Carrying On The Tradition Of Winemaking In Thrace

Apr 7, 2021 | Eating & Drinking

The origins of winemaking in Thrace date back around 4,000 years. Legend has it that Zagreus was the horned baby and the first incarnation of Dionysus, Zeus and Persephone’s son. Even 4,000 years ago wine was known for its inebriating effects. Don’t we all aspire to be the God of wine!

In literature, the ancient Thracians are depicted as being ‘drunkards’. The philosopher Pliny the Elder lists more than 90 grape varieties grown in the ancient vineyards of Thrace.*

Even in Homer’s  ‘The Odyssey’ in the 8th century BC, The town of Maronia (or Maroneia) on the Aegean coast of Thrace is particularly important to the history of wine, as it was where Odysseus was given the ‘honey-sweet’ wine that he used to intoxicate the Cyclops before killing it.

Enough of that dusty old history…….
I am indeed fortunate to live here in Thrace or Trakya as it is known in Turkish. On any weekend we can make a last minute decision to go visit a great winery around us. Here are three fantastic opportunities for those wishing to escape the traffic of Istanbul Notreally in any order of preference, each place has its own unique experiences.

Gurbuz Restaurant

Gurbuz Restaurant And Winery

In 2013 we moved into the house we’d just purchased in Tekirdag. Very quickly we made friends with the neighbours and in particular one chap, Akin Gurbuz who was a winemaker who then consulted to all the best wineries in Turkey. Not long afterwards Gurbuz Restaurant and Winery was born.

Situated in Buyukkaristiran near Corlu Akin’s dream has grown. Instead of making Gold Medal blends for all the other premier wineries, he makes it for himself. Gurbuz wines have since become so popular that most of his premium blends are pre-sold. Most of his grapes are from the Thrace, Gallipoli and Marmara area. His family hail from the Ganos Mountains area and is the son of third generation grape growers and fishermen.

The winery itself, situated in an industrial estate (sanayi)initially surprises visitors. People often tell me that they didn’t know what they got themselves in for when they pulled into an area of factories, trucks, workers and pallets. But then they are met at the door by the winemaker himself with an inviting smile. This wine is probably the best wine I’ve tasted in Turkey and arguably anywhere I’ve travelled and lived. 

Gurbuz Restaurant


Gurbuz Winery offers a very generous tasting of 6 bottles. Usually starting with his whites, his budget-minded MOODs line and culminating with his superb Turkish varietals of Okuzguzu and Kalecik Karasi. Finished with his Blend #1, his premium drop and not soon forgotten.

Akin after welcoming guests will take them through his incredible story of his education in the US, working in Napa Valley and New Zealand before returning to Turkey to pursue his dream.

A unique facet of the Gurbuz operation is the walk through the production area. Akin will take you from tank to barrel and his barrel-tasting allows you to taste the next vintage, offer your opinion and advice.

Tastings include a gourmet cheese platter, locally made olive oil and bread etc.
Be prepared though, a bottle opened usually means a bottle finished!


Gurbuz Restaurant and Winery offers lunches on request. The usual fare being kofte or chicken with bulgar wheat and salad, On request they can arrange the local delicacy in season of Oglak or roast young goat. If you just turn up the choices may be limited but they can usually get you fed.

Wine Sales

Gurbuz offers discounted wine sales after the tastings. And they can keep you informed of new and exciting products coming along in the future.

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