While the sun was rising, we drove through Thrace countryside making our way from Vinero Winery to Arcadia Vineyards on the last day of our Turkish press trip. With 3 hours traveling time in between them (but just about 2 hours from Istanbul), we left Vinero with our boxed breakfasts at half past six in the morning, groggy from a very early start, with the still dark skies looming above us. At around ten, we finally entered Arcadia Vineyards’ estate as Zeynep Arca Salliel met us with an enthusiastic welcome.
Arcadia Vineyards was established 10 years ago by Zeynep Arca Salliel and her father, Ozcan with the intention of making natural and unique wines that reflect the mountainous terroir of Northern Thrace. With 200 hectares of vineyards, nine kinds of international and local grapes are grown, namely: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Sangiovese, Pinot Gris, Okuzgozu and Narince.
Being 150 meters above sea level and positioned at a central part of Thrace, the vineyards experience a big difference between day and night temperatures throughout the year. Owing to its diurnal variation, the white grape varieties receive excellent ripeness alongside lively acidity. The microclimate in this part of Thrace is perfect for creating lively white wines with mineral qualities, balanced acidity and rich fruity aromas.
The grapes in Arcadia are sorted by hand then fermented separately in stainless steel tanks to preserve the unique characteristics of each variety then after fermentation the blends are made. The winery is designed to let gravity move the grapes instead of pumping them.
In 2009, Arcadia had its first vintage and it even won gold in international wine awards.
After all the research, knitting their way across the globe between winery after winery for hands on knowledge and experience, studying about viticulture, and most of all, the hard work, it should have been quite an exhilarating moment!
During our wine tasting at the winery and over lunch, we were served different kinds of Arcadia wines. All of them were distinctively great but the ones that I loved most were: Arcadia Odrysia Narince 2013 obtained from 100% native Narince grapes, is a particularly fresh and delicate white wine with floral notes and citrus aromas. For the red, the full-bodied Arcadia blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged in French oak for 12 months, in both 2009 and 2012 vintages that we tried were good. The Arcadia 333 Late Harvest Botrytis Sweet Wine obtained from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, has delicious notes of honey and very fresh.
Chef’s Table Restaurant. Like the wines, the food in their restaurant showed a tone of excellence. The fruits and vegetables come from their own vegetable gardens or from the local farmers while the rest come from the village cooperative and the artisans within the region. Our lunch was composed of different dishes that were simple, familiar, and paired perfectly with Arcadia wines. Note: The menu changes daily and prepared with seasonal ingredients.
Bakucha Vineyard Hotel is the luxurious hotel and spa that’s part of the Arcadia Vineyards. It is located at the central part of the estate to enjoy 360 degrees of the panoramic views of the Istranca Mountains and the vineyards. Having gorgeous sunset views, there is a round terrace bar on the topmost floor where you can get aperitif.
Spending a pampering holiday is never complete without the perks of a spa therapy. With access from outside the hotel building, a wooden gate with an open-air garden walk leads to different rooms where the Turkish bath, sauna and massage room are housed. In the garden, there is a hot tub and a swimming pool with outstanding views of the estate. I can’t imagine how wonderful it is in the warmer months.
The hotel has 18 junior suite rooms with private terraces facing the pool side. Good food, wine and spa may be the main interests in this hotel but the place can also boast about the homey embrace and warmth that it gives to its clients. With its proximity to Istanbul, a weekend or even a week of luxuriating gastronomic holiday can help rub down that urban stress we all live with.
– Arcadia Vineyards