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As one of the world’s oldest wine producers, with history that goes back around 7,000 years, Turkey’s winemakers are thriving in the revival of a deeply rooted craft.
Vineyards all across the country are finding success in the cultivation and production of both local and imported grape varieties, winning awards and making their mark on the international market.
For wine enthusiasts, Turkey is a burgeoning and mostly undiscovered destination, from the Aegean coast all the way to the hidden corners of Anatolia.
Here are some of the best Turkish vineyards by region:
Turkey’s first regional wine route, the Trakya Bağ Rotası (Thrace Vineyard Route) covers a large area that stretches from the northwestern frontier city of Edirne all the way down to Gelibolu at the top end of the Dardanelles Strait.
One of Turkey’s first boutique vineyards, Gülor was founded by businesswoman and philanthropist Güler Sabancı in 1995 and is known for producing the country’s first commercial Bordeaux-style wines. With the assistance of Professor Nicolas Vivas from the University of Bordeaux, the vineyard’s successful vintages began with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and have since expanded with the Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Shiraz, Malbec and Petit Verdot grape varieties.
Chateau Nuzun was founded by Nazan and Necdet Uzun in 2004 with a conviction that good wines can only come from excellent grapes. The estate’s vineyards are grown using organic methods producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir.
A larger producer of wines that range from the Turkish Narince, Papaskarası and Kalecik Karası grapes to Riesling and Petit Verdot, Chamlija is one of the region’s more well-known names. Its bottles are always easily recognizable due to the original art on the labels, created by Irem Çamlıca, the daughter of the vineyard’s founder, Mustafa Çamlıca.
The Arcadia Vineyards, known for its low-intervention terroir wines, is also home to the Bakucha Vineyard Hotel where wining, dining and strolling among the vines and the orchards comprise a perfect stay for wine enthusiasts.
Aiming to reestablish Kırklareli as an important region for viticulture, Saranta bottled its first wines in 2011. One of the first Turkish vineyards to produce varietal wines from Ökügözü and Sémillon grapes and rosé from Cinsault grapes, the winery is set to open a modern hotel in 2023.
Prolific wine writer turned winemaker Şeyla Ergenekon and her husband Çağatay run Chateau Ergenekon, one of the smallest organic vineyards in Turkey, focusing on French grape varieties such as Syrah and Grenache. Just this year, the duo celebrated a gold medal win for their Bona Dea 2013 vintage at the Korea Wine Challenge 2022.
Umurbey is one of the more established Thracian vineyards, having been around since 1993. It’s one of Turkey’s first vineyards to produce wines from only its own grapes. There’s a distance of just 500 meters between vine and production facility.
The story of Barbare began in 2000, when Can Topsakal purchased land in Tekirdağ to begin his own vineyard after having studied in France. Alongside Xavier Vignon, a prominent oenologist and wine consultant for many chateau wineries in France, Topsakal has turned Barbare into an award-winning wine often matured in oak barrels.
Near the base of the Gallipoli peninsula, Chateau Kalpak was established by Bülent Kalpaklıoğlu in 1991 after having lived in America and France and leaving the world of investment banking. Years of experimentation and research ensured before the first wines were released in 2013. They’ve since garnered a prestigious three-star rating from the AWC Vienna, on par with Michelin stars in gastronomy.
Another heavy hitter in the Turkish viticulture world is the family-owned Suvla winery, located in Eceabat, by the Çanakkale Strait. With more than 500 medals to its name, Suvla’s organic vineyard produces elegant wines including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir grapes as well as the indigenous Kınalı Yapıncak and Karasakız.
An excellent location to taste wine and linger for a few days is Caeli Winery and its vineyard accommodation, Hotel Caeli. Under the guidance of the famed French wine consultant Michel Rolland, Caeli was founded in 2011 and concentrates on sustainable methods of wine production as well as innovation, including a specially designed cellar. Its hotel, more like a museum with 39 works of contemporary art, uses ingredients from the Caeli Farm and Ecological Garden in its gourmet restaurant.