The story of the Artemis Sirince restaurant and winery began during a vacation trip in July, 1994. Walking along the cobblestone streets in a village surrounded by peach orchards, vineyards and olive groves, Helmut Hermann Krauss visited Turkey and became inspired by villagers selling handcrafts, olive oil and wines. Also, cafes and wine shops offered coffee, tea or even a local vintage waiting to be tasted.
In those years, all Krauss knew about Turkey was from media reports and from those Turks living and working in Germany whom he knew through companies he had been working for.
My destination was Marmaris and, both the country and its inhabitants’ mentality, left a mark. A friend of mine from my German hometown, Zell, gave me the advice to visit the town Selçuk as well as the holiday resort, Dereli, located at the beach in Pamucak. This was not far from my future work-place, Sirince, a village whose name I didn’t even know at that time,? recalled Krauss.
In succession, Krauss was to make additional trips to Sirince as the idea of the Artemis Sirince firm became a reality.
As an oenologist and winemaker, I was naturally interested in the country’s culture of wine that I had read about and which I had learned included the first grapevine that existed in human history, the so-called Vitis Vinifers Caucasica, which is to be found in the East of Turkey.
An advantage Krauss had in establishing a business was his relative ease in communicating with Turkish citizens due to his native language and his limited English vocabulary. As he came to understand the open-mindedness of people toward wine products, he saw the chance to seize an opportunity to make a difference. In 1995, he twice spent his holidays in Selçuk. Based in the holiday resort of Dereli, he repeatedly traveled to the village of Sirince.
My hosts, Abrahim Dereli and Teffik Türker, showed me the village and the district. At that time, tourism wasn’t yet widespread,? said Krauss.
In many places he visited he was asked to taste wines that had been produced by local farmers and were predominantly sold in plastic bottles.
Whenever I was asked my opinion about the quality of these wines, I often had to avoid answering. Mostly, the wines were uncultivated and left to their own resources, said Krauss.
In January 1996 I had been in Pamucak for a week. Before coming, I had placed an order for about one million liters of blueberry-wine from the Weinkellerei am Goldberg GmbH winery in Germany, in which I was a co-partner. At that time, the blueberry crops in Europe and Scandinavia were low and reduction offers seemed impossible.
On a Thursday in January 1996 Dereli showed him his parcels of land in Sirince and Krauss admired the variety of agriculture in the area.
In my pocket I found a label with a picture of blueberries. Incidentally, I asked Mr. Dereli if such fruits generally existed in Turkey. He didn’t think so but he called Mustafa Çiftçi, who was working for him, to inquire about blueberries. Çiftçi took a look at the label and told us that there were lots of such berries in Turkey, said Krauss.
From that day, his interest began to grow and he began discussing the possibilities of producing wine, fruit-wine and juices in Turkey with Çiftçi, who was to become a central figure in the enterprise.
In spring 1997 Mr. Ufuk Kirall called me at the request of Çiftçi and asked me to come to Turkey that coming weekend because of a very interesting project in the village of Sirince. He told me it was possible to take over the former olive oil factory of the village and the old historic school to create a joint winery and restaurant. At first I refused.
Nevertheless, Kirall convinced Krauss to take the journey. A night flight via Istanbul brought him to ?zmir on a Saturday morning. The men met on the terrace of the Güven Hotel, overlooking the roofs of Selçuk so they might clearly see the available opportunity. The two buildings seemed very favorable from a distance, and even more so during a later visit on the ground.
The way the financial investment had been presented to me was more than manageable. That way, I was allowed to have second thoughts and discuss it with friends and close acquaintances. Two weeks later, I decided to take the risk with the financial support of five friends.
The summer of 1997 was also when Krauss was able to determine whether the German market was interested in blueberries grown in Turkey. With the agreement of his Turkish partner, he obtained an order for locally raised blueberries.
The same month, I visited the Tourism Ministry in Ankara with Mr. Çiftçi in order to sign the contract for purchasing the buildings in Sirince. My concept combining wine, culture and tourism convinced the responsible minister, Mr. Doan, and we obtained the additional permits. We started the construction which was completed in 1998.”
In 1999 they distributed the first wines produced in ?irince to tourists in the village’s restaurants. However, during the next three years the new company was not commercially successful. In this period, the group reported sharing many experiences, including hard times, until Krauss met with Güray Yaylarlar.
In 2002 I brought Güray to Germany and taught him the art of making wine. As he seemed to be deeply interested, he convinced me to continue the work being done in the wine cellars in Sirince. Thus, in March 2003 we both started all over again. We have enormously increased our capacity and we are looking to produce up to three million bottles per year.
His concept of creating a new center for manufacturing aromatic fruit wines in Turkey has proven correct. Very quickly, Artemis Sirince has become a trade name. Also, the firm’s grape wines are now well received. In the process, Sirince has become the most famous village for wines in Turkey and Krauss’ enterprise has made a substantial contribution to this new industry.
From the Turkish Daily News