I always wanted to write about wine from its origins, and what better way to start than by describing my marvelous trip to this country with someone who enjoyed this adventure as much as me.
Georgia is an amazing small country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, where grapes have been cultivated from generation to generation for at least 8000 years, making the wine culture profoundly woven into customs and daily life.
Tbilisi, it’s capital city has something magic in the air, and wine makes itself felt all around. As an example, take the main statue of Mother Georgia overlooking the city and holding in her left hand a wine bowl to welcome anyone who’s coming for a visit.
In fact, you can taste wine all around, from street vendors selling homemade ones to beautiful wine-shops, where you can spend hours learning about Georgian winesMost of the restaurants offer great traditional food with a vast selection of kvevri winesThere are 10 wine regions throughout the country and 18 appellations of origin with micro climates where grapes evolve very differently giving each wine the characteristics of a specific terroir.KAKHETI, the easternmost region of Georgia is home of the largest wineries in the nation, accounting for some 70% of the country’s wine, with 75% of the grapes grown for production. Actually, 14 of the 18 Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) are in this region. Its vast vineyards, palaces, monasteries, and every single person (by the way, the best guides) are witnesses of this legendary and traditional art.
Since 2013, Georgia’s ancient qvevri winemaking method is part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Twins Old Wine Cellar In Napareuli, one of the fourteen PDO within Kakheti wine region, Twins Old Wine Cellar is known as one of the most distinguished wineries microzone. It’s owned and operated by the twins brothers Gia and Gela Gamtkitsulashvili where they make fabulous qvevri wines. In fact, at the entrance of the winery building there’s the only qvevri monument in Georgia where you can walk inside. They founded an unique museum of qvevri and qvevri wine where you can learn about the Kakhetian method of wine production, which is the simplest way to make great wines: Once the grapes are pressed, the juice, as well as grape skins, stalks and pips are poured into the qvevri, which is dug into the earth with the hole accessible at floor level. This provides consistent temperature during fermentationThe qvevri is then sealed, placing a coil of clay around its opening, and pressing a glass disc into the clay. Finally, it is covered with sand, so that the wine can ferment and age for at least 6 months. (next spring)The cellar has 107 qvevris of 3.5 – 4.5 tons capacity and wines are mostly made of Rkatsiteli and Saperavi grapes.
JSC Corporation KindzmarauliEstablished in 1533 by King Levan of Kakheti in the beautiful town of Kvareli, it is nowadays, since 1990, a corporation where four companies are working together. The owners are Georgian winemakers who produce 40 different wines in Georgian style, and classical modern style which are known locally and internationally for its high quality. They also make brandy and chachaChacha is the product of the distillation of the pomace
We tasted 2 whites; Kisi (Qvevri) and Kisi (semi sweet white), and two reds; Saperavi (Qvevri) and Kindzmarauli (Saperavi semi sweet)
“Marani” is the Georgian name for wine cellar. Marani Milorauli is a small winery run by Alexander Milorava, independent natural winemaker in Telavi, Kakheti region. It was so nice learning with him the traditional Kakhetian technology of making wine in a qvevri and how he is increasing his wine production. He makes beautiful qvevri wines with indigenous and European varieties . We tasted Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, and an interesting Syrah qvevri fermented. The whites, fermented in contact with grape skins, produce gorgeous amber wines (orange wines) which offer the tannin and structure of a red wine with the acidity of a typical white.And of course, ChaChaOn the way to …Mosmieri Winery
“Mosmieri” stands for a person who drinks and appreciates wine. Amazing winery located in the Tsinandali terroir of Kakheti wine region, overlooking the breathtaking landscape of Alazani Valley and facing the snow-caped mountain range of the Great Caucasus.It is dedicated to use only local grapes varieties, historically grown in the region, and produces 140.000 bottles annually in both, modern, and traditional Georgian winemaking (qvevri) We tasted Kakhuri, Tsinandali and Saperavi, in its big open terraceenjoying not only the gems in our glasses, but also the fascinating view.Brothers Khutsishvili Wine CellarIn the Kakheti village of Kishekhevi, this winery, operated by the brothers Giorgi and Gela Khutsishvili, has been producing wine for more than 200 years . They use only their own grapes : Kisi, Saperavi, Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane. The cellar has 9 Kvevri with capacity from 70 to 2.200 liters.
We visited this winery in April 2019, just in time when they were opening a kvevri, exactly six months from the harvest 2018. It was lucky to be there and taste the newborn wine There’s no question when they say that qvevri wines have a special taste. Then…, everything was ready for the “supra”, traditional Georgian dinner that revolves entirely around toasts. With Giorgi as the “Tamada” (toastmaster),we spent a wonderful time, toasting to the magic of being there
KARTLI, is another of the 10 wine regions of the country. It is located in central Georgia, and well-known for its high-quality classical European type and sparkling wines.
In Mtskheta Village, within the Kartli wine region.
Château Mukhrani was designed by French architects, and the surrounding gardens by a Versailles gardener ￼In 1878, Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni, descendant of one of the oldest dynasties in the world, the Bragatoni, released the first Mukhrani estate bottled wine. He was also the first to export Georgian wines. Nowadays the estate is managed by an organization.
Local and international varieties, planted in 100 hectares of vineyards adjacent to the Château, are used to make their wines, using new technologies
Twelve to eighteen months in oak casks gives Château Mukhrani wines an extra harmony
We tasted : Rkatsiteli, Chardonnay and Saperavi
Mtskheta (within Kartli wine region)Is a peaceful small town, UNESCO World Heritage Site, located at the confluence of The Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. It was the former capital of Georgia and one of the oldest cities in the country, settled around 3000 BC The Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Samtavro Monastery are key monuments of medieval Georgia.Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the major Orthodox Georgian temples. In front of the altar there is the burial place of Georgian rulers including Vakhtang Gorgasali, the founder of Tbilisi; Irakli II, the king of Kahetia; the rulers of Bagrationi dynasty and others.
How good it is to fill our lives with the breeze of history, and much more if it brings wine￼
Davit Luashvili, our guide.