FOOD & WINE:

Viticulture and Winemaking of Georgia
Internet: All About Georgian Wine

Viticulture and winemaking are the most important traditional fields of Georgia`s agriculture. The history of vine culture is inseparable from the history of the Georgian people. the greative nature and deep iove for the grapvine and wines of georgian people are expressed in culture, traditions and in the fields of art, such as: architecture, ornament, chasing, painting, poetry, singing and others.
Georgia is considered as one of the oldest place of producing the top-quality wines in the world. That is proved by the variety of the wild and cultural species of vine, also by ampelogeographical, paleobotanical, historical, archeological, ethnical, phylological, linguistical and other scientific reserches of georgian and foreign researchers.
There are over 4000 vine varieties in the world. over 450 species of local vine are bred in Georgia, from which 62 sorts are put in the standart assortment including 29 wine species and 9 table ones.
The most famous high standart sorts of Georgian vines are: Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, Mtsvane, Khikhvi, Kisi, Chinuri, Tsolikouri, Tstska, Krakhuna, Alexandrouli, Ojaleshi, Chkhaveri, Aladasturi and others.
While archaeological excavutions in Georgia on the territory of Mtskheta, Trialeti, Kakheti, inside Kartli, Vani etc. different agricultural things were discovered. Among them were wine cellars with huge “KVEVRI”. (widemouthed earthenware jars in which wine is matured and stored), wine bowls made from gold, silver, bronze and clay manufactured in the third or second millenium B.C.
the culture and traditions of vine-growing and grape-vine consumption, techniques of making dry, natural semi-sweet, dessert and sparkling table wines, sorts of “Kakhuri” and “Imeruli” ones created by the Georgian people are product of centuries.
After spreading Chistianity by the disciples of Iesus Christ –Andrew Pirveltsodebuli and Simon Kananeli, wine has taken part in the church-rituals. That was prove after finding wine-vessels while archaeogical excations in the areas of chrches.
Not only the local species of vine are cultivated in Georgia, but also the foreign sorts as – Aligote, Pino, Shardone, Kaberne Sovinioni, Shasla and Khalili, found the second mother land here.

Geographical location of Georgia`s Viticulture

Georgia is situated on the boundary of Asia and Evrope. Georgia`s viticulture is between 41007′-43035′ north latitudo and 40005′-46044′ longitude in the middle and west parts of Caucasus Mountains between the Black and the Caspian seas, which offers diversity in climate and creates ideal conditions for the development of original, high-quality viticulture and winemaking.
Georgia is divided into two makro-zones according to the differences of conditions for viticulture on the territory of the country: Western Georgia and Estern Georgia.
The climate in Estern Georgia varies from subtropical to mild continental and in Western Georgia it is most subtropical because of its nearness to the Black sea.

Estern Georgia:
– Kakheti (inside and outward kakheti)
– Kartli (below, middle and upper kartli)
Western Georgia:
– Imereti (below, middle and upper kartli)
– Racha-Lechkumi
– Most-subtropical zone of the Black Sea: Guria, Adjara, Samegrelo and Abkhazia

Uploaded on June 11, 2007 by Dato Gelashvili

Kakheti

Kakheti is the oldest and unique viticulture-winemaking region in Georgia. It is divided into two zones: inside and outward Kakheti. There are about twenty-five mikro-zones, where wines are produced under the names of their original places, such as: Tsinandali, Napareuli, Teliani, Akhasheni, Mukuzani, Kindzmarauli, Gurdjaani, Kardanakhi, Tibaani, Manavi, Khashmi and others. 60-65 % (percent) of vineyard of Georgia come from Kakheti. Industrial vineyeard is cultivated in the ponds of the rivers Alazani and Iori at 400-700 meters above sea level on brown forest, brown meadow, grey-brown, humus-carbonate, black earth and alluvial soils.
The klimate is mild in Kakheti. The annual average heat summation is between 35000C and 42000C. The average precipitation is within 400-800 mm and the duration of sunshaine is about 2000-2200 hours.
Producing high quality red, white, dry, naturally semi-sweet and sweet table wines is the principal direction of viticulture in Kakheti.
European type white, high-quality table wines are produced from local, unique grape varieties such as: Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Khikvi, Kisi and oters in micro-zones of Tsinandlai, Napareuli, Gurdjaani, Manavi etc.
red dry, high quality table wines with pleasant aroma are made from Georgian original red vine – Saperavi – in micro-zones of Kindzmarauli, Teliani, Akasheni, Mukuzani, Khashmi, etc.
In Kakheti only in the micro-zones of Akasheni, Kindzmarauli and Mukuzani they produce naturally semi-sweet red wines named affer their oroginal places. The local mikroclimate, soils and the ability of Georgian red vine – Saperavi to accumulate much sugar and acid, stipulates the harmonious, mild, velvety, cheerful tones and specific qualities of wines.
the native type of table wine in Kakheti, the one, which is quite different from other wines is the product of centuries. This is the only dry original wine in the world. It is distinguished for its high extraction, fenol admixtres and tannin, for its pleasant bucket, speual aroma and taste and what`s the most importans, this sort of wine is rich in biologically active substances – that`s so useful for health.

