Thrace Wine Route (Trakya Bağ Rotası)
Updated: May 7, 2022
The Closest Wine Route to Istanbul - Just a 1.5 Hour Drive!
Thrace is an ancient region. It is also a region defined by topography and the sea. 3 seas in fact - the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Sea of Marmara. They all come together around Thrace and work to separate Thrace which is in Europe from Asia Minor and the mainland of Asia.
So you can think of Thrace as Turkey's European wine route - especially considering the varieties (typically French Bordeaux types) that are grown here. These types Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabarnet Franc, Cabernet Blanc and Chardonnay all develop well here as the climate has similarities to Bordeaux. But there are also numerous local varieties of grapes and wines produced here.
Most of the producers here have had excellent investment and thus very nice facilities, hotels, restaurants etc. The wealth of Istanbul has certainly influenced this region.
The seas seem to appear at every glimpse and provide the cooling breezes for the summer heat. This is one of the milder vineyard regions of Turkey but they and the grapes benefit from the daily variety of temperature in the summer. Winters are mild and see some snow, but aren't extreme.
The Thrace Wine Route is shaped like Y with the top right point being Istanbul, the top left being Edirne (the gateway city to Europe) and the bottom point is Canakkale along the straits and at the end of a long peninsula.
Transportation has been made much simpler by a huge spanning bridge built across the straits connecting Europe to Asia. Though taking a ferry boat across is much more pleasant allowing you to enjoy the breezes that help this region grow some of the best red wine grapes in Turkey.
The region could actually be seen as 6 different areas as wineries tend to be clustered around these towns: Tekirdag (the closest to Istanbul and along the Sea of Marmara, Luleburgaz with arguably 2 of the best wine producers in Turkey, Kirklareli at the edge of the Strandja Massif - which is essentially the end of the European plateau, Edirne - the western most city in Turkey, Sarkoy the traditional center to this wine region along the northernmost edge of the Gallipoli straits, and finally Canakkale, with wineries scattered along the narrow tip of the peninsula. There is another wine region - just across the Aegean - the Wine Island of Bozcaada.
This region is best handled over 4 to 5 days. There are excellent winery hotels serving you during this time. While you can visit 3 or 4 wineries in a long day trip from Istanbul, this region is worth much more time to sit and enjoy the wines, restaurants and views.
The closest wineries in the Thrace Wine Route are in Tekirdağ- a mere 1 or so west of Istanbul. This area is the most north easterly of the four regions of the Thrace Wine Route. The wineries which make up the Tekirdağ region are: Şato Nuzun (Chateau Nuzun), Barel Bağları (Barel Vineyards), Umurbey Bağları (Umurbey Vineyards), and Barbare Bağları (Barbare Vineyards). Nuzun is notable for well oaked and aged red wines. Barel has a hip restaurant in the valley inside the vineyard. Umurbey is a long time producer with a restaurant in the city center of Tekirdağ. And Barbare is a notably large place with hotel, restaurant, excellent red wines and an expansive view of the sea of Marmara.
There are 3 wineries in the Kirklareli region (the most Northwesterly area) of the Thrace Wine Route: Nearest to Istanbul is Chamlija Bağları, Arcadia Bağları, and Vino Dessera. But there are other
notable wineries not officially in the Thrace wine route including Gürbüz Winery, Saranta Vineyards, Edrine Vineyards, and Arda Şarap. Chamlıja is one of the premier producers
of Turkey. Gürbüz has one of the best winemakers in Turkey. Arcadia and Vino Dessera both have delightful wines alongside notable restaurants and vineyard lodges.
The Şarköy region (most central) of the Thrace Wine Route is the center of red wine production and has 3 official and a number of other wineries nearby. Officially Melen Winery, Gülor Winery and Chateau Kalpak are the main wineries. Notable other wineries in the area are Uçmakdere, Gali Vineyards, and Yükseltan Vineyards. From the wild views and now vacated military pill boxes at Gali to the wild forest valley around Uçmakdere this is dramatic landscape. All the wineries here have notably good wines with most having access to some of the oldest vineyards in Turkey.
The final and most southerly section of the Thrace wine route is the Gallipoli peninsula with 2 official and a few other nearby wineries. Gali Vineyards is located halfway between Şarköy and Gallipoli region. But as you near the southwestern tip of the Galipoli peninsula between the Dardanelles Straights and the Aegean Sea you have
perhaps the finest vineyard hotel in Turkey at Caeli. And then there is the wine corner with literally 3 wineries touching each other in the little town of Eceabat. Suvla Vineyards & Winery, Asmadan Vineyard (with another outstanding hotel - Bengodi and a sharp Wine/Archeaology Museum) and Etruscan Winery make up this vibrant wine location.
Here's a lovely video that introduces you to the Thrace Wine Route. It introduces each of the vineyards in the region- which I also review in my Turkish wineries section of my blog.