The wine sector’s dead end
It has been a long time since the pioneer of gastronomy writing in Turkey, Tuğrul Şavkay, Ph.D., the person who made the masses fall in love with the art of eating, departed from this world. Şavkay was at the same time one of the founders of the Kitchen Friends and Wine Friends Associations.
His friends in the Wine Friends Association (Şarap Dostları Derneği) organized a “Turkey’s Best Wines” competition under his name, the fourth of which was held this year. Prominent masters of wine from all around the world were invited to Turkey for this event.
International experts such as Christy Canterbury, Australia’s Clemency Yates and Alex Hunt agreed that Turkey can make a major leap in the wine sector with its own specific locally grown grapes such as Öküzgözü, Kalecik Karası, Boğazkere and Narince.
Hunt reminded us that the history of vine cultivation and wine making in Anatolia dates back 6,000 years, adding that the Turkish wine sector today was using the most modern technology.
As a matter of fact, primarily the leading names in the sector such as Kavaklıdere, Doluca, Pamukkale and Sevilen, as well as several other producers’ wineries, can compete with the ones in the West, and maybe because they are newer, are better equipped.
The new winery of Sevilen Wines, “Sevilen Magnesia,” in the Aegean province Aydın, which I had the opportunity to visit last June, was selected the winery of the year at the New York International Wine Competition.
The winery, covering an area of 25,000 square meters, cost $20 million to the Güner family, owners of the Sevilen brand.
A new player joins the nearly $250 million-$300 million wine sector every day. There are new investments made every day.
A female entrepreneur, Oluş Molu, who participated in the competition I mentioned above with the brand Vinolus, is a winemaker from the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri. It is one of Turkey’s grave dilemmas that a female entrepreneur produces wine in a conservative city like Kayseri.
Oluş Molu grows organic vines on her ancestral land and she is especially confident about her Chardonnay, the Syrah wines of her Vinolus brand.
While talking about Turkey’s dilemmas, the doyens of the sector I have spoken to are quite troubled by the alcohol bans of the government, the size of which increases every day.
The ban on alcoholic drinks on some routes of Turkish Airlines (THY) is only the latest in a series of an ongoing ban.
For example, the owner of Pamukkale Wines, Yasin Tokat, said there has been an alcohol ban at the social facilities of the University of Pamukkale for a long time and that he has lost an important client in Denizli.
“At the same time, the future of the wine sector in the world is quite bright. All international experts agree that Turkish wines are on the verge of a major leap. After Argentina and Australia, now it is our turn. We producers are certain that in a few years we will produce wines similar to Chateau Margaux.”
According to the latest figures, in Turkey about 115 companies of all sizes produce 72 million bottles of wine. It is estimated that 50 million bottles of this are used in the tourism sector.
While the level of wine consumption is obviously low among the Turkish population, it is only natural that the successive bans on alcohol engender pessimism among wine producers.
I don’t want to keep my readers in suspense about the results of the 4th Tuğrul Şavkay Competition. Among 84 types of red wines, 37 white wines and 13 rose wines, 2010 Barbare Elegance received the gold medal in the category of red wines, while the 2012 Sevilen İsabey Sauvignon, which was produced at the “Sevilen Magnesia” winery, was awarded with a gold medal in the category of white wines.