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Bozcaada is a tiny Aegean island off the coast of Turkey. It used to belong to Greece and was known as Tenedos. Tenedos is reputed to be the hiding place for the Greek ships in the famous battle for Troy, which happened on the Turkish mainland about five kilometers away.
Bozcaada has always been covered in grapevines. The Greeks understood the magical alchemy for grape growing and tended the vines on the island to make copious amounts of wine that fueled their wild parties dedicated to Dionysus. The island sits in front of the point where the Sea of Marmara empties into the Aegean Sea. It is always windy on the island, and these crosswinds between the two seas seem to magically tend the vines and offer the most pleasant wine tourism experience. The locals love Bozcaada because they say it feels like a big sailboat in the middle of the sea and it never stays still.
Some of our favorite memories in Turkey are made while riding scooters around the island, from winery to winery, and then beach to beach. The pleasant Mediterranean climate flatters the inconspicuous beaches and crystal-clear seawater. The center of the island is lined with rows and rows of vineyards covering the gently rolling hills. The overall atmosphere in Bozcaada is ethereal, and exploring Bozcaada feels like falling into a dream. In 2012, Katie Parla of The New York Times wrote an article entitled On a Turkish Isle, Winds Tend the Vines which paints a magnificent picture of this place.
Generally, the viticultural focus here is on international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel, but local varieties like Kuntra (Karakız) and Karalahna for red wine and Çavuş and Vasilaki for white wine can still be found. All of the above can be included in blends or made into varietal wines.
Exotic Wine Travel’s Choice – A Turkish White Wine:
Corvus Zeleia Vasilaki 2013
(pronounce va-see-la-ka) This variety is native to the island of Bozcaada and is not found anywhere else in Turkey outside of Bozcaada. However, since Bozcaada was once a Greek island, this variety also grows on other Greek islands today. It is a thin-skinned grape that tends to produce crisp white wine with notes of white and yellow flowers and fresh green herbs.
Trendsetter: Burcak Desombre, Turkish Wine Maestro
Trendsetter: Oliver Gareis From Amadeus Winery, Turkey
We also wrote an expanded version of this article about traveling in Bozcaada for Wine Tourist Magazine.
For a listing of articles and videos on Turkish wine and other wines from the Caucasus region, check out our page Uncorking the Caucasus. To purchase the Kindle or paperback copy of the book Uncorking the Caucasus: Wines from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia, please head to this Amazon product page.
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this article are personal opinions and are not associated with any sponsors or business promotions.