money and three young children to support. But with the solid support of his wife Thelma and a forward-thinking bank manager he went ahead, and for five years the family literally camped out on site as they worked to build their business brick by brick.

The winery soon became one of the country’s success stories, so much so that a few years ago it became clear they needed more space to produce and store their wines and to provide entertainment space for the hundreds of visitors the winery attracts.

The new winery has now been completely redesigned with extra investment to create what is now an integrated custom-made visitor and education centre.

The success of the winery has contributed to the area considerably. Despite being Makarios’ home village, Panayia doesn’t exactly bristle with tourist attractions. Neither the Makarios Museum nor the house where he was born is designed to attract masses of visitors so a trip back down the road to the winery for a wine tour and a nice lunch makes all the difference to a day trip to region.

And there’s another, even more, vital advantage. With the winery in full time production and open all year round, it provides a much-needed place of employment for the locals.

“The youngsters living in our mountain villages have few if any opportunities to work close to home, they all have to leave to work in the towns,” said Andreas. “Here we employ a good number of them along with all my family members so the winery is also helping keep the village alive. Our young people are now going to be able to both live and work and raise their children here.”

The new winery is huge compared to some of the smaller, boutique wineries we have become accustomed to. It sits on 3,500sqm, at an altitude of 850m above sea level, allowing visitors a genuine vista from northwest and Chrysochou Bay, all the way across to the Akamas, taking in Laona heights, the hills of Vouni and right down to Paphos airport.

Vines here are cultivated at one thousand metres above sea level and will on an annual basis produce over half a million bottles, a number that is set to increase over the next five years.

Standing with Andreas in one of the many cellars facing an almost mesmerising array of 600,000 bottles of red wine I had to ask how he had managed it all.

“It’s cost millions of euros to achieve all this, and each one had to be spent well. Of course it wasn’t easy, but I believe my brain cells actually increased, instead of being lost throughout all these years of planning and building,” he said. “I can never, ever forget I am working with a living thing and must take great care of it through its entire life cycle of youth, maturity, and old age because, if wine isn’t treated with respect then it will wither and die like everything else in this earth that’s been ignored or treated badly.”

Walking through the various areas of the winery it is evident that great care has been taken to accommodate less active visitors with good disabled access and toilet facilities all up to EU standards.

But it’s in the testing area that most visitors inevitably choose to settle. Here they enjoy a sampling of Andreas’ classic Plakota (red) or a glass of refreshing Alina (dry white) before perhaps moving bravely on to a glass Zivania.

There are two restaurants: one designed for al fresco dining which is set above the winery enabling summer visitors to eat and drink up both the product and the view. The winter venue is enclosed on the same level and it’s here the family can now cater for large parties and special celebrations.

There is also a positive green approach to both their winemaking and the cultivation of foodstuffs, and developed on site is a flourishing organic vegetable garden which supplies the restaurant.

All of the food served is strictly traditional with classic seasonal dishes home cooked on the premises by Andreas’ relatives.

It has been a long, hard slog for Andreas and his family, but there are no regrets.

“If you don’t love this business, then don’t do it, because you have to be totally dedicated to every aspect of the cultivation and making of wine,” Andreas said. “We may have grown larger but we want always to remain as human and as in touch as possible with our visitors. Hospitality has to be at the heart of what we have created here, we want everyone to feel this when they visit.

“I will be leaving an important legacy to my children also to the village, so as long as we can still cultivate the vines we will always be here making wine. It’s always been my life, now I can keep sharing my passion and knowledge with those who come to visit us.”

n Vouni Panayia Winery Tel 26 722770, Fax 26 722879, email
Open seven days a week

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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