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YE, SEV, DANS ET ! 

URLICE, IZMIR 

The Ancient Urla Wine Route

SERRA TÜKEL

05/09/2018

 

As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s in Izmir, I could never imagine that Urla would become the Tuscany of Turkey. It was only a decade ago that the hidden treasuries of the city came to light: The Ancient Urla Wine Route.

I was so surprised that these lands would be suitable to accomodate such rich variety of vineyards. Ok, we always had tasty, juicy grapes and the best dried raisins, but there was no sign of making such good wine ever.  Izmir was always hot, had poor rain and not so many green fields.

On the contrary, it turns out that micro-climates in the area together with the strong winds is actually helping to keep the soil moist and humid all year long.

I have seen the proof of this when I visited the cellars in Urlice Vineyards. It was 39C degrees outside, yet the cellar located one floor down the ground level felt like 20-22 degrees with all wet walls. And it was even more surprising to learn that the characteristics of this land was discovered centuries ago, way back to the time of Ionions and Lydians in 1200BC.

Those civilizations were producing wine in the peninsula during ancient times and even exporting some of their production to the rest of the World thousands of years ago.  The sophisticated wine culture as well as the vineyards were totally abondoned when the non-muslims moved out from these lands.

Better than never, today the ancient tradition is awakening in the region once again with many new boutique wineries to explore and great wines to taste...

Better than never, today the ancient tradition is awakening in the region once again with many new boutique wineries to explore and great wines to taste...

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WHERE TO GO?

 

Urlice Vineyards

Urlice is the pioneer of the wineries in Urla that rejuvenated wine making tradition back in 2006. Do not miss to see the ancient looking underground cellar of Urlice. I also suggest that you come here in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset over the vineyards with a chilled bottle of Chardonnay.  

 

Urla Winery

Is the biggest producer in the area with a sophisticated, modern cellar and an exquisite boutique hotel overlooking the vineyards. While the production of rest of the wineries in Urla is around 10-20K bottles per year, Urla Winery is producing 200K bottles, including many world-wide award winning wines such as Nexus, Tempus and Vourla. I would recommend that you try the Sauvignon Blanc, Bogazkere and 2016 Blend of Nero d’Avola & Urla Karası in Urla Winery as well and have a guided tour in the cellars before you leave the premises.

 

USCA

Usca wines under the “Sonnet” label is inspired by the sonnets from William Shakespeare and is surely a must see in the region with its gothic wine cellar and relaxing gardens overlooking the vineyards. I had two favourites in here, both made out of local grapes which were the Sonnet 5 "Muscat of Bornova" and Sonnet 23 "Syrah & Noir de Focai".

 

Mozaik

Though I didn't have time to visit this place, I saved Mozaik Winery for my next visit to Urla, which also has a horse farm besides the vineyards and its “Mahrem” branded Petit Verdot wine has received the bronze medal from the International Wine Challenge which is surely a must-try when I come back here.

If you have more time in Urla, there's also MMG, Limantepe and Urla Bağevi to visit and explore within the Urla Wine Route. 

TO EAT 

Once you are in the Urla Wine Route, you would like to extend your visit and have a nice dinner after touring the vineyards. That's what happened to me and here comes some suggestions for dinner around the wineries. 

Urlice Restaurant

You can end your tour in Urlice Winery that offers really nice stone oven pizzas and salads with an amazing sunset view of the vineyards.

Urla Vino Locale

If you’d like to have a more extensive meal you can go to Urla Vino Locale in Kuscular in the middle of the vineyards that serves fresh and gourmet delicacies with the seasonal vegetables and fruits from the region as well as a rich selection of wines from the area. 

P.s. kids below the age of 15 are not allowed in this restaurant.

Hiç Lokanta & Tadim Atölyesi

Last but not the least, if you’d like to visit town of Urla, then do not miss Hiç Lokanta & Tadım Atölyesi that is located in Urla Art Street which serves totally delishes lunch and dinner menus from Wednesday to Sunday. Do not miss to buy their home-made Hiç Olive Oil and whole wheat bread with olives and walnuts.

 

WINES TO GO

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Nero D’Avola, Gaidoura, Boğazkere, Muscat of Bornova, Sultaniye, Noir d’Urla (Urla Karası) and Noir de Focai (Foça Karası) are among the very many grapes that grow in Urla vineyards. I have already highlighted some of my favourites when I talked about the vineyards I visited. You will also find out that there will be some limited production that wineries do not market and save for their visitors. Those are the treasuries of Urla. 

 

WHERE TO STAY 

If you’d like to extend your visit and stay over in Urla, then you may check out vacancies in Maison Vourla Hotel, Urla Pier Hotel, Zeytin Hotel in center of Urla or Urla Bağevi Boutique Hotel that is located in the vineyards. There’s also the deluxe Two Rooms Hotel in Urla Winery which could be suitable for any kind of special occasion and celebration with your loved one.

 

ALSO SEE

Uzbaş Arboretum

Once you arrive at the Urla Winery, don't miss to see the Uzbaş Arboretum that is 2.5 km away from the vineyards that has nearly 2000 different types of plants and is the biggest farmland for growing palm trees in this region. 

 

Urla Art Street

Located at the heart of Urla center, this street is full of cute, little shops & cafes, antique stores, and old buildings. Hic Lokanta & Tadim Atolyesi that I mentioned above is also on this street in one of the renovated old buidlings.

EXPLORE

Slow City Sığacık

Turkey's first Cittaslow (Slow City) Sığacık, Seferihisar is less than 30 km from Urla city center.  You can drop by Sigacik, the ancient city of Teos, walk around in its cute narrow streets and have great seafood and mezes by the sea at Dağ Evi Fish Restaurant. On Sundays, Sigacik has its famous market where local women sell pastries, seasonal oven cooked dishes on the streets. 

Ayda Winery Gödence

Midway from Sigacik to the center of Urla, do not miss to see the Ayda Winery in Godence. This boutique winery has a tasting room, a restaurant that only serves via  pre-booking and a 6 room hotel within its premises. 

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