The Wines of Turkey

The first evidence of viticulture and wine making in Anatolia (central Turkey) dates back 7,000 years. Today, Turkey is home to between 600–1200 indigenous grape varieties and with over 1,500,000 acres planted under vine, it is the world’s sixth largest producer of grapes.

Turkey Map

Reviving Turkey's Wine Heritage

Wiyana was the word for wine used by the ancient pre-Hittites who lived in Anatolia between 3,000 and 4,000 BCE. Yet, Turkey, through no fault of its terroir or native grapes, has gone unrecognized as a wine-producing nation for centuries. But the 21st century ushered in welcome changes for this historic homeland of wild vitis vinifera.


In 2001, the state abolished its monopoly on alcohol and the wine industry was privatized and regulated. Although Turkey's fledgling domestic market remains suppressed by punitive taxes, wine quality has soared drawing the attention of industry opinion leaders and wine enthusiasts from eager export markets around the world. As Turkey seeks a global market for its wines, wine importers such as Meritaj, will play an important role in the renaissance of Turkey's wine culture.

Today, Turkey is the top fourth producer of grapes for wine making, by area planted (812,000 hectares = 2 million acres) and the top six producer of grapes with 4.2 million metric tons.

Thrace Wine Route
The Thrace Wine Route

Wine Regions

Thrace and Marmara: they are located south of Bulgaria and southeast of Greece, bordering the Black Sea, Marmara Sea and the Aegean Sea. They enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate. The Thrace and Marmara wine regions produce about 13.6% of the wine in Turkey

Aegean region: it is located in the western part of Turkey facing the Aegean Sea and Greek Islands. The climate is Mediterranean near the coast and continental on the Anatolian Plateau. The Aegean wine region produces about 52.7% of the wine in Turkey.

Mediterranean region: it is located in the south part of Turkey facing the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean wine region produces only 0.2% of the wine in Turkey

Anatolia region: In Anatolia, the climate is continental with hot and arid summers and cold winters. Sub-regions are located in the South-East near Iraq and Syria, in the East, close to the Black Sea, in the North, near Ankara, and in Cappadocia, in the center of the country. Anatolia produces about 33.5% of the wine in Turkey.


Indigenous Varieties

There are over 4000 grape varietals native to Turkey, Öküzgözü being one of Turkey's oldest native grapes. It is native to Eastern Anatolia where evidence of grape domestication goes back to 8000 BC.

Öküzgözü (Pronunciation: Oh-cooz-goe-zue): Native to Eastern Anatolia, Öküzgözü derives its name from large dark berries that resemble a "bull's eye". The color is light ruby red similar to Pinot Noir. The palate is medium bodied with red fruit dominant delicate bouquet, medium tannins, high acidity. It is usually blended with Boğazkere.

Okuzgozu grape
Öküzgözü grape

Boğazkere (Pronunciation: Bow-aahz-keh-reh): the most tannic grape of Turkey, it literally translates to "Throat Scratcher". The color is dark ruby to purple. The palate is full-bodied, with high dense tannins, medium acidity, similar to Tannat, dark berries. It is usually blended with other grapes, mainly Öküzgözü

Kalecik Karası (Pronunciation: Kah-le-djic-car-ah-ser): Kalecik Karası means the "black from Kalecik". Kalecik is a small village (65 km northeast of Ankara) in Central Anatolia with its castle. The color is ruby red. The palate is medium bodied, with low tannins, lively acidity, cotton candy aroma, dominated by red fruits.

Emir (Pronunciation: Eh-mere): Emir is a native white grape of Cappadocia with most plantings in the Nevşehir province. It was used since the Roman times to make crisp, refreshing wines. It acquired its name (Emir = Ruler / Lord), from the fact that it was made into wine for the local rulers. The color is straw-yellow with a green hue. The palate is light to medium bodied with lively acidity dominated by green apple, citrus, and minerality. It is used in sparkling and still wine making. It is not aged in oak and does not go through malolactic fermentation.

Narince (Pronunciation: Nah-rin-djeh): Narince means “delicate” in Turkish. The color is straw-yellow with a green hue. The palate is round, medium to full-bodied, balanced with good acidity with citrus aromas. It produces dry and semi-dry wines. Usually aged in oak, Narince has a similar flavor profile to Chardonnay and gains a complex bouquet with aging.

Sultaniye (Pronunciation: Sool-tah-nee-yeh): The color is straw-yellow with a green hue. The palate is round, medium to full-bodied, balanced with good acidity with citrus aromas. While it is mostly consumed as table grapes and raisins, it can produce dry and semi-dry wines, light, fruity, fresh and easy to drink.

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