Turkish wine is causing something of a stir internationally, as indigenous grape varieties find world-class expression in the hands of a new generation of vintners. The Cornucopia wine-tasting team were so impressed by a recent tasting in Istanbul showcasing a remarkable consistency of quality coupled with a lively variety of personality that we have compiled a travel guide to the key wine regions of Turkey. Setting out from any of Turkey’s three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – you will find a number of excellent vineyards, never too far away from the country’s natural and historical wonders. İyi yolculuklar, and, more to the point, şerefe!
The very sunny, quite humid and often breezy climate of northwest Turkey is ideal for wine-making. On this self-drive tour you could easily spend a week circling the Sea of Marmara, visiting one or two boutique vineyards each day. They lie on the plain off the road to Edirne, along the hilly shore of the Sea of Marmara, on the Gallipoli peninsula and also on the islands of Avşa Adası and Bozcaada, which is technically in the Aegean, but best reached from the Troad, south of the Dardenelles.
Just over half of all Turkish wine comes from the Aegean region. Within reach of Izmir, the region’s capital, there are plenty of producers, large and small. On a self-drive wine tour you can take in major archaeological sites such as Ephesus and Aphrodisias, top attractions like the Pamukkale hot springs, pretty Aegean villages and of course some world-class wines. Allow a few days, but at a relaxed pace the trip could easily fill more.
An incredible diversity of microclimates and soils means an exciting variety of wine is produced in central and eastern Turkey. This is where indigenous grape varieties are most abundantly used. You would be hard pressed to visit all the region’s vineyards in one trip, unlike the coastal regions, but a drive from Ankara to Cappadocia takes in some of the best.