BBC about Georgian wine: “What we offer is our uniqueness, our grape varieties, and qvevri wine, our history”
01 March, 2019
BBC about Georgian wine: “What we offer is our uniqueness, our grape varieties, and qvevri wine, our history”
Georgia is believed to be the birthplace of winemaking. Telltale chemical signs of wine in the pottery jars, discovered in two Neolithic villages (called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia) dates back 5,980 BC. Previously, the earliest evidence of grape wine-making had been found in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and dated to 5,400-5,000 BC.

Now Georgia boasts more than 500 varieties of indigenous grapes, some of them are not found
anywhere in the world. They include Rkatsiteli, Kikhvi, Kisi, Tsitska, Saperavi, Ojaleshi, Aleksandrouli, Mujuretuli, Aladasturi, etc.

BBC has recently published an article about Georgian wine entitled “Can Georgian wine win over global drinkers?”. The author Natalia Golysheva gathered Georgian winemakers Koka Archvadze, Irakli Cholobargia, and Gia Piradashvili as well as a wine expert Lisa Granik to discuss its global growth prospects.
kakheti
Kakheti located in the east of the country is the main wine region

“While Georgia has always prided itself on its large number of indigenous grape varieties when part of the USSR from 1922 to 1991 the Communists dug up many of the treasured old, but low-yielding red and white vines. They did this so as to replace them with high-volume vines so they could make mass-produced wines.

When Georgia gained its independence there was a big effort to increase the propagation of the older varieties.

Then in 2006, with Russia buying 95% of Georgia's wine exports, Moscow banned their importation. Georgians believed the ban was a political attack in retaliation to the pro-Western policies of the then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.”

Due to unique grape varieties, Georgian qvevri wine has a distinctive flavor. The flavor can be attractive to many people abroad but as the wine expert admitted it can be found weird as well. She added that Georgian wineries do not usually include sulfur dioxide in their bottles and consequently, the wine cannot withstand traveling. However, as a lot of people in the west are bored with the same types and are looking for something wild, natural and ancient Georgian wine can soon become very popular among them.

qvevr is a large clay fermentation vessel, used for storing and aging traditional Georgian wine. The vessel is buried in the ground. The process of making wine in qvevri involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks and pips into the qvevri.
koka_archvadze
Koka Archvadze, deputy director of the Tsinandali estate

“Although Russia repealed the embargo in 2013, Georgia now exports its wine to 55 countries. And while Russia is still its largest export market, its share has fallen to 62%. It is followed by Ukraine at 12%, China 8%, and Kazakhstan 4%. Overall exports last year were 18% higher than in 2017.”

Georgia produces 300 million bottles a year. The country cannot compete with France, Spain, Chile or South Africa in its production size but it can offer drinkers the uniqueness of the Georgian wine, its grape varieties and the history of qvevri wine. Georgian winemakers aim to establish wine in Western Europe, North America, and Asia.

Related stories:

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

Georgian wine and how to look after vineyards

The Calendar of Georgian Winegrowers

Washington Post about Georgian wine on Mars and Chakrulo
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