Wine of Turkey

Turkish wine is wine made in the transcontinental Eurasian country of Turkey. The Caucasus region, where the countries of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey are located today, played a pivotal role in the early history of wine and is likely to have been one of the earliest wine-producing regions of the world.

Ampelographers estimate that Turkey is home to between 600-1200 indigenous varieties of Vitis vinifera (the European grapevine), though less than 60 of these are grown commercially. With over 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) planted under vine, Turkey is the world’s fourth-leading producer of grapes. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's first president, established the country's first commercial winery in 1925. According to the OIV, the total wine production in 2005 was 287,000 hl. In the first half of 2009, wine consumption in Turkey reached 20,906,762 liters.

Climate and wine regions

The size and geography of Turkey accounts for the wide climatic variation of Turkey's wine regions. The wine regions of Thrace along the Sea of Marmara have slight Mediterranean climates that resembles those of neighboring southwest Bulgaria and northeast Greece. This area is responsible for nearly 40% of Turkey's wine production. The wine regions along the Aegean coast, mostly near Izmir, account for 20% of the country's wine production, and have much more pronounced Mediterranean climates with mild winters and warm, dry summers. The remaining portion of Turkey's wine production takes place in scattered pockets throughout the Eastern and Central Anatolia regions. The region of Central Anatolia is the most climatically difficult region to produce wine, with most vineyards being located at altitudes near 1,250 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level. Winter frost is a serious viticultural hazard, with winter temperatures often dropping to -25 °C (-13 °F). In the summer, grapes of this region can receive up to 12 hours of sunshine a day.

The vineyards of Eastern Anatolia around Elazig, Malatya and Diyarbakir are located in the Euphrates valley which is one of the world's oldest wine regions and the anecdotal location of Noah’s vineyards from the 9th chapter of Genesis.

Grapes and wine

With between 600 to 1200 indigenous grape varieties, there are numerous options that Turkish winemakers can pursue to make wine. Currently only 60 varieties are commercially cultivated.

Some of the native Turkish varieties include the Yapincak and Papazkarasi grown in Thrace; the Sultaniye of the Aegean coast; the Öküzgözü and Bogazkere (used to make Buzbag) of Eastern Anatolia; the Çalkarasi of the Denizli Province in Western Anatolia, and the Kalecik Karasi, Narince and Emir of Central Anatolia. In recent years, some of the international grape varieties have increased their presence, including Sémillon (known as Trakya), Riesling, Muscat, Gamay, Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
 

Grape varieties of Turkey

Region

White grapes

Red grapes

Marmara (Thracian) Region

Sauvignon Blanc
Clairette
Chardonnay
Riesling
Sauvignon Gris
Pinot Gris
Sémillon
Beylerce
Yapıncak
Vasilaki

Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Cabernet Franc
Pinot Noir
Adakarasi
Papazkarasi
Sémillon
Kuntra
Gamay
Karalahna
Cinsault

Aegean Region

Sémillon
Bornova Misketi

Carignan
Çal Karasi
Merlot
Cabernet Sauvignon
Alicante Bouschet
Shiraz
Kalecik Karasi
Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay

Black Sea Region

Narince

Öküzgözü
Boğazkere

Central Anatolia Region

Emir
Hasandede

Kalecik Karası
Papazkarası
Dimrit

Mediterranean Region

Kabarcık
Dökülgen

Sergi Karası
Burdur Dimriti

Eastern Anatolia Region

Narince
Kabarcık

Öküzgözü
Boğazkere

Southeastern Anatolia Region

Dökülgen
Kabarcık
Rumi

Horoz Karası
Öküzgözü
Boğazkere
Sergi Karası

 

Wineries

As of 2008, the largest winery of Turkey is operated by Tekel, which started as a state-owned monopoly. TTA/TEKEL alcoholic beverages section privatized by a block sale of 100% of shares for USD 292 million to Nurol-Özaltin-Limak-Tütsab Consortium and the Share Purchase Agreement signed on February 27, 2004. Other notable wineries include Sarafin on the Gallipoli peninsula in Thrace, which was Turkey's first privately-owned ‘boutique winery’, Doluca of Thrace and Kavaklidere of Anatolia. Also Pamukkale Winery made wines.

Buzbagis a full flavored red wine made from Bogazkere grapes grown in the Anatolia region of Turkey. The wine is a red wine with high tannic levels. It is sometimes produced in a wine fashion with the grapes allowed to hang on the vine till the first frost and then crushed while the grapes are still frozen. Historically, the area where Buzbag is produced is considered a possible birthplace of wine.

The biblical accounts of Noah after the flood has him planting a vineyard near the area where the ark landed. This area is presumed to be Mt. Ararat where Buzbag is still being produced today by the state run vineyards of Tekel near the town of Elazig by the Euphrates river.