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Turkish Wines & Wine Culture and History. An Exploration from Istanbul  to Hattusas, Cappadocia to Southern Turkey

From Ottoman to Byzantine monuments, to the Hittite Kingdom Hattusas, a cultural exploration of wines, history and wine tasting for 7 nights 6 days.  This specialty tour begins in timeless Istanbul, then a visit to the capital city of Turkey; Ankara. The journey continues, while discovering more of the fine Turkish wine culture, over to the land of fairy chimneys in Cappadocia.  The finale completes with a ultimately relaxing one week private gulet cruise in the turquoise waters of Southern Turkey.

Duration: By Land → 7 Nights 6 Days + By Sea → 1 Week

You and your group will enjoy Byzantine and Ottoman days with culinary specialties of these two great civilizations in Istanbul. Later your tour will follow with wine tasting and courses of Turkish Wines both in Istanbul and in Cappadocia while experiencing Turkish music – both classical and folkloric. During this time you will visit historical places and follow a very detailed schedule in terms of must-see cultural visits, which will be combined with all these activities.

Menus are prepared according to gourmet and local recipes in all restaurants that will be visited.

All wines are chosen, will be among the local ones with the local wine grapes that have been cultivated on these lands for thousands of years. You will taste wines, in Istanbul, made with grapes since the Byzantine times as well as those described by Homer in Iliad.

More than 35 different, specially selected, wines will be tasted during this tour.  At the end of this tour, a new tour will begin with a one week private gulet cruise on board a classic Turkish gulet of your choice.

Day 1

You will be welcomed at airport and transferred to your hotel and check-in. Afterwards there will be some leisure time on your own and in the evening, meeting with a Wine Expert for a short introduction and talk about the details over dinner.

DAY 2 : Byzantine Day in Istanbul

Day starts with the discovery of Byzantine monuments of Istanbul. The Church of Pammacharistos ( Fethiye Camii), The Acquaducts of Valens, Saint Sophia and The Underground Cistern are among the Byzantine sites that you will discover. Lunch will take place in a local restaurant located in the historical region of Istanbul.

The menu will be based on Byzantine recipes like; Tarhana (Traganos) soup, lamb cooked with spices as main and Tavuk Gogsu (breast of chicken dessert).

Wines at lunch will be those made with the grapes also known in Byzantine age. Buyulubag Adakarasi (Dry red wine with Adakarasi grape) Kavaklidere Muscat (Dry white wine with moskhatos/misket grape) The Byzantine exploration of the city will continue with the Church of Saint in the afternoon. Saviour in Chora which is also considered as one of the jewels of Byzantine art and architecture of the late period. Then you will proceed to the fortification walls of Constantinople built in the 5th century by Theodosius II.

In an old Byzantine cistern, dinner will take place and will be composed of Byzantine specialties. Wines at dinner are those produced with the Byzantine grapes still cultivated today like Moskhatos (misket) and Papazkarasi. Kavaklidere Sauvignon Blanc- Sultaniye (Dry white wine with blend of French and Turkish grapes) Cankara Misket-Sultaniye (Dry white wine with Misket and Sultaniye grapes) Melen Papazkarasi (Dry red wine with papazkarasi grape). The day will end with an overnight stay in your hotel in Istanbul.

Day 3 : Ottoman Day

A full day is reserved to see the Ottoman monuments of Istanbul. You will be going to discover the buildings of the classical period, not only bazaars but also the mosques. This tour will begin with the Blue Mosque and The Topkapi Palace where Ottoman sultans resided almost 400 years. You will have lunch in a local restaurant with a typical Ottoman menu after visiting the Mosque of Sulemaniye.

Wines at Lunch

  • Karasalkim Papazkarasi ( Dry red wine with Papaskarasi grape)
  • Çankara Misket (Dry white wine)
  • Doluca Moskado (Semi dry white wine with Misket grape)

In the afternoon you will take a stroll in the Eminonu area. There you will see the Rustem pasa Mosque, taste Turkish Coffee in a typical shop located at the position of the first coffee-shop established in Istanbul. Then it’s off to taste Turkish Pastirma at Namli, followed by a visit to the Egyptian Bazaar and a walk in the streets of Tahtakale – the center of the business activity both in old and present times.

Dinner will be served in a restaurant known for the traditional dishes. During dinner you will be listening to Turkish classical music which takes its roots from Byzantine times and continued to be the court music during the Ottoman Empire. At dinner you will taste wines from Tenedos Island on North Aegean – mentioned also by Homeros in Illiad on Troy.

Wines at Dinner

  • Corvus Tenea (Dry white wine produced with Vasilaki grape)
  • Corvus Aegea (Dry red wine produced with Kuntra grape )
  • Corvus Vinium (Dry red wine produced with Karalahna grape)

Your day will end with an overnight stay in your hotel in Istanbul.

Day 4 : Istanbul – Ankara – Corum (pronounced ‘Chorum’)

From Istanbul, the day will be begin with an early morning flight to Ankara. Upon arrival at Esenboga Airport you will go for a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations in Ankara. This is where the best introduction to the history of wine in Turkey can be made – a history which goes back to the Early Bronze age, 5000 years ago. Then you will be driven to Kalecik town where you will find the local famous grape called, Kalecik Karasi.