Kartli

Kartli is the crodle of Georgian culture. It is famous for its classical, european type, high standard table wines and high quality sparkling ones. Kartli is divided into three zones: bellow, middle and upper Kartli – called Meskheti. The vineyeards are cultivated along the rivers – the Mtkvari, the Liakhvi and the Ksani- on 450-700 meters abovesea level – on brown, alluvial, greybrown and humus-carbonate soils.
The klimate is mild continental. The average heat summation measured in “degree-days” is between 30300C and 41000C, annual precipitation equals 370-700 mm, the duration of sunshaine is about 2100-2500 hours.
Below Kartli is the best zone for producing table grapes and raisins.
Middle Kartli is the most interesting zone among the other zones in Kartli. It is famous for producing classical european type and top-quality sparkling wines. The speaking wine “Atenuri” is named offer its original place as it is produced in the goge of Ateni from the grapes: Goruli, Mtsvane and Chinuri. according to the traditional technology. High quality white and pink table wines have been produced for ages from the sorts of grapes such as – Budeshuri, Tavkveri and other local species as well as from Goruli Mtsvane and Chinuri.
It is important to notice that the gorge of the Ksani (Mukhrani lowland) is famous for its French type of grape Aligote – which provides the best high-standard wine-materials for producing european types of table and sparkling wines.
In upper Kartli – on the territory of Meskheti the viticulture and winemeaking has not an industrial character. Archaeological excavations (cellars, barrels, cups) show that viticulture and winemaking has quite developed here but for a long time (2,5 centuries). It had been under the political influnce of Turkish policy and the islamite religion forbade usung wine. That caused destroging of vineyeards and durung the period of Russian tsarism in Georgia nobody cared about growing the wine.
Since thirties of the twentieth cenury Georgian Scientific Research Institute has regularly been making special researches in this region and has come to the conclusion that producing of the europena types and sparkling wines from Goruli Mtsvane, Chinuri, Khikvi and other georgian sorts grape is very long-range. French grape varieties such as Pino and Aligote has shown the best results.

Western Georgia

Imereti

According to the quantity of production in viticulture and winemaking Imereti is the oldest and the most important region of Georgia. Imereti is divided into three zones: bellow, middle and upper Imereti. The vineyeards are cultivated in the gorges of the rivers: the Rioni, the Chkerimela, the Dzirula and their tributaries – on 50-500 meters higness above sea level – on humus-carbonate, grey, yellow and podzolic soils.
The klimate is rather damp, temperately cold with dry hot summer and snowy winter. The annual heat summation is on the average between 32000C and 41000C. Annual precipitation equals 1200-1500 mm, the duration of sunshaine is about 1200-2100 hours.
The main characteristis of viticulture and winemaking of Imereti is the great variety of local species of grape and high quality table wines.
In upper Imereti they mainly produce soft sparkling winematerials, soft european type white and red table wines from the local species: Tsitska, Tsolikouri, Krakhuna, Dzvelshavi and other sorts of grape.
Middle Imereti is considered to be the principal zone of viticulture and winemaking in western Georgia. Here the vineyards located on 140-470 meters above sea level. High quality original white, red and pink table wines are produced from the local species: Tsitska, Tsolikouri, Aladasturi, Krakhuna, Dzvelshava and others named after their original places.
On the basis of century – old traditional technology of producing wines they created original technology of winemaking quite different of others. The difference includes the following: Alcoholical fermetation of the grape-juce is carried out inside the buried vessels on “durdo”(“chacha” without stems), that contains 4-6% of the whole fermenting mass. After having fermented they keep the winematerial in the vessel for 1,5-2 mounths, then withdraw from “durdo”, place into the barrels and keep futher treating according to the instruction. The wine created such way is more extractive and full-bodied than european wines, at the same time it is soft, harmonious and aromated with pleasant taste.
Below Imereti is located in the west part – in the basin of the river Rioni. Here the vineyards are cultivated on 40-420 meters above sea level. They considere this place the original zone, where in different regions high quality wines are produced from the local grape varieties.

