A Visit to the Vineyards of Sirince, Turkey
In my previous article Discovering Izmir, Turkey: A European Vacation, I discussed our trip to beautiful Izmir. During our stay in Izmir we visited several nearby cities including Sirince, Troy, Canakkale, Bodrum, and Kusadasi. The focus of this article will be on the wonderful day we spent in the ancient Sirince wine village.
Sirince (Pronounced she-rin-jay, which means "Cute") stands out among the many picturesque towns overlooking the southwestern region of the Aegean Sea. Located just 30 kilometers from Kusadasi, this small village of only 600 residents is nestled in the hills overlooking a large vineyard. As we drove into the village I immediately recognized the Greek names prominently displayed on the signs that laced the entranceway. These are reminiscent of the days when this was primarily an Anatolian Greek village prior to their immigration back to Greece in 1922. The original settlers named the town Cirkince, which meant "rather ugly" as a means of discouraging other people from settling in the area. After visiting Sirince I completely understood their intent. (Kusadasi, 2010), (Izimbozada, 2008).
I fell in love with this charming village from the first moment I saw it, and this feeling grew as the day went on. I felt like I had stepped back in time and entered an undiscovered paradise. This inspirational environment resembled an artists' commune and was definitely conducive to creative writing. I told my wife that I could literally spend the rest of my days there writing and making wine and be perfectly happy.
The whole town is basically one large winery entrenched with small shops that sell bottles of the town's homemade wine, olives, soap, spices, clothing, and numerous other intricate and fascinating hand crafted items. Winding brick and cobblestone streets gently lead you from one shop to another. A small hotel is available for guests who wish to spend more quality time there, and the local restaurants provide delicious homemade Turkish meals.
In addition to grapes the countryside is abundant with many types of indigenous fruits that are used to make their lush and vibrant wines. These fruits include apples, plums, peaches, cherries, strawberries, tangerines, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, and figs. Olive trees infiltrate the landscape and are used to produce fresh olive oil, which is bottled and sold in the local shops.
This small village produces several million bottles of wine each year. One German vendor set up shop in 1999 opening the Artemis Sirince Restaurant and Winery, and by 2003 was producing almost 3 million bottles of wine annually.
Each local shop offers gratis samples of their house wines, and most of the ones I tried were rich, full-bodied fruit wines with a sweet palate and smooth finish. The flavors were so vivid that it actually felt like I was drinking the fruit from which the wine was made. (Rivard, 2008).
We found a scenic outdoor café that was completely shrouded by grape harbors, and I sat there absorbing the incredible view like a thirsty sponge. This was one of the most serene settings I have ever encountered. As we dined I noticed the white painted houses with red tiled roofs that were embedded in the hillside where the villagers lived. The urge to stay and join them in their peaceful daily life was overwhelming. The townspeople happily lived and worked here and so could I, I though to myself. This village definitely left an indelible mark on me and I knew that I would one day return.
Other historical sites to see while in Sirince include a visit to the church of Saint John the Baptist, which was constructed in the 19th century around 1832. This is one of three known churches that were built in Turkey in his honor. The other two are located in Ephesus and Cappadocia. (Sansal, 2010), (Veniex, 2008), (Turkish Heritage, 2010).
If you ever visit the region of Ephesus, take my advice and treat yourself with a trip to the local paradise known as Sirince. You'll be glad you did.