Wine in Georgia
Georgia is a land where wine has been made for at least 8,000 years. In fact, no where in the world has evidence of wine making been found dating back as far as in Georgia. Also fascinating is the fact that the type of large jars known as kvevri which are still used to make wine in Georgia today have been encountered – with wine residue on them – by archaeologists investigating Neolithic sites in Georgia.
The Georgian tradition of making wine in kvevris has been added to UNESCO’s Intagible Cultural Heritage List.
New & Old
Among the former Soviet Union republics, only Moldovia produces a higher volume of grapes per year than Georgia. Although modern large-scale wineries do exist in Georgia, the country is also home to thousands of small-scale farmers who produce wine, and wine is also produced by certain Christian monasteries. Georgia is a country where some grape growers still practice maglari, i.e. the practice of planting grape vines that will grow up the trunks of fruit trees, creating a scenario where the grapes hang down along the fruits as they ripen.
Nowadays, you can find both modern-style wine and very traditional wines in Georgia. Some wine makers still keep the ancient tradition of fermenting crushed grapes, skins, stems and seeds together; a style that has vanished from most other parts of the wine-making world.
Georgia’s soil and climate are ideal for growing grapes and making wine, and the geology has create a rich source of natural springs with water that can be utilized to water the vines if necessary. There is also the Caucasian Mountain streams that bring mineral-rich water into the Georgian valleys.
The climate is rarely extreme in any direction; the summers are sunny but not excruciatingly hot, and the winters tend to be mild in the valleys. The Black Sea has a balancing effect on the Georgian climate.
Wine-producing regions of Georgia
Georgia has five main regions of viniculture:
- Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti
The principal region is Kakheti, where approximately 70% of all Georgian grapes are grown. Tsinandali, one of Georgias best-known white wines, is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from Telavi and Kvareli – two micro regions located within Kakheti.
A typical Georgian wine bottle etiquette will carry the name of the source region, district or village from whence the wine is. It is common for Georgian wines to be made from a blend of two or more grape varieties, but wines made from a single variety also exist and are not difficult to obtain.