Georgia is home to 525 unique grape varieties. In turn, they yield distinct, delicious wines. The world has no need of another Chardonnay or Merlot. Traditional Georgian wine is not made with well-known grapes, nor by well-known methods. Instead, unique indigenous grapes together with pain-stakingly exact processes create delicious wines found nowhere else. White Rkatsiteli, and Mtsvane; red Saperavi and Tavkveri are enough to begin with! Georgia is known for its amber wines, produced by handling white grapes as if they were red, leaving the skins and seeds with the fermenting juice.
Our tour will exclusively feature Organic Wines, made according to time-honored Georgian traditions in clay Qvevri. Before glass or wooden barrels, there were clay vessels, and the Georgians have preserved this ancient wine-making technique, perfecting it in millennia long past. Numerous recent articles have showcased scientists’ confirmation that viticulture originated in Georgia, yet only a small fraction (3%) of Georgian wines are made traditionally, retaining their uniquely delicious traits that long ago made them famous throughout the Old World. Soviet collectivization and zeal for increased production wreaked havoc with ancient wine-making techniques; what the Soviets didn’t destroy, global capitalism has co-opted, enticing many vintners with foreign investment in modern high-yield wine-making, in oaken styles familiar to Western consumers. But throughout, the eternal inheritance of winemaking endured, enjoying a renaissance in recent years as Western adherents of authentic traditions and slow food movement realized those values reverberate throughout the Republic of Georgia. Hidden away even there, to be sure, but treasures which can be uncovered by those willing to undertake the quest.
Writing on the Republic of Georgia, the doyen of traditional wine-making, Alice Feiring, quotes Henry Nevinson’s 1920 book People of All Nations: Their Life today and Story of Their Past :
“The chief product was wine. The country seems to run with wine. The grapes are squeezed in primitive presses, cleaned with boughs of yew, and the juice run off into huge earthenware vats sunk in the ground, and big enough to hold a man, for when fermentation is finished and the wine drawn off a man gets into the vat to clean it out. The wine is usually poured into tanned buffalo skins, which are laid upon narrow wooden cars and driven slowly along the mountain roads, joggling as they go.”
Cars and trucks have replaced horse carts, and wineries use glass bottles rather than animal hides – but little else has changed for the few remaining traditional wine makers. It is why the Qvevri tradition has earned UNESCO Cultural Heritage recognition and protection, and why purest wine lovers throughout the world seek out the rare, varied nectar produced in Georgia.
Rustic Simplicity Mingled with Modern Luxury
Qvevri-made wines go back thousands of years, but your accommodations and transportation will be luxurious. Along with great strides in recent years preserving age-old traditions, Georgia has modernized its infrastructure and boasts high-quality hotels. As befits a country only recently trending as a tourist destination, the best accommodations are small, intimate establishments, catering to an exclusive clientele. Qvevri Wine Tours has sought these out, guaranteeing their quality and service.
Georgian cuisine, long celebrated for its unique flavors at the crossroads of the Christian and Muslim worlds and a way-station on the Spice Road, has enjoyed a renaissance along with Georgian wine. Which is only natural – for to Georgians, what is a meal without wine, or wine without food & fellowship? Your meals will be locally-sourced and prepared by some of the finest chefs in Georgia, who combine innovative techniques and professional presentation with age-old recipes. Georgia has many unique cuisines, but at the top of the list are its cheeses. Found no where else, each isolated mountain valley has its own artisinal cheese-making traditions, as rarefied as Georgian wine. The winemakers will pair each vintage with appropriate dishes to delight your palette and enhance your enjoyment.