Cappadocia, Turkey is well known for out-of-this world geological rock formations, cave churches used by the early Christians, and luxurious cave hotels. This is what originally enticed me to include Cappadocia on my recent trip to Turkey – but further research lead me to a number of vineyards in the region that apparently have increasingly palatable wines, especially the white wines. I was traveling with Intrepid Travel in the western half of Turkey, and when their local staff got wind of my plans for Cappadocia and my affinity for fermented beverages, they tipped me off about their Cappadocia Wine and Sunset Tour, operated by Urban Adventures. I try to visit breweries, vineyards and distilleries when I travel, so I was not going to pass up this opportunity.
My guide met me at my hotel in Göreme on my first night in Cappadocia. I was tired and cranky from a long day of travel from Istanbul, and pretty stoked to get my first glimpse of the Cappadocian valleys and my first taste of Cappadocian wines. As soon as we began our descent into the Rose Valley, we stumbled grapes growing in the rich valley. Fertilized primarily by pigeons, the vineyards scattered their delicious bounty throughout the region.
Urban Adventure’s Wine and Sunset Tour is operated on a small group basis for $65 USD per person (note: I received a discounted rate as a guest of Urban Adventures). On the hot August evening I took the trip, I was the only person booked – a sad reminder of Turkey’s decrease in tourism this year as a result of the border issues with Syria and Iraq. Tourism, the livelihood of many in Cappadocia, is down 30% this summer. It was exciting to have a private tour through the Rose Valley, but our late afternoon pick up time meant that we hurried through the valley in order to meet our driver for the vineyard visit before sunset.
We stopped at Turasan Şarapları where I had my first taste of the indigenous wine, Emir – a grape with a straw yellow colour and a high mineral profile on the palate. Emir was the first of 6 wines I sampled at the vineyard, and quite acidic. In the dusty summer heat, it was a refreshing treat, but it was not a wine that would work well if it were barrel aged. I also sampled Öküzgözü Boğazkere, a red wine blend of two Turkish grapes from the Anatolia, with the grapes originating near the biblical rivers Euphrates and Tigris. This was more of the flavour palate I was craving – a rich, bold red wine with spicy notes like a Pinot Noir, and a solid match to the spicy kebaps I was ingesting. A bottle of the Öküzgözü Boğazkere followed me home, and is waiting patiently on my wine rack for a rainy day.
Sadly, we did not have the opportunity to tour Turasan,
although they do welcome visitors to their facilities with open arms. We arrived at a look out over the valley in the nick of time catch the last rays of the day disappearing behind the rocks. Lacking a cork-screw to open my new purchases, I quench my thirst from the hike with fresh squeeze orange juice instead.
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