Georgian wine with an antique flair
For wine connoisseurs, Georgia and viticulture are two terms that cannot be separated: Georgia is the country of origin of independent viticulture. And the country on the Mediterranean still lives up to this name: There are many ancient, traditional grape varieties that are vinified into wonderful wines in traditional processes and after the harvest by hand. The planting of vines, the care of the vines and the production of wine from the grapes of Georgian vines, as well as the production of various delicacies such as grape juice, churtchela, pickled vine leaves and verjus are essential parts of Georgian traditions. In this post we take you to the origins of wine making in Georgia and tell you the most important information about Georgian wine!
Georgia: the cradle of wine
Wine has played an important role in medicine, rituals, agriculture and human nutrition since ancient times and is a valuable economic and trade good: Wine is therefore one of the oldest cultural assets of mankind.
The country of origin of the wine is the South Caucasus region and particularly Georgia, where viticulture has been a tradition for more than 8,000 years. Geologists were able to find tools for making wine, which probably date from the 3rd millennium BC. In ancient times, Georgia was considered the center of viticulture and was extolled in many historical writings and named as the land of wine. The people many years ago are not wrong: Georgia has climatic and geological conditions that are very suitable for viticulture. There are around 500 old grape varieties in Georgia, almost all of which are grown in Georgia. Of 10,000 grape varieties worldwide, over 500 come from Georgia! Georgia is the birthplace of wine and the cradle of our fine wines due to its traditional and long history of viticulture!
Quevri World Heritage Site: Traditions in Georgian Viticulture
The traditional Georgian method of making wine in the typical clay pots called Quevri has been classified as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO since 2013. This method works like this:
The grapes are usually pressed in a long barrel with a tree trunk or a stone made of clay or lime. Here they are trampled and squeezed with the feet or with the help of a roller mill. The remaining juice is stored together with the mash in the huge clay amphorae, the kwewri. These amphorae are buried underground and only the head of the large vessel protrudes from the ground. Thus the amphora is stabilized and cooled naturally. A Quevri traditionally has a capacity of 10 to 100 liters, but large wineries also have amphorae with a capacity of up to 2000 liters. The amphora is sealed with wood, slate, damp clay or ash. The round shape of the amphora allows the natural fermentation yeast to circulate better and the porous clay ensures the necessary exchange of air for ideal maturation of the wine. The wine is now stored in the Quevri for up to 50 years, which can be buried anywhere in nature. The Georgian amphorae are considered to be the best preserved clay handicraft, showing a high level of craftsmanship and artistic quality in terms of size, quality and aesthetics. Quevri style amphorae can be found throughout the Mediterranean.
The wine-growing regions and grape varieties of Georgia
In Georgia there are 18 internationally protected growing areas, after which many of the grape varieties and wines produced are named.
Due to its protected location south of the Caucasus, Georgia has ideal geological and climatic conditions for ideal grape growth. There are four different wine regions: Kakheti in the east, Kartlien in central Georgia, Imereti in the west and Ratscha-Lechkhumi in the northwest of the country.
The largest vineyard is in Kakheti, the center of viticulture. Here every farmer is a winemaker and every household has a wine cellar. The famous Kahtian country wine is still produced here in clay kwewris and only shows its unique, tannin-rich properties after three to four months.
Particularly unique wines are produced in western Georgia: the structure of the landscape and the different mineralogical consistency of the soils influence the growth of the vines. Even on two adjacent slopes or fields, very different wines can be grown here, depending on which part of the slope receives how much sun. Moderate rainfall, the southern exposure and an extended ripening period produce grapes with a high sugar content. The grape varieties grown here are often demanding and require the right care.
The red grape varieties in Georgia include Saperavi, Shavkapito, Alexandrouli, Usakhelouri or Mujuretuli, which are often mentioned as a good alternative to the typical Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. White wine lovers are not neglected either: Georgia also has alternatives for Riesling, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris: for example Rkatsiteli, Krakhuna or Tsolikouri. In Georgia, according to old tradition, it is forbidden to blend wines with one another, which guarantees the purity of the varieties and growing areas.
In addition to these unique traditional grape varieties, internationally known grape varieties are also grown in Georgia.
Try Georgian wine
If you are curious now and would like to try Georgian wine, we have the right thing for you. On our website you will find a selection of special natural wines from Georgia, which have been produced traditionally and with the environment in mind. Let yourself be enchanted by the Georgian wines!