A rocky island where the Marmara Sea empties to the Agean Sea. Here winds never stop blowing and your safe haven is the picturesque coves hidden along the coastline. Locals say they feel like on a sailboat as the island doesn't stay still of the wine. These cooling breezes made the otherwise arid, sunburnt island a perfect place for viticulture. Today one-third of the island is covered with vineyards and one of Turkey's most award-winning wineries comes from here.
Bozcaada has been a centre of viticulture for the last 5000 years. The first winemakers on the island were Mesopotamians, then Greeks and now Turks. The old name of Bozcaada is Tenedos, it's mentioned in Homer's Illiad, and that's where the Greek ships were hiding during the Troyan war (by the way, the ruins of Troy are just a short ferry boat ride away on the mainland). Another memorable part of the island's history is the Gallipolli Campaign (the Battle of Canakkale) that took place on Gallipolli (Canakkale) peninsula. In Gelibolu town you can visit the country's most important historical landmarks and monuments dedicated to their victory in the Battle of Canakkale. After 1923 when Bozcaada island became part of the Republic of Turkey the Greek population started to leave. Together with them left the history, culture and expertise in winemaking. Today, after almost a hundred years, we see the island reviving. Some brave men (as it always requires bravery to be a winemaker in Turkey) who moved to the island are bringing it back to its' viticultural roots.
Native Turkish grape varieties on Bozcaada island
Although Turkey as a place where viticulture was present for many thousand years has plenty of native varieties, it's still a rarity to find Turkish wineries that are loyal to their grapes. The Turkish legislation is, to say the least, unfavourable to viticulture. Locally produced wines are heavily taxed, there is a lack of research, nurseries and conservation centres for local grapevines, the country doesn't promote itself as a 'land of wine'.
Many new wineries decide to kickstart with international varieties - ever-popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
It's hard to blame them for doing so, as with these varieties it's easier to participate in numerous international wine awards, showcase their technique and skills and win a couple of medals to facilitate exports. As we all know, winemaking is a costly venture that requires full-time cash flow. On the other hand, Bozcaada is your place if you're after wines made of Turkish native grapes. Even though local wineries include lots of internationals in their blends, they keep producing and thus protecting from extinction their own grape varieties.
White grapevines of Bozcaada
Çavuş (chavush) - a Turkish table grape that became tightly associated with Bozcaada island. All we know about its' origins is a legend, according to which a Turkish sergeant ('sergeant' in Turkish is 'çavuş') brought it to the sultan from somewhere around Mecca.
What we know for sure is that the famous Resit Soley