Turkish wine is not well known worldwide, however it had a key role to play in wine growing’s early history, and was probably one of the earliest regions known to have been producing wine anywhere in the world. It has been estimated that Turkey calls itself home to around 600 to 1200 indigenous vitis vinifera varieties, although under 60 are commercially grown. As Turkey has dedicated more than 1,500,000 acres to vineyards, it is also the 4th biggest grape producer around the globe. The country’s first ever commercial winery was not established until the 1920s when the first president of Turkey set it up. Today, around 300,000 hl of wine is produced in total in Turkey.
As well as the native varieties of grape, many international varieties have also been introduced in recent years including Riesling, Muscat, Merlot, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Turkey has vineyards in many different regions. The European climate and soils to the west of Istanbul the wines produced are similar to those produced in south Bulgaria and Greece, however around the Izmir area of the Aegean coast, some high quality whites are produced, many being sweet and classical. Anatolia in the central eastern region has extremely cold winters and dry summers, and here are grown some extremely ancient grape varieties.
As yet, there has not been a lot of investment in modern wine producing techniques and methods in Turkey, although Kavaklidere has embraced high quality production thanks to considerable investment in vineyards. Small producers are also starting to produce some interesting wines, and while their products are quite expensive, the quality is very good, despite the fact that they are not well known on an international market.