Wines at Lunch

  • Kavaklidere Ancyra (Dry red wine produced with Kalecik Karasi local grape)
  • Kavaklidere Kalecik Karasi (Dry red wine produced with Kalecik Karasi local grape)
  • Chateau Kalecik Kalecik Karasi (Dry red wine produced with Kalecik Karasi local grape)
  • Pass Kalecik town and proceed to Corum following the bed of Kizilirmak (Red River)

Wines at Dinner

  • Kavaklidere Narince (Dry white wine produced with the local grape called Narince)
  • Doluca Kav Narince (Dry white wine produced with the local grape called Narince)
  • Diren Karmen (Dry red wine with Okuzgozu-Bogazkere grapes)

There will be an overnight stay in a hotel in either Corum or Sungurlu.

Day 5 : Hattusas – Cappadocia

In the morning you will depart for a visit to Hattusas, the capital of Hittite Kingdom which ruled in Anatolia between 1650 and 1200 B.C. You will see the fortification walls, the gates, the temples and then continue to Yazilikaya. An amazing place, Yazilikaya is the oldest open air temple in the world where you will see the reliefs of the Hittite gods. Lunch will take place near the ruins of Hattusas. Afterwards, it’s time to depart in the direction of Cappadocia, passing through Yozgat and Bogazliyan. Upon arrival you will experience your first wine tasting in Cappadocia on a terrace in a vineyard in the Uchisar area with the local whites and roses. After a great day of wine tasting and ruins, your overnight stay will be in a Cave hotel in Cappadocia.

Day 6 : Wine Routes of Cappadocia

In the morning you will start your day with a pleasant walk around in Pancarlik Valley. This is where you will discover the natural colors of Cappadocia. Then it’s a visit to the not-so-well-known, yet beautiful church of Pancarlik.

While in Urgup you will be visiting the cellar of the Turasan winery and taste wines of Turasan – a leading wine company in Cappadocia which was established in 1943. Then the tour proceeds to Goreme Valley to visit the most beautiful rock carved churches in the region. It is also a Unesco World Heritage site today. Lunch will either be in the vineyard or in a local restaurant.

Wines at Lunch

  • Turasan Cappadocia (dry white wine) Turasan Emir (dry white wine)
  • Turasan Okuzgozu (dry red wine)

After lunch it is time to drive to the impressive underground city of Derinkuyu. It is the largest underground city in Cappadocia carved 12 levels down, at a depth of 75 meters. Later in the afternoon, will be a visit to the village of Sinasos which presents poetry on the stones with beautifully decorated facades of its 19th century houses. A visit to the beautiful churches of Sinasos; Church of Constantine and Helena, and Church of St. Basil. You will also stroll in the streets of the village. There you will see very beautiful examples of stone carving on the houses. Your tour for the day will end with tasting of sparkling wines of Cappadocia produced with Emir grapes.

Wines to taste during a Cappadocian Sunset

  • Kavaklidere Lal (Rose wine produced with calkarasi grape)

Wines at Dinner

  • Turasan Emir-Narince (Dry white wine produced with the blend of two grape varieties)
  • Turasan Bogazkere (Dry red wine produced with Bogazkere grape of Eastern Turkey)
  • Turasan Seneler (Dry red wine produced by blending Okuzgozu and Bogazkere grape varieties of eastern Turkey)

The day will end with a return and overnight in your Cave hotel in Cappadocia.

Day 7 : Wine Routes of Cappadocia

You will depart in the morning to go and discover, ‘Kizilcukur’ (red valley) which is a beautiful valley with its vinyards and rock churches, especially ‘the church with grapes’. Kizilcukur is a nearly 6 km long valley which extends from the Ortahisar area to the Cavusin abandoned village. It takes its name from the color of its rocks. On your way to Cavusin you will be walking through the small vineyards of Cappadocia where local grapes like Dimrit, Kara uzum, Razaki are grown. Almost in the middle of the valley you can also visit one of the most beautiful but lesser known rock churches of Cappadocia; ‘The church with columns’. You walk will end in Cavusin village where you will deserve a short stop. Options for lunch can be on the vinyard or in a local restaurant depending, on the weather conditions.

The menu is typical Cappadocian cuisine, based on aubergines cooked in claypots and cracked wheat. The wines to be tasted at lunch are red and white table wines of Cappadocia.

Wines at Lunch

  • Kocabag Emir (Dry white wine produced with Emir grape)
  • Kocabag Kapadokya (Dry red wine produced with local grapes)
  • We then continue to the North-west along the valley of Kizilirmak (red river) which is the longest river in Turkey, to the region of Gulsehir where we visit the old rock monastery of Aciksaray and the beautiful rock church of St. John the Baptist.

Your tour will extend to visits to the villages; Yesilyurt, Yuksekli and Karaburna where you will see vineyards and wine production centers. Then finish our day in Uchisar with the last wine tasting session of the day with top quality wines produced by Kocabag and Kavaklidere companies. There will be a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Wines at Last Tasting

  • Kavaklidere Emir-Sultaniye (Dry white wine produced with two mentioned grape varieties)
  • Kavaklidere Altin Kopuk (sparkling wine produced with emir grape)

Wines at Dinner

  • Kocabag Okuzgozu (Dry red wine produced with Okuzgozu grape)
  • Kocabag Bogazkere (Dry red wine produced with Bogazkere grape)
  • Kavaklidere Selection (Dry red wine produced by blending Okuzgozu and Bogazkere grapes)

Cappadocia being known as the oldest center in Turkey for the carpet making and pottery, a lecture on carpet weaving for ½ hr and demonstration of pottery making for 20 min. will be part of your activities and shopping on request.

There will be an overnight in your Cappadocia hotel.

Day 8

On this day there will be a private transfer to the Nevsehir Airport for a flight to Bodrum Milas or Dalaman airport – possibly through Istanbul – if not direct. Then from there another transfer to the harbor to embark on your private gulet charter for a one week blue cruise holiday in Southern Turkey.

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