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.
Heading first northeast out of the capital, stop at the Kavaklıdere vineyards in Akyurt and Kalecik. Here you will also find Vinkara, producers of Turkey’s first sparkler, Yaşasın. It is made from this region’s very own black grape, Kalecik Karası – more commonly used for reds – and it is a storming success.
Rather than wine, the surreal volcanic landscape will probably be the first thing on your mind when you arrive in Cappadocia, but don’t neglect Üçhısar locals Kocabağ. Their wine has a strong local character – thanks no doubt to the time it spends maturing in vats made of the soft volcanic stone that makes the area unique. Not necessarily one to pick off a list at dinner elsewhere, but great when you are in the area. The Emir grape is indigenous to Cappadocia and is used to make Kavaklıdere’s eminently drinkable fizz, Altın Köpük.
The other key Anatolian wine grapes are Öküzgözü (bull’s eye) and Boğazkere, both of which produce dry red wine typical of eastern Anatolian wine, mostly grown around Elazığ but also found elsewhere. If you don’t mind following the Kavaklidere trail a little further, they have another vineyard in Kırşehir, exactly en route from Ankara to Cappadocia, which grows both varieties. Ask the staff at Akyurt or Kalecik to warn them you are coming.
Ankara airport is served by a variety of international and domestic carriers and has car-hire options for every budget. You can also fly to Nevşehir in Cappadocia.
It is generally advisable to call ahead and let the vineyards know you are coming. Tell them Cornucopia sent you.