Grape Varieties - Turkey
Kuntra is the oldest grape variety cultivated in Bozcaada, as well as Mürefte (Tekirdag) and Erenköy (Canakkale) in western Turkey. Its presence in Bozcaada has been documented for at least for 500. Even though similar Kuntra varieties can be found in Anatolia and in Bulgaria under different names such as Karasakız, Mavrut, Mavrobilla, Mavrella, it is Kuntra that is originally from Bozcaada.
Grapes are pinkish colored, numerous, medium sized, and contain one or two seeds. In Bozcaada vineyards they are cultivated with the traditional method in which vine trunks (called omca in Turkish) are kept close to the soil. Vines have a length between 30-100 cm. Each trunk has 3-5 stems and on the top of each stem there are 2-4 short pruning sticks. This method is very commonly used in old vineyards in Turkey as it is inexpensive and easy to set up, but not suitable for mechanization. On the island, in 1000 sq. m of land approximately 600 vine trunks are cultivated. A vineyard of 5000 sq. m with 3000 vine trunks yields 10-15 tons of product in best conditions. However, the harvest period has a vital importance, because, if it is not harvested on time, rotting starts.
Currently, the Kuntra grape is used for rosé wine, liquor production or coupage wines with Karalahna or Monosepage wines. Even though it is acknowledged by winemakers, during the renovation process of old vineyards in Bozcaada (after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey), most of the wine companies gave priority to foreign grape varieties. The main reason of decreased Kuntra grape production is the shutdown of the monopolistic tobacco and alcoholic beverages factor in Çanakkale in 2007, which had bought the majority of Kuntra grapes for cognac production. Because Kuntra is not the most suitable variety for wine making, tons of Kuntra grapes were left to rot in vineyards.
Recently local wine companies on the island are purchasing Kuntra from producers to save this variety, but the price per kg is very low. Therefore, day by day this variety gets closer to the risk of extinction. Moreover, due to the increasing tourism activities on the island, lands dedicated to vineyards are diminishing; people sell their land for tourist facility construction or move to the tourism sector on their own. Consequently, attention to local grape varieties remained only on the local level and production has decreased.