Georgian vintners proud of their ancient winemaking tradition
24 November, 2017
Georgia looks back to a century-old tradition of winemaking.

Recently, the discovery of the oldest evidence of winemaking found close to Tbilisi has yet again brought up the subject that Georgia might be the birthplace of wine. In order to get insight into Georgia’s winemaking culture, we pay a visit to Kakheti, in Eastern Georgia, a region famous for its wine tradition and beautiful vineyards. Winemaker Shalva Jamaspashvili and his wife Khatuna take us to their vineyard in Manavi where
they started planting vines 14 years ago.

The vineyard is located miles from the main road. In order to get there, we take a bumpy road and pass shepherds with their dogs until we reach a human-sized cross. Shalva and Khatuna Jamaspashvili brought the cross here to protect their vineyard. They are convinced that it has helped them achieve better harvests.

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Shalva and his employee are cutting the last grapes.

By now, very few grapes remain on the vines. The summer is ended and the grain-cutting is passed. Nonetheless, it is impressive to see that, what started as a hobby 14 years ago, has grown into a business. By now, Shalva Jamaspashvili and his employees cultivate 12 hectares of vines to produce red Saperavi wine.

Viticulture has been in Shalva Jamaspashvili’s family tradition for a long time. His ancestors used to make wine but moved to the city at the end of the 19th century. The family tradition inspired him and his wife to plant their own vineyard. Shalva Jamaspashvili is an engineer and taught himself how to make wine. In the beginning, it was hard work to cultivate the land but this work has become his passion. In the future, he wants to build a house here to be on site more often. The way Shalva Jamaspashvili speaks about his wine, it becomes apparent that the product is his pride. He claims to care about his vineyard the way he cares about his own children.

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Grapes are not just fruits to Georgian winemakers, wine not just a drink.

It is for these reasons that Shalva Jamaspashvili freely admits that he is proud of the latest discovery. He has long been convinced that winemaking lies in the genes of Georgian people. “History tells us that we were the first winemakers”, he says.

The winemaker speculates that the new study could make Georgian wine even more popular: “Everyone who loves wine and for whom this drink is something special will now look at our products with a different kind of appreciation.”

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The Saperavi wine of Shalva Jamaspashvili is sold in hotels in Tbilisi.

Before we leave, Shalva Jamaspashvili and his wife insist on offering us a glass of their wine. Thereby, they not only demonstrate the good quality of Georgian wine but also the famous hospitality of the Georgian people.

Author: Simone Herrmann

Related stories:

Scientists about oldest wine traces discovered in Georgia

Oldest evidence of wine-making found near Tbilisi

Popular American magazine on the evidence of world's oldest grape wine discovered in Georgia

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