Centuries ago, Kırklareli was a centre of viticulture and wine. Over time the vineyards slowly dwindled away and winemaking almost disappeared. There is a historical path that winds through the least known villages of Kırklareli, a path once built to carry wine to Kıyıköy. History tells of rakı and wine in large barrels being carried along this road in ox drawn carriages to Kıyıköy where they would be loaded onto ships to be sent to Venice and Marseille. In ancient maps, these paths that travel through Uskup to İğne Ada and the ports of Kıyıköy are marked as “wine roads”.
The wine road passes behind the village of Çeşmekolu, next to Arcadia Vineyards. The exact area where our vines are planted today was named in ancient maps as Bağlık Yakası, literally translating as “the vineyard valley”.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the spread of phylloxera destroyed 95% of the vineyards in France. At this time there was a privileged trade agreement between France and the Ottoman Empire, called “The Capitulations”. In the following five year period, a big part of the demand for wine was met from Thrace and the Aegean region. It is estimated that during this period somewhere around 70 million litres of wine were exported from Thrace to France.
This potential for production now lies dormant in this area. The main aim of the Arcadia project is to reawaken this potential so that, as in the past, a world class product made from local grapes is exported once again to the world.
Historical viticulture in Kırklareli
- Viticulture was known to be a part of these lands since the Thracian Era (2nd century AD)
- Festivities known as Vintage, Vineyard and Creek Celebrations are reflections of an original culture that many hundreds of years ago lived in Kırklareli.
- In 1658, Evliya Çelebi visited Kırklareli, and recorded spotting thousands of acres of vineyards and orchards, writing of how one would get lost in them.
- Written records refer to Kırklareli as “Lozengrad” which means “Grape Town” or “Vineyard City”
- When the Turks made Anatolia and Thrace their home, they met people who worked in vineyards as a trade and were introduced to and integrated into viticulture.
- An artist who painted Kırklareli in the 1830s, talks of vineyards lining the roads and vines running over into the avenues. In those years the people of Kırklareli made and sold wine. There once used to be barrels of wine weighing over 50 tonnes in the cellars of homes in Kırklareli.
- Today, some big jars or large barrels can still be found underground, that were once used not only as cisterns and storage, but also to age wine and store water for journeys.