Viewed from above in a hot air balloon, Turkey’s Cappadocia region looks more like the rugged American Southwest than a wine country. It resembles Bryce Canyon combined with the Grand Canyon, but honeycombed with mysterious, unearthly troglodyte cities.
Nowadays, people visit this dramatically beautiful, thoroughly unique and tangibly ancient landscape for its seemingly alien geologic formations and frescoed rock-cut churches. Many take advantage of the surprisingly luxurious cave hotels, most notably Selçuklu Evi and Yunak Evleri, both located on the outskirts of picturesque Ürgup.
But few realize that Cappadocia boasts a thriving wine industry, and has for at least a millennium or four. Just around the corner from Selçuklu Evi stands one of the region’s best wineries, Turasan. In its modern, friendly tasting room, it’s possible to sample a wide range of local whites and reds. Be sure to taste the crisp, minerally Emir and Narince varietals. Red wine drinkers shouldn’t miss trying some Öküzgözü and Kalecik Karasi.
The Kocabağ Winery near the semi-troglodyte town of Uçhisar also produces satisfyingly dry wines using indigenous Turkish varieties.
Cappadocian wines, despite their charms, rarely find their way abroad. So while planning your itinerary in this most otherworldly and ancient of landscapes, be sure to take time to relax with a unique local vintage.