“Georgia – Homeland of Wine”, A 8000-year-old history of Georgian winemaking – from the Neolithic period to the 21th-century Japan
11 April, 2019
“Georgia – Homeland of Wine”, A 8000-year-old history of Georgian winemaking – from the Neolithic period to the 21th-century Japan
“America gave the world aviation, Germany gave the world car, Britain – internet, but Georgia’s contribution was much more profound and important - Georgia gave the world wine”, said the presenter of the famous TV series Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson after tasting Georgian wine.

The beginning of Georgian winemaking goes back to two Neolithic villages in Georgia. Telltale chemical signs of wine in the pottery jars, discovered in Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, the
capital of Georgia dates back 5,980 BC. The discovery confirms that Georgia is the country where the earliest evidence of grape wine-making was found.
Our ancestors began to grow wild grape vines 8000 years ago and over the years, the traditional wine-making was established. Despite bloody wars, chopped down vineyards and the struggle for existence over the centuries, our country was able to maintain the tradition. You can hardly find a Georgian family who’s not boasting about their homemade wines.

Georgian wine has always been at the center of global attention due to its unique characteristics and 8000-year history. In 2014, the National Wine Agency of Georgia supported by the Georgian government launched international research involving multiple fields. Representatives of the world’s 7 leading research institutions together with Georgian colleagues were engaged in the research work. They revealed the results in 2017. The research participants unanimously recognized Georgia as the birthplace of wine. The recognition has brought further popularity to our country. The continuous, as well as the unique tradition and culture of Georgian winemaking, have given the world something to talk about.

One of its examples is the project “Georgia – Homeland of Wine” which commenced on the 10th of March. During the project, the famous English wine writer Andrew Jefford has read a lecture on the Georgian wine – “Why is the Georgian wine important?”

Ambebi.ge has spoken with the head of the National Wine Agency of Georgia Davit Tkemaladze about the purpose of “Georgia-Homeland of Wine” and its planned events.
georgia homeland of wine
What has been the result of the project “Georgia – Homeland of Wine” taking place in Japan?

It is a little bit early to talk about the results but it is obvious that the project has been successfully commenced. The exhibition opened by the Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze attracted a lot of people’s attention in Tokyo. The project has been followed by a positive wave of response from the Japanese Press. The project will take place until the 6th of May. Before it comes to an end, there are various important and interesting events planned. The positive response from the media and public is one thing and the economic benefit in the wine industry is another thing which is soon to be improved.

Why did you decide to launch such a project and how was it realized?

The project is based on an extensive scientific work which had been progressing over 4 years to end in 2017. The research united leading scientists from 7 countries to work on an archeological material. The work was initially started by Georgian archeologists. The project was coincided with the important scientific recognition of Georgia being the birthplace of wine. The recognition has been followed by a wave of international response. Georgian wine along with the culture, traditions, and history of the country have been given a chance to be globally popular. The recognition has turned out to be a new and interesting experience for the entire world. We need to attract the world’s most important centers in order to elevate the image of Georgia and to diversify international markets for the wine industry.
What is the aim set by the National Wine Agency’s project?

First of all, I must admit that the success of the project was ensured by the involvement of a number of state agencies. Their contribution is very valuable.

Importance of the project was fully assessed by the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia and they supported us on every level to implement it. Involvement from the National Museum was very important in both of the projects – in Bordeaux and in Tokyo. Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Sakpatenti are agencies that contributed a lot in the project.

I must admit our successful cooperation with the Georgian Wine Association. GWA plays a crucial role and is virtually co-organizer of the project.

Project “Georgia – Homeland of Wine” helps to raise awareness about Georgia and show the country from the positive side. Apart from the economic benefice, it is important from a touristy point of view. Georgian National Tourism Administration will hold an event called “Georgia – Road of Wine” in Tokyo within the framework of the project.

All these help to develop the winery and wine sector in Georgia and to increase wine export from the country. Japan is interested in this direction and development of the project addresses this interest.

How much are the Georgian wine companies interested in the project? In what level do the Georgian companies answer to standards of both the Asian and the European market?

There are represented 20 Georgian wine companies on the exhibition: Askaneli Brothers; Corporation Georgian Wine LTD; Dugladze Wine Company LLC; Vaziani Company; Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking; Telavi Wine Cellar; TBILVINO; Teliani Valley; SESIASHVILI CELLAR; Shalvino LLC; Wine Company Shumi; LLC WINERY KHAREBA; Teleda/Orgo; Tsinandali Estate; TRADITSIULI; JSC Chateau Mukhrani; Kapistoni; Qimerioni; Georgian Wines & Spirits Company – GWS და Matrobela Wines.
Wine production has significantly improved in Georgia in recent years. Market requirements have changed, competition between companies has increased and consumers have changed as well.

Accordingly, we do not have to speak about low-quality wines or suspicious production. Of course, there can be some unforeseen accidents. For the Georgian Wine Agency control of quality is the number one priority, so that these unforeseen accidents are excluded, especially when the wine is made for export and stakes are so high. It is very pleasant, that the quality of the wine is equally important for both large and small wine companies.

In France, Bordeaux, and Japan, Tokyo, what do consumers think about the Georgian wine?

Georgian winemakers participate in around 30 large and high profile wine exhibitions annually and their participation is organized by the National Wine Agency. After tasting the Georgian wine, be it on a professional or amateur level, specialists always stay excited with wine. As for the sales, France is a very conservative country in this regard – the French market feels surplus of its own production and it is hard to enter there. Nevertheless, we still achieve success in France.
In which countries does the National Wine Agency plan to popularize Georgian wine?

Exhibition in Tokyo ends on the 6th of March with the presentation of the Georgian “Supra” (Feasting). The popularization of Georgian cuisine is an important part of our project that makes it more attractive. So there is a number of books and articles being written in Japan about the Georgian cuisine and wine.
According to the specifics of the different countries and markets, we follow different marketing events there. We plan advertising campaigns to popularize Georgia wine. The more time passes, the more international companies become our partners and cooperate in the popularization of the Georgian wine. As for the countries where we will take our project are South Korea, the USA, and China.

The National Wine Agency together with the Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources Protection and of Agriculture of Georgia are making every effort to represent the Georgian wine to their markets at its best. It is believed to be possible in 2-3 years time.

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BBC about Georgian wine: “What we offer is our uniqueness, our grape varieties, and qvevri wine, our history”

Georgian female winemaker on Forbes' 2019 30 Under 30 Europe list

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