Fall always has its own specific tourist destinations. Some prefer the mountains while others choose lakes or vineyards. Last week I was one of those who preferred vineyards out of these three beautiful options. I attended the Thrace Grape Harvest and Ecology Festival organized by Tekirdağ's Süleymanpaşa Municipality from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6. I believe this first-time festival is very critical for the promotion of the natural and cultural treasures of the Thrace region. In this context, my most sincere congratulations go to Süleymanpaşa Mayor Ekrem Eşkinat.
We attended the traditional molasses boiling ceremony on the very first day. There, they mixed the necessary ingredients for the grape molasses in giant boilers set up on the festival area. Afterward it was served hot to the guests. The same evening we listened to a concert of successful Rumeli folk singer Suzan Kardeş. Singing along with Balkan dancers, Kardeş was very impressive. Being a Balkan immigrant herself, the singer successfully represented and entertained immigrants in Tekirdağ.
The next day we toured the vineyards. I was quite impressed by the Barel Vineyard House. It is a beautiful enterprise established to reflect the vineyard villas in California. Everything is wooden, natural and simple. The barrels, swings and fireplaces used here and there for decoration are a plus. You are able to see the huge grapes yourself, taste the best examples of barbecue and enjoy the fresh air. You also have the chance to spend pleasurable hours with your family at the tables under the trees. I recommend you to try their pizzas as well as their meats. I thank the enterprise for their courtesy of welcoming us with a folk dance team in Tekirdağ-specific traditional clothes. Barel Vineyard House also hosts events. In addition to Barel, a series of events were organized in Barbare Vineyard House as part of the festival as well. I recommend you stop by Barel in the morning and visit Barbare in the evenings.
The owner of Barel, Barkın Akın, said he is going to open a boutique vineyard hotel with six rooms next year at the same spot. Congratulations to him for this business endeavor. The opening of such hotels is important for meeting the vineyard harvest expectations of the foreign tourists visiting Turkey.
Following the event at Barel we returned to the city in classic vehicles the Turkish Classic Automobile Club is attending the festival with. They were all vintage, well-maintained and beautiful. Our convoy consisted of almost 30 automobiles ranging from a 1970s Mercedes to a 1955 Cadillac. Congratulations to everyone who came all the way to Tekirdağ from Istanbul with their classic cars to color the festival.
Actually, the festival was not only a festival celebrating the grape harvest, but also an ecological event. Ecology and art were brought together with a concept described as "ecoart." I witnessed locals attending many events and workshops at the festival, from rhythm dance to creating oil paintings made of fruit inspired by the Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Likewise, traditional contests such as overturning barrels and carrying trays were quite entertaining. At the same time, the festival made an effort to create awareness for the importance of the consumption of ecological products and product choice. We sampled the products of the popular brands in Turkey as well as local ones in Tekirdağ at the festival. Among them, the products of Şarköy Farm caught my attention. From carrot jam to honey vinegar, I saw products I had never heard of before. I recommend checking out this brand for those who are looking for different natural and environmentally friendly products. Since the subject is food again, Etoba Restaurant is the answer if you are looking for where to try the famous Tekirdağ köfte. Apart from Tekirdağ köfte, I recommend you to try the buffalo yogurt, which is served in the shape of big, white blocks, and finish the meal with a desert called hayrabolu.
We also got some good news from the mayor while leaving the festival: The 2017 Balkan Sailing Championship will be held in Süleymanpaşa. I hope both sailing and grape-growing tourism develop and expand all over Thrace. I think our country has great potential in this respect, and the attention of foreign tourists must be captured immediately. I say mark the first week of September in your agenda for next year and attend this festival in Süleymanpaşa.