6 zones of Georgian winemaking and varieties according to regions – Facts all wine-lovers must know
18 September, 2017
6 zones of Georgian winemaking and varieties according to regions – Facts all wine-lovers must know
Diverse climatic conditions of Georgia make it a perfect area for developing a high-quality winemaking industry. According to this diversity, the country is divided into the following zones and micro-zones:

Kakheti. Sub-zones: Inner Kakheti, Outer Kakheti
Kartli. Sub-zones: Lower Kartli, Inner Kartli, Higher Kartli
Meskheti;
Imereti. Sub-zones: Higher Imereti, Middle Imereti, Lower Imereti
Racha-Lechkhumi. Sub-zones: Racha, Lechkhumi
Black Sea coast. Sub-zones: Adjara, Guria, Samegrelo, Abkhazia

Kakheti is the main region when it comes to
Georgian winemaking. Vineyards that give some of the country’s best wines are located in the basins of Alazani and Iori rivers, 400-700 meters above sea level, on the humus-carbonate, black and alluvial soils. Out of 18 registered varieties of Georgian wines that carry the name of the source region, 14 are produced in Kakheti: Tsinandali, Gurjaani, Vazisubani, Manavi, Kardenakhi, Tibaani, Kakheti, Kotekhi, Napareuli, Mukuzani, Teliani, Kindzmarauli, Akhasheni and Kvareli. Besides, among local and cultivated varieties, the following ones should be mentioned: Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, Mtsvane Kakhuri, Kisi, Khikhvi, Budeshuri Tsiteli, Kakhuri Mtsvivani, Sapena, Kumsi Kviteli, Cabernet Sauvignon (French variety), Tavkveri, Ikaltos Tsiteli, etc. Out of grapes cultivated in Kakheti it is possible to make a high quality wines made using Georgian traditional as well as European technology.
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Kartli is another distinct winemaking region, which is well-known for its high-quality classical European-type and sparkling wines. The vineyards are cultivated 450-700 meters above sea level, on the banks of Mtkvari River and its tributaries, Ksani and Liakhvi. Kartli, as well as other Georgian regions, is particularly characterized with its aboriginal species, among them: Chinuri, Goruli Mtsvane, Budeshuri Tetri, Tavkveri, Shavkapito and Saperavi. There are also rare varieties, like Chklapa, Andreuli, Aragvispiruli, Grdzelmtevana, Melikuda, Chroga, Kharistvala, Dzelshavi. Apart from local varieties, there are foreign ones as well: Aligoté, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnais, etc. In Karlti, much like in Kakheti, traditional as well as European technology is well developed. One of the registered varieties that carry the name of the source region is produced in Kartli and it is Atenuri.
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Imereti is one of the most diverse regions in terms of winemaking. Its many climatic zones have various soil compositions, which make the varieties of wines produced here very different from each other. The species cultivated in Imereti are: Tsolikouri, Tsitska, Krakhuna, Kvishkhuri, Dzelshavi, Aladasturi, Dondglabi, Bazaleturi, Kundza, Otskhanuri Sapere, Argvetuli Sapere, Rko, Adanasuri, Bzvanura, Shavi Dondglabi, Vanis Chkhaveri, etc. Here, much like in other Georgian regions, traditional winemaking is linked to the kvevri technology. It is a clay vessel of different sizes, which is used for wine fermentation and aging. In Imereti it is also called churi. Unlike the technology spread in Kakheti, Imeretians add only a very small amount of pressed grape skins. After fermentation, the wine is kept in churi for at least two months, then moved to the barrels and processed. Imeretian type of wine is of a very beautiful yellow color, full, meaningful, harmonious and joyful. Imereti is famous for Sviruli Krakhuna , Obchuri Tsolikouri and Kvalituri Titska.
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Racha-Lechkhumi region stands out for its small territory and rare, unique varieties of vines: Alexandrouli, Mujuretuli, Tsolikouri, Tsulukidze’s Tetra, Dzelshavi, Usakhelouri and Orbeluri. Racha zone covers big part of Ambrolauri municipality (where the vineyards are cultivated in the Rioni River gorge) and the most important sub-zone of lower Racha – Khvanchkara. Asfor Lechkhumi, its main micro-zones are: Tsageri, Orbeli, Alpana-Tvishi and Zubi-Okureshi. The most famous wines of this region are Usakhelouri and the ones that carry the names of source region –Kvanchkara and Tvishi. Tvishi’s climatic micro-zone affects the Tsolikouri with high acidity and it is from these grapes that naturally semi-sweet Tvishi is made. Orbeli’s Ojaleshi is also to be mentioned, which is very different from Megrelian wine of the same name, with its ampelographic characteristics.

Adjara, Abkhazia, Guria and Samegrelo are parts of one, Black Sea coast region, where the vineyards grow as low as 2-4 meters above sea level, reaching 500 meters in some places. The climate is sub-tropical here, even largely humid and wet in some areas, which is the reason why the vines here are characterized with a long period of vegetation.
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Guria-Samegrelo region is probably one of the most ancient winemaking areas in Georgia. The first sources that reached us from antique period are from Kolkheti Kingdom. This region stands out for its unique culture of setting up a vineyard. Until 19th century, the vines here were exclusively planted on high ground. The most famous historical varieties are: Chkhaveri, Jani, Mtevandidi, Skhilatubani, Aladasturi, Sakmiela, Ojaleshi, Godaaturi, Chvilituri, Chechipeshi, etc.

Abkhazia is also considered one of the historical winemaking regions. The vineyards are cultivated here 400-800 meters above sea level. However, powdery and mildew has very much harmed this region. Local varieties are: Amlakhu, Avasikhva, Kachichi, Agbizhi, Akabili, Absuazhi, Lakoazhi, Khapshira, Khunalizhi, etc. Apart from local varieties, Tsolikauri, Ojaleshi, Chkhaveri and Krakhuna are cultivated here.

Adjara is mostly famous for its tea plantations, but recently old varieties of vines have been revived here. Out of historical species, several must be mentioned: Brola, Khopaturi, Klarjuli, Mekrenchkhi, Butko, Kviristava, Shavshura, Jineshi, Satsuravi and Batomura.
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