Bringing passion and tradition together
Owned by Mustafa and Sengül Seyfi, and with the support of other members of the family, Chateau St Hilarion was created with the aim of producing quality wines to put North Cyprus on the wine map. It’s true to say that before this project nobody was making any world class wine in the north of the island.
Mustafa first started researching the project in the mid 1990’s. Aided by international wine consultant, Keith Grainger. Considerable efforts went into finding and analysing the first vineyard at Geçitköy. On a gently sloping site the clay and limestone soil was considered to be ideal for growing red varieties particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. Our first wines produced in 2004 were a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Since then, more land has been purchased primarily at Güzelyurt which has been planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and many other varieties. As all the vines mature, and with a careful restriction on yield, the quality of the grapes is getting better every year. All the vineyards have been trellised and fitted with a drip irrigation system and the planting undertaken to the best European practices.
The vineyards - care for the environment and the local communities
Every grape variety has its own characteristics and work in the vineyards is carried out in order to get the best from each and every vine. Annual work includes winter pruning, plowing, tying the vines, leaf removal, summer pruning, green harvesting and grape picking. Since the estabilishment of the winery, the vineyards have attracted growth in the nearby small communities by providing seasonal work for the villagers.
We are very careful to be as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, sprays against mildews are only carried out when weather conditions indicate an out break is likely, and using contact (not systemic) treatments. Organic fertiliser is applied, and beneficial insects are encouraged. Our irrigation program is mindful of the need to conserve precious water and vineyard waste is rotted for use as compost.
The vineyard at Geçitköy has proved excellent for producing Cabernet Sauvignon with great complexity and with wonderful balance of ripe tannins and refreshing acidity. The Shiraz grown here gets super ripe and the fruit shows great character of red and black berries with gentle spiciness.
The Güzelyurt vineyards are more recently planted, but already the Cabernet Sauvignon is performing very well. Also planted here is Chardonnay - the challenge of producing quality white wine in the hot climate of North Cyprus is considerable but we are rising to this.
The winery - first class equipment and ever expanding
The winery at Geçitköy was purpose built in 2003 and expanded considerably in 2006. The equipment for wine making was all purchased new from respected manufacturers in Italy and Great Britain.
Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats all of which have built-in cooling and temperature control. The vats used for making red wines also have a state-of-the-art pump over mechanism for extracting colours, flavours and tannin from the fermenting juice. All the systems in the winery have been devised to maximise quality. For example, we have a nitrogen generator which produces inert gas for blanketing wines to prevent unwanted oxidation.
Our reserve range of wines is put into French oak barrels for maturation. During the time in barrel, we take great care to keep the wine ‘topped up’, and the barrels are racked and fined as necessary. For the wines that are just matured in vat, an aging is still taking place, but the resulting wine is of a fresher, younger style than those matured in barrel.
Since 2019 the winery has been expanded further to house state of the art distillery equipment imported from Germany allowing us to triple distill and produce spirits such as Gin, Vodka, Zivania and Raki to high European standards.