Georgia is one of the few places, and possibly the oldest, where grapevines are domesticated. This is evident in the presence of dozens of native grape varieties whose origins have been lost over time. Clues can also be seen in the methods of vinification, involving the use of large terracotta jars (kvevri), or amphorae, that are buried to allow fermentation and subsequent aging of both white and red wines.
This method can be found all over Georgia, with slightly differing practices according to local traditions. In the north of the country in Imereti, for example, wines are put in amphorae without their skins, whilst in the area of Khakheti, fermentation and aging are carried out with skins added.
The use of buried amphorae gets the most out of the various pedoclimatic conditions of the country and grape varieties. It ensures winemaking is completely natural, boosts primary sensations and enhances diverse characteristics.
Unfortunately this method is at risk: There are large winemaking cooperatives, created at the time of the Soviet Union when Georgia was the main wine producer for the rest of the country and who survived the Soviet Union’s collapse. These cooperatives prefer more productive grape varieties, including "international" ones, and practice conventional agricultural methods. Furthermore, the kvevri are produced by local artisans, following methods dating back to the origins of wine growing, whose numbers are rapidly decreasing because young people are not willing to accept the long apprenticeship and poor financial rewards. If action is not taken, this fascinating and ancient method of winemaking risks disappearing within a few years.
Kakheti, Imereti, Kartli, Guria regions
Presidium supported by
Cammino Autoctuve Association
Ramaz Nikoladze - village Nakhshirgele
Gaioz Sopromadze - village Bagdati
Amiran Vephkhvadze - village Zestaponi, village Kldeeti
Gogita Makaridze - village Terjola
Didimi Maghlakelidze - village Dimi
Region of Kakheti
Soliko Tsaishvili - village Kardanakhi, village Bakurtsikhe
Tariel Bakhia - village Anaga
Nikoloz Antadze - village Manavi
Aleksi Tsukhelishvili - village Alvani
Kakha Berishvili - village Artana
Region of Kartli
Iago Bitarishvili - village Chardakhi
Region of Guria
Zurab Topuridze - village Dablatsikhe