It is with great pleasure that I am among wine producers, wine lovers and other experts of the wine sector to address the award ceremony of the 14th Cyprus Wine Competition. An institution of recognised value since 2006, an institution of prestige and credibility, which has made a significant contribution to the wine scene in Cyprus.
It is now widely known that the modern quality wines of Cyprus are already making excellent progress in international markets. Therefore, I would like to stress that tonight not only the best wines that participated in the 14th Cyprus Wine Competition are being awarded. Tonight, the "Cypriot wine", the "wine of our land" is being awarded as the culmination of the efforts, sacrifices and cooperation of vine growers, wine producers, experts and technocrats, which has led to the great progress in wine that the country has made in recent years!
This year's competition, which was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment and the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), saw the participation of 30 local wineries, submitting 163 different wine samples, registered in two categories based on approved and recognised international standards. One category is that of dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet wines and the other category is that of sweet wines, i.e. wines with a sugar content of more than 45 grams per litre.
A prize is awarded to 30% of the entries from each category, as defined by the OIV's international standard. As a result, 44 wines have received a gold medal and 2 wines have received a silver medal in the category of dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet wines. In the category of sweet wines, which includes among others the P.O.P. 'Koumandaria' wine, 4 wines have received a large gold medal.
In addition, special distinctions have been given for wines produced exclusively from the indigenous varieties of Cyprus such as 'Maratheftiko', 'Giannoudi', 'Xynisteri', 'Opthalmo' and 'Spourtiko'. However, apart from the awards, it was primarily the noble competition between wine producers for quality recognition that was fostered. The importance to be attached by all to the consistent quality, diversity, authenticity and uniqueness of the wines of Cyprus was once again emphasised. From a commercial point of view, and beyond any promotion of the Competition, I turn to you, the wine producers of the country, and I invite you to take such actions in order to strengthen the already positive current in favour of Cypriot wines of Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication and varietal wines. Increasing the recognition of wines and establishing the wine identity of Cyprus in the minds of consumers is a useful tool in this effort.
I would like to thank Professor Dr Antonio Morata, President of the seven-member Jury and supervisor of the Competition, as well as the other members of the Jury for their valuable contribution to the successful conclusion of the Competition, and for their participation in the Technical Workshop held in the framework of the Competition events.
As I have just mentioned, I would like once again to express my appreciation to the Commissioner of the OIV and President of the Jury of Tasters, Professor Dr Antonio Morata, as well as to the other members of the Jury for their valuable contribution to the success of this competition and for their participation at the Technical Conference.
I would like to take this opportunity to stress that as the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment and as the Government, we support every initiative that contributes to the promotion of the quality wines of Cyprus. Supporting our wine communities, wine growers and wine producers is one of the main objectives of our policy in the wine sector. In this spirit and in the context of implementing Cyprus' Strategic Plan for the Common Agricultural Policy programming period 2023-2027, the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment manages an excellent tool to support the wine sector, the National Support Programme for the Vine and Wine Sector (NSSP) 2019-2023. With this National Programme, which will be completed on 15 October 2023, more than €22 million of net European funds have been granted to vine growers and winemakers.
Similar amounts of support are expected to be granted in the new programming period of the Common Agricultural Policy until 2027, through very important support interventions such as the restructuring and conversion of vineyards with varieties that enjoy greater acceptance in the wine market, the construction and repair of traditional dry-stone walls in vineyards on slopes, various investments to modernise and attract visitors to wineries and the promotion of wines in third countries. I particularly highlight the very important intervention for the promotion of wines in third countries, which is scheduled to be launched in the second half of 2023 and which should be used as a priority by our winemakers. Its successful implementation and the use of the available funds will allow the communication of our strengths as a historical country of viticulture and wine production.
In conclusion, I would like to thank again all the contributors of the 14th Cyprus Wine Competition, who have been partners of the Ministry and supporters of the institution over the years. My special thanks go to the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, the Limassol Municipality, the Cyprus Winemakers' Association, the Cyprus Winemakers' Association, the Cyprus Association of Graduate Oenologists, the Cyprus Oenophiles' Association and the OinoArt Oenophiles' Group.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not give credit to the Department of Agriculture and especially to the staff of the Department of Viticulture and Oenology for the exemplary organization of the 14th Cyprus Wine Competition.
Thank you very much.
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