Cyprus has a history of more than 5.500 years in wine production with vineyards shaping the rural landscape of the island. However, wine imports have progressively captured two thirds of the share of the local market, outcompeting local SMEs that need to create a unique identity for their product. Among other factors, a unique identity for Cypriot wine can be based on the indigenous grape varieties (e.g. Xynisteri, Mavro), which give high-quality wines (e.g. PDO wine Commandaria). Furthermore, areas with vineyards in Cyprus are characterized as High Nature Value farmlands (HNVfs), because of their rich biodiversity and landscape types. The unique indigenous varieties together with the environmentally-friendly production methods can be used to strengthen the identity of the Cypriot wine, through an effective branding strategy.
The European Union (EU) developed the concept of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), which aims at communicating to consumers the main environmental impacts for the production and distribution of a product. The ECO-WINERY project (https://sustagric.weebly.com/ecowinery.html
), funded by the Research and Innovation Foundation of Cyprus) aims at promoting eco-innovation in vineyards and wineries to enable local SMEs differentiate their wines based on the inherently low environmental impact and significance for the cultural heritage of the island. The SME Nicolaides boutique winery (https://www.nicolaideswinery.com/#nicolaides_winery) has partnered with four respected institutions (Cyprus University of Technology, Open University of Cyprus, National Technical University of Athens, Aberdeen University) to determine for the first time the PEF for a Cypriot wine.
The consortium will establish an EXCELLENCE HUB to determine wine PEF and:
a) deliver a user-friendly tool for the determination of the environmental footprint of wine in line with consumer concerns,
b) explore best practices for lowering the environmental footprint of wine and
c) create a protocol for the production of eco-friendly wine.
The project will deliver novel and high-quality knowledge on PEF determination, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration in vineyards, towards low footprint wine production, zero waste economy and climate change mitigation. Networking activities with leading organizations and enterprises from other countries will promote the flow of information and will accelerate pioneering progress in the field. EcoWinery also support the employment of young researchers. The Ecowinery project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus.