BUSINESS
Qvevri to Become UNESCO Nominee
08 March, 2012

Qvevri wine-making technology will be nominated for the UNESCO’s Non-Material Cultural Heritage Protection Convention by the end of this March that will facilitate  Georgian wine and tourism promotion as well as Qveevri intellectual rights protection worldwide.

 

Georgian National Agency of Cultural Heritage Protection is conducting preparation works for nomination of Qvevri wine technology [Georgian traditional wine-making technology in clay jars embedded in the earth] at UNESCO by March 31, which is a fixed deadline for annual nominations at UNESCO. Coordination meeting

of cultural and wine sector pundits was organized by the Agency in cooperation with the USAID supported Economic Prosperity Initiative on February 29, 2012 to discuss the underway nomination related paper-work and specifics.

Georgian government believes UNESCO will acknowledge Qvevri wine technology as a part of international heritage protected by UNESCO convention of 2007 on Non-material Cultural Heritage Protection as the questioned wine-making technology based on wine fermentation and storage in Qvevri [this is the Georgian name for clay jar embedded in the earth that entered the international wine vocabulary since Qvevri is unique Georgian item and cannot be translated], is unequal, traces back to 8 thousand years without interruption and  is still in active practice. President of Georgia has already acknowledged Qvevri’s importance and granted a status of national monument heritage and protection. And now the process is supposed to get along at the international arena.

“This is a unique chance to be presented at the international arena and gain kind of platform at the international community by this multi-millenary tradition  and take our contribution niche in the world,” Nika Vacheishvili, Head of the Agency of Cultural Heritage Protection, said in the interview with Georgian Journal. “And we hope and are almost sure that UNESCO will give its code to Qvevri technology… all expertises we have held beforehand prove this and we do not expect any surprises. I think this process will successfully reach the end.”

The final decision will be made in November of 2013 at the UNESCO committee meeting but till then there will be due procedures carried out in Georgia: international experts will arrive here, a film targeted on foreign audience will be shot, and the technology that was transmitted verbally through generations up to now will be written and scientifically laid out in documents.

If UNESCO grants Qvevri wine its code it will be the second Georgian national treasure after Georgian polyphonic folk music acknowledged by UNESCO in 2001 preceding the approval of convention in 2007.

Actually Georgia has much more in store of non-material assets of cultural heritage to claim for UNESCO protection but Qvevri tops the list at the moment as far as wine connoisseurs acknowledge Qvevri wine to be the flagman of Georgian wine sector that is expected to have double effect on the country’s economy: to promote Georgian wine at international markets thus enhancing wine export, and give a huge impetus to tourism sector development through wine tourism on the other hand.

According to wine experts, wine-producer countries enjoy huge profits of wine tourism generally even countries of so called New World like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, that started wine-producing just 200-300 years ago by adopting several sorts of French grape now consider wine as flagman of economy while Georgia acknowledged a credited cradle of wine and viticulture with more than 500 local varietals was not put on the wine tourism destinations’ map at all until this year.

Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours – the leading international wine tour operator and the largest wine tour operator in the UK, offering the widest range of destinations – has included Georgia in its wine tour destination list recently and in September of 2012 Georgia will host the first wine tour. This was a result of Qvevri promotion campaign started in 2011 in Georgia when Georgian government put Qvevri wine on its priority agenda and UNESCO protection is believed to be a very powerful tool to make Qvevri wine more popular and Georgia one of the key wine tourism haunts.

Although UNESCO status is of cultural importance within itself it is also supposed to bring commercial benefits as it raises awareness of the country thus triggering tourist inflow willing to see the UNESCO protected cultural monuments. On the other hand, UNESCO sign can be put on the wine bottles that may enhance export, government believes.

Moreover, it can protect Qvevri wine from embezzlement its name by foreign companies. Qvevri became internationally popular lately for it produces completely healthy chemical-free bio-wine that tastes differently unlike wines produced through chemical-based European technology. And hence the modern wine market seeks for new tastes and bio-product, Qvevri wine has full potential to become very popular, wine pundits say.

Some foreign wine-producers spotting this chance adopted Qvevri technology but since the name sounded unfamiliar to international consumer they use to write Amphora [oil and wine transportation vessel made of clay and used in antic age] on their wines instead of Qvevri while these two things have nothing in common except that both are made of clay. This triggers confusion and violates intellectual property rights of Georgia over Qvevri wine. But Sakpatenti, Intellectual Property Protection body of Georgia, could not prosecute such violations since international intellectual property law protects only newly invented technologies. Now when Qvevri will be acknowledged by UNESCO as unique national property there will be legal grounds to better protection of Qvevri name.

“Registration of Qvevri technology at UNESCO is very important for the world will learn that Qvevri wine-making descends from Georgia. We want it to make clear that Georgia is cradle of Qvevri and rule out any other opinion, and UNESCO is one of the key tools to this end. And after we will have a legal point we can claim for Qvevri protection anywhere. Today Qvevri technology exists on verbal level lacking any legal grounds and once been documented and sealed by UNESCO Sakpatenti can demand of all Qvevri wine producers to indicate that their wine is made on Georgian Qvevri technology, “Eka Egutia, Deputy Head of Sakpatenti, said.

Tina Kezeli, Head of Wine Association of Georgia, also thinks that UNESCO recognition including just 200 names in its list can be even better protection than patenting itself and will once more make the entire world understand that Georgia is the place that gave birth to wine actually.

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