Asian Countries instead of Russia Grape Harvesting kicked off in Georgia
01 September, 2011


Grape harvesting (“Rtveli”) officially began. Special operation center has been opened in Gurjaani town (East Georgia, grape cultivating region Kakheti). This year Kakheti expects considerably better harvest compared to the previous year. Paradoxically, this is why farmers are gripped with fear because wholesale discharge of harvested grape may prove to be a tough job. Ministry of Agriculture assures farmers that grape will be purchased by a great number of wine factories and that no problem will eclipse the Rtveli season.

According to Giorgi Chaduneli, Head of Public Relations Service of Ministry of Agriculture, nearly all factories operating in Kakheti are going to purchase grape harvest from farmers and hence all farmers should have peace of mind about the fate of their respective harvests. The State Budget issued 10 million Lari to subsidize Rtveli. Traditionally, Government will pay extra 15 Tetri to a farmer per kilogram of Rkatsiteli (Georgian variety) sold to a factory and 25 Tetri for Saperavi (another Georgian sort).

According to Bakur Kvezereli, Minister of Agriculture, over 30 factories are ready to accept harvested grape.

“Judging by applications received by the factories, despite high volumes of expected grape harvest, it will be fully accommodated by the factories and therefore no considerable problem should arise,” asserts Kvezereli.

By preliminary estimations, the region heads for impressive harvest to total 110 thousand tons and over. Out of it, 80 and 26 thousand tons will be Rkatsiteli and Saperavi sorts respectively, while the remaining 4-5 thousand tons will be other varieties, including hybrid ones.

General Director of Teliani Valley wine producing factory says that his company will collect up to 2 thousand tons of grape. As a matter of fact, he anticipates about 400 tons from his own vineyards. He does not rule out that the size and quality of the harvest may enable the company to create a new brand.

This year Badagoni plans to process 2200 tons of grapes, of which 1000 tons will come from its own vineyards and the rest - from farmlands. The company simultaneously plans to expand its exports. Currently, Badagoni wines reach 15 countries.

Tbilghvino will purchase 2300 tons of grapes from farmers. The company produces up to 30 brands of wines. Last year, this large assortment was enriched with three new brands called “Wine from Kvevri”, “Saperavi Pink” and “Saperavi Cabernet”. The company exports its products to up to 30 countries.

Despite commercial non-viability, farmers still cultivate hybrid varieties and now expect huge harvest of 5 thousand tons. However, factories claim that they have not thought about purchasing hybrid varieties and most probably they would not accept them accordingly. Akhmeta area of Kakheti is expected to arrive with the highest harvest of hybrid grapes.

Last year, total harvest of hybrid grapes amounted to more than 4 tons. In Kakheti it was collected by state factories at the price of 15 Tetri per kilogram. In comparison, Akhalsopeli and Kvareli wine factories paid 18-20 Tetri per kg. Thus, grapes of hybrid varieties have never received subsidies.

According to the official statistics, Georgian wine export accelerates gradually. Accordingly, use of Special Forces to enable full grape discharge may not be agenda of the day any more. The statistical data shows that Georgian wine producers are successfully exploring Asian markets. Unattainable Russia and likewise complicated situation about the European markets are gradually replaced by Asian markets. According to the wine makers, last year wine sales increased by 25% and this positive trend will continue this year too.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, wine factories in 2010 produced almost 16 million bottles of wine as opposed to 14 million bottles produced in the preceding year. It is therefore clear that replacement of Russian market with other export markets is on the steady way, albeit pre-embargo levels have not been overtaken as yet.

Russian embargo on the import of Georgian wines was imposed in the spring of 2006. The Russian side claimed that it had to make that move because of pesticides and other harmful substances allegedly found in the wines. To put it mildly, Georgian wine makers were accused of mass poisoning of Russian citizens. The Russian prosecution launched an extremely devoted extermination campaign against all Georgian wine bottles on the Russian territory.