Modern History of Cyprus Wine

19th Century to Modern History of Cyprus Wine

The modern Cyprus wine has a very long history that will take you back to the ancient times before the Roman Empire has ever stepped foot on the island nation. The country has been sold many time and re-given to countless rulers that had led to hard times for the winemakers. 

[This is a 3 part series - to read part 1 about the Ancient History of Cyprus Wine, click here or to read part 2 about Medieval Cyprus wine, click here].

While people point to the British Empire as the starting point of the modern growth of Cyprus wine, they were not in a hurry to invest in the wine industry. The good thing that happened during the British rule is the founding of ETKO, which is one of the major winemaking companies today.

The Phylloxera Epidemic 

Mainland Europe was inflicted with the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th Century that destroyed most of the wine producing wines. Fortunately, Cyprus had strict quarantine regulations in place leaving it unaffected by the epidemic. As a result of the wine shortage in Europe, the prices of Cyprus wine increased and resulted to a mini boom for the winemaking industry. And even after the epidemic, Cyprus produced quality wines that are cheap that led to more demand from the locals, Britain, France, and the Middle East.

Golden Age of Cyprus Wine

The golden age of Cyprus wine took place 20 years into the 20th century, right after World War I. The British Empire controlled most of the Middle East, and Cyprus wine was exported to all the neighbouring countries that include Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

It was also during that time when the current largest Cyprus wine company KEO was born. The company is popular for its local sherry that’s exported to overseas markets. It was founded by a group of local businessmen and the company purchased the Chaplin winery in 1928.


In 1943, trade union members from ETKO started a cooperative that they named LOEL. The winery was the first public company in Cyprus that has thousands of shareholders, most of whom are winegrowers. At present, the winery can process around 25 million kilos of grapes each year.

In 1947, winegrowers started SODAP, a cooperative that aims to protect the rights of all growers in Cyprus. At that time, it was composed of around 10,000 families from 144 vine growing villages in the island. The cooperative played a vital role in the stabilisation of the Cyprus wine industry.

Ktima Gerolemo Winery

The Rise of Cyprus Sherry

The Cyprus Sherry was first introduced in the market in 1937, and its major market was northern Europe. By the time of the 1960s, Britain was consuming half of the production of Cyprus wine, majority of which is sweet sherry. Cyprus Sherry was more affordable than Spanish Sherry because the latter was taxed more. However, the advantage was erased when British tax laws were changed.

At present, the Cyprus wine industry has implemented reforms to help improve the quality of wine instead of increasing the volume of wines produced by the wineries in the island. New varieties of grapes were introduced to the growers, and the government provided incentives for their cultivations. Hopefully, this will start another golden age in Cyprus wine history.