Turkish Wines & Vineyards

Good wine has been produced in Turkey for millennia, and still is. You can see how it’s made on wine and vineyard tours.

Several of Anatolia’s climatic regions, inluding the Marmaraand Aegean, the East around Elazığ, and the Southeastnear Diyarbakır, some with volcanic soil (such as Cappadocia), are suitable for producing wine grapes.

In the past, the grapes have mostly been local traditional varieties such as Öküzgözü (Ox-eye) from Elazığ and Boğazkere from Diyarbakır, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Alicante are now being used for premium wines as well.

The standards were set for Turkish wines in the mid-1900s by the Kavaklıdere and Doluca (DOHL-oo-jah) vineyards. Simple table wines such as Kavak and the better Çankaya(white), Dikmen and the better Yakut (red), Lâl(rosé/blush) and Villa Doluca (white and red) are drinkable and not the most expensive.

West of Tekirdağ (which is west of Istanbul in Thrace; map), are numerous vineyards such as Barbare taking advantage of the moderate climate, sandy soil, and abundant sunshine.

In Cappadocia, the Kocabağ (KOH-jah-bah) and Turasan(TOO-rah-sahn) labels are two to try. I prefer the Kocabağ, especially their Öküzgözü and Cabernet Sauvignon reds. More…

Tatlısert, by the way, is a fortified red similar to port.

In the 1990s, after changes in the laws governing alcoholic beverages, small local vintners began to make varietal wines of good quality. The best wines are often from the well-run vineyards of wealthy industrial and commercial families.

Discerning (and wealthy) Turkish wine-drinkers are only a small market, and the conservative government has levied high taxes on alcoholic beverages, so sipping wine with dinner is surprisingly expensiveMore…

At dinner in a famous Istanbul restaurant, main course plates were priced around TL24, but the cheapest bottle of wine was TL60, with others as high as TL125.

Though table wines such as the red Kavaklidere Dikmenand basic Doluca labels sell for TL15 to TL20 in shops, and mid-priced Villa Doluca and Kavaklıdere’s Çankaya white for TL18 to TL22, Barbare Vineyard‘s premium wines and other upscale wines such as Kavaklidere’s red Yakut and Egeo wines, and Angora, Ancyra and Vinartappellation/vintage years can cost TL30 or more in a shop, and 2-1/2 to 3 times as much in a restaurant.

Prices for imported wines can be even higher, although Chilean vintages sometimes compete with Turkish ones on price. The inexpensive wine you’re used to drinking at home may be a premium-priced wine in Turkey.

High taxes also play their part in the high price of wine. The tax just about doubles the cost of a bottle of inexpensive table wine. In part because of the high taxes, I’m told there is a large illegal, untaxed and uncontrolled wine industry that competes unfairly with the legitimate vintners and may put the health of the wine-drinking public in danger. More…

Although the governing Islamist AKP party denies that it acts against those who drink alcoholic beverages, the cost of enjoying a glass of wine—or indeed any alcoholic beverage—has risen dramatically during their tenure in office.

During the holy month of Ramazan, alcoholic beverages are less in evidence, following traditional custom. More…

—by Tom Brosnahan

Wine & Vineyard Tours & Tastings

Turkish Beers

Turkish Rakı

How to Drink Rakı

Alcoholic Beverages in Turkey

Turkish Food & Drink

Istanbul Restaurants

Food Allergies in Turkey

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