Scene II: Cyprus

If you can figure out the names of the other countries please send us a copy…

We’re on our way down from New Helvetia Hotel and the marvelous hills and mountains surrounding. Rough and stoney but drivable roads, with no traffic. The Zambartas winery was both beautiful and their “tasting room” delicious.

Please notice the background of the enormous vineyards rolling off down the hills but not- climbing the mountains behind them.

His wife is the administrator of the tasting room and helps run the business while he is the vineyard and wine crafting master. (And the kids just do their thing of squashing grapes on each  other.)

From the vineyard owner, “The region is home to centuries old terraced vineyards (you can see them stretching and climbing up the hills) with unique indigenous grape varieties. There is nothing more exciting for a winemaker than to continue this heritage in a contemporary way and we are excited to make wine out of our local grape varieties such as Xynisteri, Maratheftiko & Yiannoundi. The Zambartas family sets their bar very high in terms of quality and style.”

This rough country is protected by the gifts of nature; rocks for everything: houses, roads, walls, and most importantly things drinkable.

A little background of Cyprus in necessary. In 1119 Richard the Lionheart conquered Cyprus. The reason for this (and other bloody battles) is apparent.

Cyprus lay at the crossroad of the Eastern Mediterranean and its rich copper deposits were the cause for the first steps out the Stone Age. (And the reason for its name: Kyprus = Copper).

The Troodos mountains (which we had just left) contained large deposits of copper and Cyprus became the largest producer and exporter of copper in the Mediterranean basin.

This is an expert from my husband’s recent article for the American Wine Society Journal that will be published this Summer:

“Cyprus is a small island–roughly 3500 sq. miles, making it larger than Delaware but smaller than Connecticut,–in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  It lies 60 miles west of the Syrian coast and miles south of Turkey’s southern shores.  Athens is over 500 miles to the northwest.

With its strategic position in the Mediterranean, the island has over the centuries seen many players and occupiers: the Phoenicians, the Hellenistic dynasty of Alexander the Great and the Romans.  The Byzantines had their short stay in the 10th century.  And, of course, there were the  Crusaders (11th century).  Richard the Lionheart captured the island then turned it over to the Knights Templar who in turn sold it to the French noble family of the Lusignans (a 300 year reign).  Then came the Genovese and Venetians.  The Ottomans had a 300 year hold before Britain took administrative rights to Cyprus in 1878.  This hold lasted until 1960 when Cyprus established independence. However, animosity between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots  soon surfaced and in 1974 the Turkish government sent troops to Cyprus to put down a coup d’état–a coup that was encouraged  by Athens.  Since that time the island has been partitioned into the ethnically Greek south Republic of Cyprus  and the  northern Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (recognized  only by Turkey).  A “Green Zone” buffer border separates the two–a 112 mile border with only 5 vehicular crossing points plus two more pedestrian crossings in the walled city of Nicosia, the capital of both “counties”. One island, two cultures, two languages, two currencies (Euros, south/ Turkish Lira, north). After over 40 years the island is still resolutely divided!”

Our last stop was this Castle Kolossi.

During the 13th century, the castle served as the Grand Commander of the Knights Templar and after the fall of Acre in 1291 the castle served as the headquarters of the knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It was built with military architecture offering security within the area and resisting any attacks. At a height of 21 meters and a length of 15 meters on the outside and 14 meters on the inside.

Now enough education, back to the Zambarta’s winery for some drinks— and it was good!

“The Sweetness of your love is like Cyprus wine.” Mark Antony said to Cleopatra as a wedding present.


About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels.
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