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Georgian Wine History

Georgians considered the wine a holy drink. In the 4th century St. Nino, enlightener of Georgia, came to Georgia from Cappadocia with a grapevine cross entwined with her hair and after her activities Georgians accepted Christianity in 326 AD. The Grape and the vine thus hold important places in Georgian symbolism.

Georgia The Cradle of Wine

Georgia has an 8,000 year history of continuous wine making tradition, which is evidenced numerous archaeological discoveries. Georgians have shared the love for the grape the time immemorial and remains loyal to it through to modernity. Numerous artefacts related to wine making practices dating back millennia are kept in Georgian museums. It’s been a long time since people began to talk about Georgia as the Cradle of Wine Civilization. The earliest traces of viticulture and cultivated wine, which date back to the 6th -5th Millennia B.C. were found in the ancient Neolithic settlement-Shulaveri Gora. In the neighborhood of that territory archaeologists found the remains of cultivated wheat and legumes, agricultural tools and pottery, proving that in the Neolithic period, the inhabited humans developed agricultural activities including cereal growing and viticulture. The fragments of clay wine vessels found during excavations of the settlements testify the fact that as early as the Neolithic period there was an already well-developed stage of agriculture, indicating that people started the domestication of the vine on the territory of Georgia even in the earlier period.

FIRST PIPS

Wine history springs from the Neolithic period and the most vivid trace of this was uncovered here in Georgia. Archaeologists discovered several grape pips of ancient millennia in Kvemo Kartli, to the south of Tbilisi, in the Marneuli Valley, in the place named “Dangreuli Gora”. In accordance with morphological and ampelographic features, they then assigned the pips to a cultivated variety of grapevine, Vitis Vinifera Sativa. It became clear that relationship between man and grapes started as early as the 6th millennium B.C and the first cultivated vine was encountered in Georgia.

ANCIENT Qvevri

The Qvevri vessels and the ceramic vessels dating the Neolithic era were discovered during different archaeological excavations, as were the cultivated vine fossil seeds, tartaric acid sediment on the fragments of earthenware vessels for wine and resin of the domesticated grapevine. The diversity of the wild and indigenous grape varieties, the unique wine vessel (the Qvevri) and the oldest technologies of making wine by Qvevri all confirm that Georgia is truly an ancient wine making country.

A ceramic vessel for wine found in Didi Gora believed by scientists to be an ancestor of the Qvevri which deserves the greatest attention. Currently, it is exhibited in the National Museum of Georgia and is considered the world’s oldest wine vessels.

With the spread of Christianity, vineyards and wine in Georgia gained even greater importance as wine transforms into blood of Christ at Holy Liturgy. St. Nino appeared in Georgia with a cross tied with vine branches who further enlightened Georgia with the gospel of Christ after it was preached by St. Andrew, Christ’s disciple to the extent that it became the State religion in 337 AD. Wine for the Holy rituals has always been made in large quantities in monasteries which old cellars (Marani) still remain in many monasteries. Georgians often donated wine to the church. This wine is called “Zedashe”.

Wild grapevine Vitis silvestris is still spread throughout Georgian territory. 525 Georgian indigenous varieties are a legacy of our viticulture. Of those, around four hundred thirty are protected in various state and private collection vineyards.

What is so special about Georgian wine

Qvevri was the first vessel ever to be used in winemaking, with archaeological finds dating back 8000 years.

The majority of linguists agree that semantic of the word “wine” is rooted from Kartvelian languages. The root “ghv,” from word GHVINO (wine) is purely Georgian and is found in many Georgian words from ancient times to the modern period. In other languages: Kartvelian “GHVINO” > vino, vin, wine, вино etc.

Georgia’s ancient traditions and its wine culture are entwined with the country’s national identity. Wine is deeply entwined in the everyday life and culture.

As proof of its cultural significance, and in accordance with principles of Convention on Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, the status of National Monument of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been assigned to “The ancient Georgian tradition of Qvevri winemaking”.

Georgia – one of the ancient countries of the world with uninterrupted tradition of viticulture and winemaking.

South Caucasia is recognised to be the source of the world’s first cultivated grapevines.

The Vitis Vinifera grape originates from South Caucasus.

Georgia is the only country in the world where winemaking methods that were developed up to 8000 years ago have not only never been abandoned, but remain in many ways best practice.

Registered more than 1000 Georgian Wine Companies,Making of “Home-made wine” is still in practice by Georgian families.

Georgian wine fields:
The crop approximate 250 – 300 thousand of tones.
Export, approximate 100 Million Bottles (0.75).
Vineyards – 55 thousands of hectares.
Production of wine 2 mln hl.
Consumption of wine per capita – approximate 25 liters.

“… in Georgia everyone, including a worker and a prince, drank wine with average daily consumption of five bottles per resident…”

Jacques Francois Gamba
The French Consul in Tbilisi, 1820

SAPERAVI KINGDOM:

It can be said with confidence that the past and the future of Georgian winemaking are founded on this very varietal. Saperavi is a Georgian red grape variety, spread throughout all the viticulture districts Kakheti and almost all the regions of Georgia. The culture of making wine from Saperavi today is blooming in Georgia. One can encounter a diversity of wines made from Saperavi-fermented in Qvevri or oak, of various appellations and terroirs. High quality dry red wines are made of Saperavi with high aging potential. It is used for naturally semi-sweet and wonderful rose wines as well.

TSINANDALI:

The micro-zone is situated in Telavi district on the right bank of Alazani River. Vineyards are mainly located within 300-750m above white wines. It is also evidenced by the fact that according to a low from the 1920’s, on the basis of which wines were renamed and given numbers, Tsinandali was called № 1, while Saperavi was №5. Tsinandali sea level. The climate is moderately humid, with hot summer and moderaly cold winter. The main soil types are: loess-type, carbonate, alluvial-proluvial and delluvial origin clay and detritus layers. Tsinandali is made of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane Kakhuri (85%- 15%). Tsinandali is the flagship of Georgian

PDO:

Divided into sub-appellations, it is home to 14 of the 18 Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs), such as Tsinandali, Gurjaani, Vazisubani, Manavi, Kardanakhi, Tibaani, Kakheti, Kotekhi, Napareuli, Mukuzani, Teliani, Kindzmarauli, Akhasheni, Kvareli. Among Georgian wines Kakhetian wine expresses soil properties most of all.

Mukizani – is a dry red wine. It is characterized by a dark pomegranate color, full bodied taste, harmonious, velvety, delicate, well-expressed variety specific aromas and bouquet, and high-extract flavors. It is made Saperavi grape variety. The micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, Gurjaani district, on the right bank of the Alazani River gorge.

Napareuli – are dry white and dry red wines. The white wine is made of Rkatsiteli and the wine is light straw-colored, with a well-defined bouquet and wild flower tone. The red wine is made of Saperavi and distinguished by dark red color, varietal specific aroma, velvety with well-developed bouquet. The micro-zone is located in the upper part of the Alazani River, on the left bank.

Kindzmarauli – is a naturally semi-sweet red wine. The wine is characterized by a dark garnet red color, harmonious taste with full, velvety, delicate, pleasant sweetness, fruit tones and varietal aroma. The wine is made of Saperavi grape variety. The micro-zone is located in Shida Kakheti, Kvareli region.

Kvareli – is a Dry Red Wine. It is characterized by dark red color, varietal aromas, balance and a distinctive bouquet. It is made of Saperavi grape variety, with complete fermentation with the must. The micro- zone is located in Kakheti, Kvareli region, on the left bank of the Alazani River.