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Make a grape escape to the sun in Cyprus; travelnews IN ASSOCIATION WITH.

MOST people think of France and Spain when it comes to a glass of vino but locals in Cyprus have been making wine for 6000 years.

Vineyards are all over the south-west of the island, sitting on the sunny lower slopes of the Troodos massif.

The main red varieties are Ofthalmo, Maratheftiko and Mavro, while there is a white grape called Xynisteri.

The latter two are combined to make the famous Commandaria, a sweet wine that is one of the oldest in the world.

There are plenty of opportunities to try Cypriot wines, from village shops where staff are happy to offer tastings to wineries and vineyards.

The Cypriot tourist board publish a guide to wine routes so visitors can hire a car to explore, with groups of wine villages easily accessible from Paphos and Limassol.

There is a wine museum in Erimi and visitors to the villages of Omodos and Laneia can see vast ancient wine presses, which fill entire rooms of the old stone houses.

The annual Limassol wine festival is a great event. Staged in the municipal gardens along the seafront, there are stalls, tavernas, fountains, music and, let's not forget, lots of free wine. This years' fest ends tomorrow.

With 485 miles of coastline, the sea is never far away when you're in Cyprus.

For those who want action and adventure, you can waterski, windsurf, snorkel, canoe, jet-ski and sail - or simply swim.

Sea temperatures are in the 20Cs from April to November.

For paddling with a panorama, swim off the coast by Aphrodite's Rock where, legend has it, the goddess of love rose from the sea.

Water is central to more relaxing pursuits, too. Cyprus is noted for its luxury hotels with extensive spas.

Most of them have thalassotherapy options, where mineral-rich seawater and seaweed are used to tone and revitalise body and skin.

Le Meridien Limassol Spa and Resort have the only indoor/outdoor thalassotherapy spa in Europe.

The spa at Aphrodite Hills offers a host of packages, from two-hour options to five-day programmes.

And at Ayii Anargyri Resort, a mineral-rich spring running down the hill is channelled into the spa and used for treatments.

From mud baths to hydro-massage and aromatherapy to algae wraps, there are searelated treatments to suit just about anyone.

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VINE TIME: Island has a great wine festival
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 5, 2009
Words:390
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