Zeynep Arca – founder of Arcadia Vineyards

In our series spotlighting influential women in the wine industry, we next turn our attention to Zeynep Arca Şallıel, the esteemed founder of Arcadia Vineyards. This remarkable venue not only highlights Zeynep’s passion and innovation in winemaking but also proudly hosts the initial part of this year’s competition. What follows is an in-depth interview with Zeynep, providing valuable insights into her winemaking philosophy, her journey in the industry, and the pivotal role of Arcadia Vineyards in advancing the field of viticulture.


What is wine for you? 

Wine is energy, transferring the sun’s pure energy absorbed through the grapes, blended with the wisdom of the earth.
Wine is heritage, a culture that is present since thousands of years through the history of human civilization.
Wine is a natural phenomenon, reproducing its natural beauty time and time again. 
Wine is connection, between people and terroir, rural and urban. A beautiful fact; the word for vineyard in Turkish is Bağ, and the same word also means connection, a meaningful homonym.
Wine is the most civilized aspect of social life and gastronomy, most sophisticated and refined pleasure.


How did you enter the wine industry? 

Born and raised in Istanbul, I have lived all my life in big cities. During university in Paris, I have become a devoted consumer and artisanal wine lover.  In the beginning of 2000’s I started reading on climate change and ecology and decided that wanted a closer connection to the earth in my life. Given the immense untapped potential in Turkey and wine’s unique quality of being both rural -in its production and urban -in its consumption, turning this passion for wine into something more seemed natural, setting the foundation of the diverse ecosystem Arcadia Vineyards is today.


What is your philosophy in making wine, and how is it reflected in your product?

In a world where everything needs to be louder and bigger, Arcadia Vineyards stand for the value of elegance and refined beauty.

Our philosophy is to respect the Terroir and support it by providing a healthy ecosystem within our enclosed estate. Balanced ecosystem and balanced soil help the balanced maturity for the grapes which is key to great wines. After all, everything in existence are connected. 

Our commitment to biodiversity and the agro-ecological practices in the vineyard have been presented as a case study in future of sustainability by Giesco conference in Thessaloniki, in 2019. In our gravity fed winery we favor a “light-handed” style of winemaking, with minimum manipulation. To preserve the unique tastes of the terroir, our wines are bottled unfined and undergo limited filtration only to make sure they remain alive until being served and transmit the vitality of the vineyards to the consumer. 

This meticulous process reflects in the rich, layered and elegant character of our wines.


How important do you consider education and training in the wine industry, and are there any special programs for women?

A vast subject as wine is a never-ending education

Not only to understand and produce wine, but it also helps to appreciate it fully. 

I consider myself very lucky to have had two great teachers Professor Alain Carbonneau and 

Dr. Michel Salgues to build this adventure together, from whom I have not only learned about wine but its close connection to everything around it. To share this luck with others, we have initiated a partnership program between Namık Kemal University, Turkey and Montpellier University for masters and post doctorate programs. We have great professors and researchers in Turkey working on the subject too but unfortunately, we still don’t have any wine specific university degrees in Turkey. Despite this, many brilliant, educated, talented women create the synergy of the wine world in Turkey today.

As my personal contribution to wine education, for the past 10 years I am supervising and teaching an oenology course in Yeditepe University gastronomy department, to equip the future chefs with an in-depth understanding of wine. 

Also, we regularly accept interns from Turkey and abroad in Arcadia Vineyards, to create learning opportunities for new generations. 


What advice would you give to young women who want to enter the wine business?

Keep your perspective wide and pursue the in-depth knowledge and understanding of wine instead of memorizing and repeating information. Always check the facts are in agreement with science, because the subject of wine may sometimes be open to mythical tales, which are beautiful yet one shall know to differentiate facts, in order to go far. All great experts I have had the chance to meet, were the most humble, passionate and curious people. Equip yourself with such knowledge that you shall not be afraid to challenge to defend what you believe in but also remain open to learning from diverse opinions.  Taste and smell everything and anything, work your “sensory muscles” and enlarge your smell library as much as you can. Use your intuition and intellect alongside your nose and palate.

Once you have unlocked that sensual level of understanding, you will reach a new realm, where your work will become a great fun! Enjoy.