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There is archeological evidence that winemaking on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus may have existed as many 6000 years ago. Its location off the southern coast of Turkey and relatively near the Greek islands has always made it an attractive trading hub, as well as easy target conquered by many civilizations over the centuries. Its wine industry became especially prominent during the Middle Ages and the Crusades, as European traders found a market back home. A version of the sweet wine still produced today known as Commandaria (the highest ranking knights were “commanderies”) rose to prominence in the 12th century and was said to be a favorite of the Plantagenets. This is an early precursor to foreign English-stronghold fortified wines like Madeira and Marsala. Wine production on Cyprus came to a near standstill during the Ottoman occupation between the 17th and 19th centuries until the British Empire stepped in again around the 1870s. While most of the world suffered from the Phylloxera blight, strict quarantine conditions staved off those pesky mites on Cyprus. For this reason, many of the vines of indigenous varietals such as Mavro are very old, original plantings. 

Eventually, the standard international varieties were also planted on Cyprus, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Carignan and Chardonnay. Riesling has also been cultivated with some success at higher elevations. In the 1930s, a fortified product known as “Cyprus Sherry” from Palomino and Malvasia grapes became a successful export to northern Europe. This industry died out in the 1970s with a shift in consumer tastes. In the 1990s, the sherry label was branded for exclusive use on Spanish wines from Jerez. 
The late 1970s and 80s saw a push in low quality, mass produced, blended Cypriot wines that were mostly marketed to eastern bloc countries. The business was predominately controlled by four major cooperatives who sourced grapes all over the island and were located on the coastal cities of Paphos and Limassol. This often meant the grapes traveled very far from their source in the hot sun. But this trend also died out with shifting consumer tastes, and also the fall of communism. 
An effort to overhaul the Cypriot wine industry began in the 1990s. An appellation system doubling as a quality control measure is now in effect, and the industry continues to grow with the rise of smaller, regional wineries. 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

One of the oldest wine making nations – Description from yiannos

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