BUSINESS
Meet 19-year-old Georgian winemaker and cheesemaker
07 February, 2017
Jemal Khatiashvili is a 19-year-old young man from the village of Tibaani in eastern Georgian Kakheti region. Recently he bottled his own brand of wine, made from the vineyard that belonged to his ancestors, then aged a cheese in it and achieved a considerable success when his products were named among the top 5 in Georgia.

- Our vineyard is in Sighnaghi Municipality’s village of Tibaani. Everything began when I turned 14. That was the first time when I pressed grapes and
made wine. Our family has always been actively involved in winemaking and I learned everything from my father. It was my idea to bottle wine made of our own grapes. I think it was a good decision.

- Do you have your own vineyards or you buy grapes from others?


- The area of our vineyard is 6 hectares (15 acres) and we have 53 varieties of grapes. Of course we have Rkatsiteli too, as well as Saperavi and other traditional species. We also have the so-called table grapes - the varieties that are not good for wine and I plan to make jams out of them in the future.
- What was it like to see your own wine made and bottled?

- That was a wonderful feeling of course. I did not imagine that it would be such a big success. I was 14 when I made my first wine and that was intended for my friends and relatives. When we tasted it three years later, it was very good. Everybody liked it. So that was a huge boost for me to continue the business. At first it was only 20 bottles but it was a really good feeling.

- What do your friends say? Do they like what you’re doing?


- Everybody is ready to offer help at any time – friends as well as relatives. My friends like it very much because they are the first to taste my wine (laughs). Some of my friends do not have houses or vineyards in the village and they always visit me to see how everything is done.
- We learned that you also produce cheese…

- Yes and it is also connected to my parents. They began producing cheese several years ago and now I continue what they started. Recently I decided to age the cheese in my wine and at this stage I have several types of delicacies.
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- How is the cheese aged in wine distinguished?

- I age it in Saperavi and that makes the cheese taste like wine. Generally, red wine is the best for this purpose. We have the types aged in honey as well and its taste is sweeter. They are very delicious and enjoyable in the morning.

- How long does it take to age cheese in honey or wine?


- 40 days is a perfect period.

- Do the foreign tourists like your products?


- They do very much. A poll was conducted among the foreigners and my brand was listed among the top 5 Georgian products.

- What are your plans for the future?


- First of all I want to develop and perfect my enterprise. I want more people to know and taste my products – wine and cheese.

By Meri Bliadze fro Shin.ge

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