Racha-Lechkumi

Racha-Lechkumi is distinguished from the vineyards of other zones and mikro-zones of Western Georgia for its unique and original wines.
It is the cradle of naturally sweet and semi-sweet wines. Racha-Lechkumi is located to the north of Imereti – in the gorges of the rivers: the Rioni, the Tskhenistsakali and the Lajanura. It is surrounded by rocking hills that makes particular micro-climate and difanes the characteristic qualities of wines. The vineyards are growvn on 600-800 meters above sea level.
The climate is rather moist. The soils are humus-carbonate because of the limestones and carbonate sandstones.
On the south slopes of Racha which are sunny and surrounded by rocky hills, local sorts of wines, such as: Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli are grown. There species are distigiushed for high sugar content (28-30%). They are used for making the original naturally sweet red wines known under the name “Khvanchkara”.
The climate of Tvishi provokes the high sugar cintent and acidity in the grape varieties such as – Tsolikouri – that is isud for making naturally sweet white wine “Tvishi” named after the original place.
In Zubi-Okureshi microzone of Lechkumi the unique naturally sweet red wine is produced from the local wine type “Usakhelouri”, that is famous for its aroma and plesant taste and is known by the name of “Usakhelouri”. Naturally sweet red wine “Orbeluri Ojaleshi” is produced from Orbeluri – Ojaleshi and is named after its local place.

Adjara, Abkhazia, Guria, Samegrelo

Viticulture and vine-growing of these regions is situated along the black Sea coast from 2-4 meters (in Abkhazia) up to 800 meters (in upper Adjara) above sea level.
The climate is subtropical and moist – that is why the vine has a long period of vegetation (till the of November).
The soils are humus-carbonate, grey, yellow eard, red earth and podzolic.
From local vine type such as Chkhaveri the sparkling wine Chkhaveri is produced in the microzones of Guria (Bakvi-Askani, Partsma-Sachamiaseri), Adjara (Keda), Abkhazia (Gudauta).
In the micro-zones of Salkhino-Targamouli and Bandza in Samegrelo region from local grape variety such as Ojaleshi, naturally semi-sweet and dry wines are produced under the name of “Ojalshi”.
It’s well-known that a French man Miurat who was the son-in-law of a megrelian landlord sent the wine “Ojaleshi” to Paris on the international-tasting competition, where it was rewarded with the highest prize.
In Abkhazia one of the oldest parts of Georgia from grape varieties such as Tsitska, Tsolikauri, Chkhaveri, Tsabela, Ojaleshi, Kachichi and others are produced the original wines under the name of Apsni, Likhni, Achadara, Anakopia and others, which are very popular among the customers.

* * *

Since thirties of the twentieth century Georgia has begun a new period of developing viticulture and winemaking. The new vineyards have been cultivated, wine producing got the industrial character, developed the scientific-practical work – that created the best conditions for developing this field.
In eighties the area of vineyards was over 150 thousand hectare, about 500-700 thousand ton grapes were produced in the factories. The great part of this production was sent to the countries of former Soviet Union and a particular one was exported to the foreign countries.
The hard political and social-economical conditions in nineties and the wars in Abkhazia and Samachablo – seriously damaged Georgian viticulture.
In the last few years the legislative base was created for development of this field and it attracted foreign investors. Cultivating of vineyards was began, wine industry was equipped with material-technical base of modern standards. The process of making the unique Georgian wine was renewed conditions for business development.
Leading wineries in Georgia producing wines are: ”Georgia’s wine and sprints – GWS”; ”Telavi – wine cellar – TWC”. ”Sameba”, ”Tbilgvino”, ”Vaziani” and other companies (it’s imposiible to mention all of them). They’ve got material technical base of modern standards which stipulates the high quality of production. Besides the oldest Georgian traditions, they use modern technological achievements. These companies sell their production on the markets of Russia, the Ukraine, Baltic countries, Japan, USA, Holland, etc.

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