May 27, 2017
Where did vitis vinifera
originate? Where do we think winemaking started? We think it's from
the area that is now the Republic of Georgia. Once part of the
USSR, this small, beautiful nation is reemerging as a wine power so
it's time for an overview!
Here are the show
Top level stuff...
- Georgia is where Eastern Europe meets Asia. Between the
Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea
- As big as Scotland or Ireland
- 111,000 acres of vines ranging from the coast of the Black Sea
to Kakheti, on the other side of the Caucasus mountains
- Outside Tbilisi, they only speak Georgian so when you go,
you've gotta hire a guide
- Russia to the north and Turkey and Armenia to the south
- Primary wine region of Kakheti—according to Georgians, the
birthplace of wine itself
- The main wine regions, from Kakheti in the east and Imereti,
Racha and Samegrelo in the west, are within a few hours’ drive from
Tbilisi, the capital
- a diverse climatic landscape that varies from temperate to
An Historical Relic: Qveri (Kwhere-vree)
- Traditional Georgian fermentation: a clay vessel used for
centuries to produce wine in Georgia.
- Qvervi: 1,000-liter beeswax-coated terra-cotta jar buried in
- A qvevri is a thick-walled vessel buried deep in the ground in
a marani, or Georgian wine cellar.
- naturally maintains wine at optimal temperature during
fermentation and allows it to age for many years without
- Once fermentation is complete, the wine can be racked into
another qvevri, leaving the heavy sediment behind.
- Qvevri white wine is sharp, strong, amber. or in the case of
reds, so dark it’s known as shavi gvino: black wine
Grapes: 500+ indigenous grape varietals
found in Georgia,
- Red: Saperavi, Tavkveri and Chkhaveri
plus Tavkveri, Shavkapito, Chkhaveri and Ojaleshi.
- White: Rkatsiteli (r-kat-see-telly), Chinuri
and Mtsvane (mits-vane)
- méthode Champenoise in Georgia since the late 1800s,
with native grape
- Orange wine: Friuli winemaker Josko
Gravner makes his sought-after “orange” wines using ancient
- Grapes and traces of wine residue have been found in
archaelogical digs from 8,000 years ago.
- Vitis vinifera originated from the Caucasus mountains in
- Ottoman rule in west, Christianity in the east made east side
of the country the wine powerhouse
- Georgia came under Soviet control a few decades later. Small
vineyards merged into huge co-ops =CRAP
- Georgia declared independence in 1991
- Russia's 2006 embargo on Georgian wine imports, lifted only in
June 2013. Forced diversification into other, stronger markets
The wines of Georgia have a little ways to go, but they
are a fascinating slice of vinous history and worth
seeking out or trying if they are ever right in front of