An Honest Review Of Sterna Winery, Kathikas, Cyprus
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Warning: negative post!
If being given shot glasses of paint-stripper by a grumpy man then being yelled at and chased away for not buying bottles (of the worst wine you’ve ever tasted) is your idea of a wine tasting then do visit Sterna Winery.
If not, I recommend you try one of Cyprus’ many other boutique wineries instead.
I never write negative posts. I don’t want to share, dwell on or spend time plugging somewhere I went that totally sucked. If I’m taking the time and trouble to put a piece together for a website or magazine it’s usually because I loved it. That’s the stuff I like to share, and that’s just the happy, positive kind of girl I am.
But a recent experience at the Sterna Winery in Cyprus has pushed me to write only my second-ever negative post (the first was a place that kept my new-mum friend waiting for half an hour at our table having sent her friends away).
We’d spent a week in Cyprus on a constant mission to squeeze in some wine tasting. It was difficult because there’s so much to do in Cyprus so we kept finding ourselves short of time.
But as Cyprus is a burgeoning wine-tasting destination, we constantly drove past enticing wineries and were keen to give one of them a try – when the driver was happy to take a break and watch the rest of us drink.
Most of the 50 or so boutique wineries in the Krasohoria (wine villages) aren’t open all day every day so you can’t just show up like you can in Franschhoek, South Africa or other established wine-producing areas, you usually have to book, which caused more confusion.
The Cyprus tourist board does produce a super-helpful Wine Routes of Cyprus booklet which gives you the names and phone numbers of most of the wineries laid out as a series of driving tours,and for the most part further research suggested this booklet was sound: nearby restaurants recommendations were born out by the advice of local friends, and the guide books mentioned many of the same wineries.
Sterna Winery happened to be in the book and on a road we drove past often to get back to our villa and was open later than many others (most close between 3 and 5, Sterna is open until 6 every day). So as it was convenient for us to reach and meant the designated driver wasn’t forced to curtail his evening too much we decided to stop in. This was a mistake.
At first glance it seemed like a small, fairly rustic winery, although my suspicions were aroused by the large amount of tourist souvenirs being sold outside of the natural remit of wine – and the high prices. The guy in charge had our party of six sit down at a table, and we noticed that all the other tables filled up with tourists too. So far so normal.
But the man running the winery (who I later discovered has a reputation locally) proceeded to give us small shot glasses of really dreadful wine, at high speed. Yelling his rehearsed comedy routine and the names of each wine at us, and demanding that we drink quickly so he could fill the shot glass with the next specimen: red, white, rose it all went in the same glass!
The atmosphere in the room became subdued, like that of a school classroom when an aggressive and unpleasant teacher is in charge – and I guess we were the ones sniggering at the back.
I then heard the couple at the next table discussing the fact that the policy was you MUST buy two bottles of wine, something which isn’t written anywhere or verbally stated at any time.
At this point our group decided to save ourselves, and as soon as someone (British of course, only Brits would buy bad wine out of politeness and the wish to avoid a scene) succumbed to the pressure and the owner popped off to get their plonk, we made a dash for the car.
But we were followed out to the car park. We had an exchange with the owner who demanded we all buy bottles of his wine. We offered to pay for the tasting but said we couldn’t buy bottles of wine if we wanted to as we couldn’t get them in our luggage. In the end we simply sped off, cursing the only bad experience we’d had in Cyprus.
What’s sad is that people are afraid of doing wine tasting in case they are pressured to buy, but good wine and a good producer will make an impact on you and you’ll seek out the wine at home or buy online even if you can’t buy there and then.
Where to go instead?
The winery that does have an excellent reputation in Cyprus is the stylish and modern Dafermou Winery located between Limassol and Larnaca. My advice would be to try this for a real taste of Cypriot wine.
Have you been to Sterna Winery, or were you planning on going before seeing this review? Do you think wine tastings should come with a commitment to buy wine, no matter how bad it tastes?
Tags: Cyprus, Kathikas, Paphos, Sterna Winery, wine, wine tasting
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