Introduction

By Paul Caputo

Georgia, along with Armenia is widely considered to be the cradle of wine making; viticulture artifacts for pruning, pressing and fermenting found here can be traced back 7000 years. Throughout empires, Assyrian, Roman, Persian, Byzantine and the even under the Soviet Union, wine has been integral to Georgian cultural life. Wine making knowledge was handed down through generations, accompanied by stories that turned to legends. Whether inspired by the country’s 4th century conversion to Christianity and the inherent symbolism of wine in the Holy sacraments, or whether because wine holds a place on a more human level, that of the farming man growing his survival, it would be true to say that wine, food and hospitality are the pillars of Georgian society.

The story, like many other wine stories of antiquity involves the accidental and unexpected fermentation of grape juice. Here however, that took place in what has become known as the quintessential Georgian way, buried underground in clay pots known as Kveris. This unique, artisanal method of wine production was perfected over the centuries, passed through the family and pursued as a badge of family pride. From wild vines came high quality wines cultivated on the rich, fertile slopes of the Caucuses Mountains.

Although the most recent chapter of wine production in Georgia paints a fairly depressing picture, crippling stagnation under the shadow of Soviet hegemony and chronic underdevelopment have meant that Georgia has been left behind in the 20th century. With virtually no commercial wine scene to speak of, other than the low quality state owned bulk wine heading to the communist north, the country was simply off the vinous map.

Regions of Georgia

Ajara

Ajara is a largely unknown wine region in Georgia.

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Guria

Guria is one of Georgia’s smaller wine regions but still produces some interesting examples of Saperavi.

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