Çarşamba, 7 Aralık 2022
Çarşamba, Aralık 7, 2022
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A Kuzubağ Story

Unforgotten vines, undried grapes.


This week, we are in Çal, district of Denizli province of Turkey. The story is woven around Çal, so let's start with Çal. Çal is a plateau with the Büyük Menderes river running through the middle. Although there are different stories about the origin of its name, it means "high place" in Chagatai Turkish. Because the region has an average altitude of 850 meters. Viticulture has been the main source of livelihood here for centuries. As you drive down the road, vineyards are on your right, left, front and back.

If you see white grapes in these vineyards, it is Sultaniye, and if you see red grapes, it is Çal Karası. Sultaniye and Çal Karası are the local grapes here.

In the past, there were not many wine grapes in this region; grapes were usually dried to be raisins. In the last 20 years, modern viticulture techniques has started to be practiced to make wine grapes. Kuzubağ planted its first vineyard in 2007. This is the dream of Salih Kuzu and his family. A little love for home, a little love for wine. 

Aslı Kuzu, Salih Kuzu

We set off with Aslı Kuzu, heading to Çal. With the page-by-page measurements of the grapes in one hand and the weather app in the other, we started chatting. As you know, it's harvest time.

The winery was born in April 2020, and the foundation was laid in November. It is pandemic time with bans and limited working hours. "It's crazy to start in this period," I say to myself. My eyes must have given away my thoughts, because Aslı says, "Yes, it was very difficult." Just as we locked ourselves in our houses, the Kuzu family locked themselves in the winery. The goal is to catch up in time for the 2021 harvest, that is, to process grapes in August 2021. The winery was born in 9 months.

On life and space

"Where is this place?" I ask myself as I approach the winery; "Can't I see it?" The building is so integrated with the natural landscape that it seems as if it doesn't exist. The materials used, the colors and the height of the building are a big factor in this perception and feeling; the closer I get, the more I understand. When you enter the winery, you feel as if you are in the vineyards that you pass by - and it is indeed a building located in the vineyards. It is very harmonious with the environment; it seems to have taken its scale from the vineyards around it. We are in a 3000 square meter building, all exposed concrete. My curiosity is aroused, questions come to my mind.

Salute to the roots, respect for the origins. 

The materials and colors used in the building also have meaning. Don't colors always tell the identity of a place? Building culture has an important impact in the identity of a place/region. For example, take the white houses of Bodrum. Although we see those colors due to functional reasons such as the materials used and climate conditions, these colors turn into the building culture of that region over time. The materials and color tones used in the architecture of this winery attract my attention and I ask Aslı; why?

There is an mud brick wall at the entrance. In our village, houses were always built with mud brick. The soil here is clayey, calcareous and red - in most places. The reddish color of the soil is one of the characteristics of this region, and most of the houses here were plastered with mud using this soil. So we put it on the first wall you see at the entrance of the building. We wanted to show the material of this place in a way that is unique to it. When you look at the wall you can see the straw. This wall reminds me of my grandmother's house; it makes me feel at home. However, when you look at it, we are talking about a rough, mud wall; maybe it is not even aesthetic for some people. But for us it means that this is our own land, it means home.

In Anatolia, mud brick is a traditional building material obtained by mixing straw or other vegetable fibers into clay soil. Besides being a traditional material, it is a natural building material that consumes little energy in both its production and consumption - you say environmentally friendly, I say environmentally sensitive. Seeing these colors right at the entrance is like reading the back cover of a book. You understand where you are, and with whom. 

Then Aslı shows us the slate stone of Denizli. It is very common in this region, and very meaningful for the locals. Aslı says,

Our family always had slate in their houses. Denizli slate stone was used in a large part of this winery. There are masters of slate stone, and those old masters make them. It took months to build these walls because it is art. One by one, they lay those different orange, gray, white stones. It is a great labor. We wanted to keep this craft alive. The wall in the barrel room and some of the walls in the exterior structure are completely made of slate.

No matter how modern the winery is, it seems to salute the history, structure, and past of the region. I think the use of slate in the barrel room is also meaningful; it carries the past into the future, just as it carries the wine aged in the barrels into the future. I don't know if I'm being too romantic, but I really like the idea. Anyway, I couldn't help but find romance in this story.

In front of us is the Kalecik Karası vineyard, the glasses are filled with the same grape. While we are talking about these things, there is not even 10 meters between us and the vineyard, it is as if we are inside the vineyard. I don't know whether it was my first time in Çal or Aslı's endless excitement, but I was very impressed by this journey. I am filled with hope; there are new initiatives, unforgotten vineyards, undried grapes.


The images used on the labels are also a nod to their roots. While researching about the region, Elif came across images of people and goblets on coins. Inspired by them, she created the works below.

It is as if the labels are saying "Greetings to the civilizations that this region used to house!" There are always 2 people in the images; I see sharing and transmission. The wine glass is being shared, maybe information is being transmitted, maybe an emotion. But the place is the same, we are here, in the same land. Again, the concept of time comes to my mind, an endless flow; like a harvest.

Editor's wish: The region where we attended the harvest this week has been home to many different civilizations. Laodikeia, Tripolis, Hierapolis are some of them. It is now a must to walk around there and look for grapes. Maybe we will take a mini tour in the coming months, who knows.

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Büyük Menderes river


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🍷 September, the Month of Harvest

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Veraison is a wine publication that imagines the next sip while exploring the wine in its glass. I believe that wine is not only drunk on white-covered tables and I'm seeking a place on every table. In your inbox to draw sensory experience routes every week!