Türkiye has long been considered the homeland of viticulture and the earliest grape culture in the world. Archaeological evidence shows that the domestication of grape seeds and viticulture began in south-eastern Anatolia between 5000 and 8500 BC. With up to 1,000 grape varieties, Türkiye ranks fourth in the world among countries producing grapes for viticulture production. A journey through Türkiye will dazzle you with up to 1,200 indigenous grape varieties, of which 60 are commercially produced. The temperate climatic conditions, the diverse ecosystems, and the country’s unique location between continents put Türkiye at the heart of the “Grand Terrain.”
The best time to tour one of Türkiye’s exceptional viticulture routes is between April ‘Bud Breaking’ and October ‘Harvest Time’. Some even offer their guests the chance to help with the grape harvest.
Bozcaada’s 3000-Year-Old Viticulture Heritage
Bozcaada, a stunning island in the Aegean Sea, is a national treasure. Home to a 3,000-year-old heritage of viticulture and bore the name Tenedos in ancient times. With its warm climate and northern winds, it is the perfect place for viticulture to thrive.
Kunta and Karalahna grapes are used for red produce, Çavuş and Vasilaki grapes for white produce. Visitors will love the taste of these local fermented favourites and enjoy the history, scenery and local cuisine while exploring the picturesque Bozcaada Route.
Bozcaada is the third largest Turkish island and is home to six viticulture sites, so there is a lot of variety to explore and savour. Bozcaada also hosts a four-day harvest festival that is organised every September. With live music, lovely market stalls selling handmade gifts and souvenirs, art exhibitions, panels, and theatre performances, the festival is an all-in-one experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Urla’s International Influence
Urla lies between Çeşme and İzmir on a peninsula of moist, rich soil surrounded by the sparkling blue Aegean Sea. With a 6,000-year-old history of viticulture, Urla is now merited with the growth of international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola and local grapes such as Bornova Misketi (Muscat), Sultaniye and Boğazkere.
Stepping back in history, the ancient Urla Karası, once thought to be a lost grape variety in the region, has been resurrected in local areas. Other old and extinct grapes indigenous to these places, such as Foça Karası and Gaydura, were reproduced and saved from extinction.
Urla is home to some of the most stunning grape-growing landscapes in Türkiye. Visitors to the Urla Viticulture Route can enjoy delicious and award-winning produce at chateau-style establishments, stay in boutique accommodations, visit gourmet restaurants, and explore the beautiful green countryside.
One can even enjoy if timed perfectly, the annual Urla Grape Harvest Festival has been celebrated for 27 consecutive years. Among the festival’s highlights, grape treading gets a lot of attention and is tremendous fun! This time-honoured maceration method sees young women stomp on the grapes with their bare feet to release the grapes’ juices and start fermentation.
Wonderful compliments to the product in this region include the wonderous variety of the peppery and spicy Kopanisti, the creamy and ripened Bergama Tulumu, and the yörük culture of Armola cheese.
Celebrate with the God of Viticulture
In between routes and stops, there is of course the chance to view Dionysus’ Temple, an important landmark of mythology, located in the ancient city of Teos in İzmir, commonly known as the God of Inspiration, but he was also the God of Viticulture too.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are a connoisseur, an amateur enthusiast, or simply want to immerse yourself in the wonderment of viticulture production and of course tasting, the splendid variety across all these regions offers an intimate experience of appreciation from the grape to the glass.