From the sun-kissed vineyards of Tekirdag, overlooking the Sea of Marmara, Turkey seems blessed with the potential to become a major wine producing nation. The hard part, says [winemaker Cem] Cetintas, is working with the limitations of the local wine industry.
Winemakers complain of a heavy tax burden and a government that they feel is unsympathetic to their industry. The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has its roots in political Islam, which frowns on alcohol consumption, and the Turkish population is largely Muslim - though many Turks drink alcohol.
Despite the ancient history of Anatolia, where the Hittite and Greek civilizations produced wine for thousands of years, the vineyards have made only faltering progress.
....Many winemakers fear the industry is now being held back by opposition to alcohol consumption within the government and the municipalities run by the AKP.
They point to increases in wine taxes, which now amount to €1.87 per liter, or $9.69 per gallon, nearly four times the EU average of €0.48 per liter.
"The wine sector has reached a stage where it could be a key source of foreign currency," Cetintas said. "But because of the 400 percent tax hike three years ago, the sector is crumbling." His company, Melem Wines, aims to export about 60 percent of the 250,000 bottles planned for production this year.