World Market Calls for Novelty, And Georgia Has It!
10 May, 2012


Recently, a group of foreign journalists from Poland and Czech Republic, specializing on wine coverage, visited Georgia. This fact awakened our interest to learn more about the current situation in the sphere of wine-making. This will most probably interest our reader, especially considering the fact that Georgia is believed to be the cradle of wine and the word wine itself derives from the Georgian corresponding word ‘ghvino”. Georgian Journal  talked to Mrs. Ia Janashia, Deputy Minister of Agriculture who speaks about

the visit and the overall situation in Georgian wine-making.

G.J: What are the current statistics – how many foreign countries does the Georgian wine enter?

I.J: In 2011, the export of Georgian wine was carried out to 51 countries. It is an interesting dynamics as in 2010 our wines were sold only in 42 countries. I think, the tendency of growth is more than clear. Correspondingly, the overall volume of export of bottled wines has increased – the respective data of 2011 exceeds that of 2010 by 9%.

G.J:  Recently, Georgia hosted the journalists from Poland and Czech Republic who specialize in wine. As the saying goes, good wine needs no brush, but still, what kind of resonance did the visit have in the foreign media?

I.J:  At this stage, 10 articles have been written in Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in the Internet publications and blogs which are haunted by wine lovers. Besides, some articles are waiting to be published in some quarterly editions for the coming summer. This is a very important strategy planned with the goal to make propaganda of Georgian wine; its results are already evident.

G.J: What is the index of Georgian wine export to Poland and Czech Republic nowadays?

I.J: This year, in Poland the index of export of Georgian wines increased by 60%. As for Czech Republic, the identification of its market happened much later. Respectively, Georgian Ministry of Agriculture actively cooperates with Georgian companies in order to get access to it and we can possibly expect the results of these attempts by 2013.

G.J: Presumably, this was neither the first nor the last visit of foreign journalists to Georgia under the aegis of your office. To the best of my knowledge, the ministry plans to keep on such events in the future as well. Is that right?

I.J: This was not their first visit. With the intention to popularize Georgian wine, the Ministry of Agriculture has outlined an active agenda. One of the parts of this schedule is to invite foreign journalists and wine-bloggers together with Sommeliers and wine experts, who will provide the consumers of various countries with the information about the sorts of Georgian wine, their uniqueness, diversity of species and wine-making technology. Our aim is to inform not only experts and sommeliers but also those concrete individuals on whose taste and choice the actual sales of products depend. With this intention, three groups from 7 different countries visited Georgia this year. The ministry will carry on arranging such visits in the future as well to get more and more people all over the world informed about Georgian wines. It is worth noting that the popularization of wine as of the original part of Georgia also promotes the country as a whole. This is essential from the perspective of developing the tourism potential too. Therefore, we cooperate with all governmental institutions  during organizing of such events.

G.J: President Saakashvili once said that in spite of the damage that the Russian embargo caused to the Georgian economy, it also gave a boost to enter new markets. Do the statistics share this pathos?

I.J:  Before the Russian embargo, Georgian wine was sold at 37 countries. Today, as I mentioned above, we have 51 export countries. However, these figures don’t make the only difference. It is also important that 90% of exported wine was going to Russia that means that the export market of Georgian wine was completely undiversified. Such situation badly affected the quality too. The Russian embargo, we may say, has contributed a lot to the development of Georgian wine. We can say that in the short-term perspective it was a heavy blow for the local producers; however, current situation indicates that this shock became the main impulse for diversification and returning to the old, most precious wine-making traditions.

G.J:  It is a fact that export must exceed  import. Most probably, Georgian wine is one of those rare products that meet this rule. What can you say in this respect and which are those countries Georgia import wines from?

I.J: Georgia is not a great importer in this respect. There is moderate amount of wine that enters the Georgian market, mainly based on particular orders from Armenia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and other countries. However, we can still cite some figures here. If in 2010 the imported wine reached 178 thousand liters, the same index in 2011 fell to 134 thousand liters. If we consider the tendency of growth of export, we can say that the balance of export-import is really positive. The local demands are totally met with local products. This is a very positive fact and once more proves that wine is an inseparable part of our identity. This is also the reason why foreign wine trademarks are less interesting and attractive for Georgians.

G.J: Which are the most popular types of Georgian wines and in which countries are they most popular?

I.J:  I can provide you with the statistical data on market-leader companies according to the quantity of bottles exported. The top five of the last year looks like that: Tbilghvino, Telavi Wine Cellar, Tifliski Vino Pogreb, Badagoni and Teliani Valley. The highest sales are in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, China and Poland.

G.J: Georgian wine is really an interesting phenomenon. What are the Ministry’s future plans in the direction of wine production?

I.J: The Ministry of Agriculture actively cooperates with Georgian wine producers and together with them, outlines the action plans for the promotion of Georgian wine brand names and entering new markets. Our marketing strategy is quite aggressive and implies a number of events – including the engagement of Georgian wines into prestigious international fairs and competitions or organizing days of Georgian wine in different cities of the world, as well as inviting foreign journalists or holding active promotion campaigns. We invite traders, owners of restaurant and shop chains, and all those people who have something in common with wine business in order to present the Georgian wine to them and more importantly, ensure them in its uniqueness and particularity. Furthermore, we work to create the whole brand name for the Georgian wine and offer the market the whole product that is unique with its colorful breeds, history and ancient and diverse traditions of their making. Those European wines that are ample in the world market are already becoming boring. There is a demand for a novelty, different tastes. This is the asset of Georgian wine – novelty and distinctiveness. We are regularly meeting with Georgian wine makers to get to know their topical issues and problems and later on act together to eradicate these obstacles.

G.J: As far as I know, a year ago a Wine School was opened in Tsinandali, Kakheti region. Please, tell us about this undertaking.

I.J: Tsinandali Wine School was opened in 2011, with the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, on the basis of Georgian Wine Institute and with the support of Silk Road Group. There, high school students attend the lectures by the professors invited from various universities, get acquainted with the history of Georgian as well as world wine, learn about different brands of wine, art of degustation. They also take tests in viticulture, wine-making and wine marketing. Together with theory, they also attend practical lessons, during which the adolescents watch the process of wine making and bottling. When we talk about the popularization of wine, this automatically implies the necessity of sufficient skilled staff in this sphere. Tsinandali School was created for this purpose. In the future, master’s degree program is planned to be included in it too. It will be supported by the California University.