After archaeologists in Georgia found traces of old pottery shards dating back to 6000 BC, the country claimed the crown as the world’s oldest wine producer. Wine fermentation in clay pitchers, called qvevri in Georgian, is one of the oldest winemaking methods in the world and was given the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Wine is an integral part of Georgian culture and intimately related to the identity of the Georgian people. Four main attributes form a strong bond among locals: their patriotism, unique language, religion and wine.
For centuries, invaders tried to destroy Georgia’s wine culture, for they realized it gave strength to the people. Sweets made from grape juice provided energy to soldiers on the battlefront, and an oft-told legend relates how soldiers wove a piece of grapevine into their chain armor, so if they died in battle a vine would sprout not just from their bodies, but their hearts. Saint Nino, the enlightener of Georgia, arrived holding a cross made with vine branches. The main decoration found on Georgian churches is vine branches, and one of the most popular songs in the country, Shen Khar Whenakhi (You Are The Vineyard) is dedicated to wine. The sight of old men tending their grapes, eyes filled with warmth and admiration, speaks volumes about the importance of wine in Georgia.
Start your tour by visiting Kakheti, Georgia’s wine capital that produces 70 percent of local wine. The towering Caucasus Mountains and beautiful Alazani Valley provide an ideal environment for winemaking, so it’s no surprise that almost every family here has a wine cellar. Kakheti is the best place to get acquainted with ancient traditions and sample famous local wines such as Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Mtvane and the king of Georgian wines, Kindzmarauli.
In Kartli Region, often referred to as The Orchard of Georgia, wine has a fruity taste while in Racha, a beautiful region high in the mountains, the wine is sweeter and has rich aromas of flower bouquets. Racha’s Khvanchkara wine is one of the most famous sorts in the country.
If you want to combine your love of delicious wine with tasty food, beautiful nature, ancient monuments, warm hospitality and old traditions, a Georgia wine tour is an ideal choice.