What product is Georgia most famous for? Right, it’s high quality wine. Right after Borjomi water or maybe before… Anyway Georgian climate and landscape is a perfect condition to grow grapevine. Some say that it’s Georgia where wine was invented thousands years ago.
So what is the best time to visit Georgia because of wine? Wine you can try anytime but September- October give the possibility to witness the harvest.
The most famous for wine region of Georgia is Kachetia. It’s east from Tbilisi. 100 km away from Tbilisi is situated its capital Telavi. Views on the way as always beautiful.
In this part of country the harvest might start even at the begining of September. It’s very sunny and grapes ripen very fast. At the beginning of September we found on the streets trucks full of grapes going to factories to sell their fruits.
In front of local factories there are lines of hundreds of trucks, tractors and other vehicles. All full of grapes, mostly dark, small but very very sweet grapes.
The whole work in the factory starts in the evening when the fruits are picked and loaded on trucks. So in the peak season they dont sleep at night for weeks. Despite so much work Georgians will always find some time and attention for others. We were let to the factory and shown the process of receiving of fruits!
When in Kachetia they are having hard time working, west from Tbilisi farmers are still waiting for the friuts to ripen. They might start harvest even in the middle of October. By that time they are happy to welcome visitors.
To learn about the history and wine production we took a guided tour in Chateau Mukhrani winery.
This is a vinery factory owned by multinational group of people. Indeed a good place to learn about wine because although they currently don’t use traditional Georgian way of production, they have an exhibition that lets familiarize with it.
They offer guided tour including testing of 4 wine types for 35 lari, unless you are a brestfeeding mother/ driver and pay 20 just for the tour.
Chateau Mukhrani owns 100 hactares of vineyards, carefully planted and looked after.
One of their secrets is cuting bunches of wines if there are too many on one plant to provide each little grape maximum benefit from the soil and from the sun. Those that were cut lie under the bushes.
Although they produce wine in modern way, they are planning to set up production in old Georgian tradition. For the time being we can see old kvevris exhibited in the castle’s cellars. Kvevri is a storage vessel, a jar which was used for wine production.
That Georgian production method involves puting grapes and juice together to those kvevris buried underground so that only the hatch was visible. Process is controlled with the usage of special tool on the stick used for getting the wine out of kvevri.
Continuing the tour we were taken to the cellars where the wine matures in oak casks.
We finished with tasting of 4 main types of Mukhrani wines. Fast, as Ola and mom got only to smell the glasses. Tasting and the whole tour is well prepared, everything is very professional, well arranged with fluent English speaking guide! It was pleasure to visit them.
But real adventure waited for us few kliometers further, near the city of Gori. Following the signs of wine route we arrived to the village Ateni Sioni. Not without problems of course. We got totaly lost in Stalin’s town – Gori. Local men asked by driving mom for direction turned out to be very helpful, right after asking „Yhy, ok, where is somebody to whom I can explain?” Probably only man was a partner to talk. Finally we reached the village of Ateni.
And found a house tagged as Old Wine Cellar. House was closed, nobody aroud, silence. While Ola was eating her dinner in the car, dad went to look around. It didn’t look from the road like there was anything going on in the neighborhood. We were just dissapointed and getting ready to leave when we saw somebody going out of home. And that’s how we met Temur, a head of family and the owner of the old wine cellar. In the first way he took us to his vineyard. Suddenly we found ourselves under a roof of grapes. It’s the first time we saw vines growing this way. The impression was amazing, as far as eye can see there were all grapes hanging from the vine. Following housholder we entered to this magical land.
Straight from the yard we went to the barn, a small museum of Georgian wine manufacturing art. All items gathered there have been used by their ancestors as this family has lived there for generations. After seeing all exhibits and souvenirs we landed at the table, acompanied by other family members.
Table was full of traditional Georgian homemade food: bread, cheese, pickled cucumbers and fresh friuts straight from the garden. And of course that thing that led us there – wine. Also homemade, red and white. And together with that our host turned into real georgian tamada – a toastmaster. How many times we raised our glasses, we cannot remmeber. We drank to us, them, babies, women, men, Georgians, peace, love and so on. Finally we were even offered chacha, local homemade vodka, or more than vodka cause 60%! Dad took it with dignity but not without some difficulties.
Of course Ola was the one who attracted the most attention. She had to be carried and loved all the time.
The tradition of drinking in Georgia says that, after the toast, one has to drink whole glass at once. That’s because in the past animal horns were used as glasses and there was no way to put it aside without emptying it first.
After finishing all wine on the table and discussing everything that came to our minds we left previously being given apricots, couple bunches of grapes and of course another bottle of wine.
We have to addmit that wine was not particularly tasty but the atmosphere we found there, Temur’s and his wife’s hospitality and warm welcome made this night unforgetable. That was the most true experience we’ve had in Georgia so far. This night was incredible, however dad’s next morning wasn’t easy…