Georgia is considered the cradle of winemaking, with its history in viticulture dates as far back as prehistoric times. Today, a few wine growers in this former USSR Republic continue to follow an ancient technique that has not changed for thousands of years and is unique in the world. This method produces traditional wines by using a long period of maceration inside closed kvevri, large terracotta jars that are completely buried for a few months.
However, this extraordinary tradition is being used less and less and is gradually disappearing together with the craft and knowledge of building the terracotta jars.
In 2008 Slow Food launched a Presidium with producers still practicing this ancient technique in the wine growing regions of Kakheti and Imereti. Since 2009, the project has been supported by Cammino Autoctuve, an Italian association of wine growers from the Maremma region in Tuscany and the Tuscan archipelago. Cammino Autoctuve supports and safeguards the local winemaking traditions and grape varieties.
The Tuscan association has been involved in various activities to support the Presidium. In 2010 for example, they decided to dedicate the production of a special wine to the Georgian project: Local grapes from vineyards in Maremma and Isola d'Elba were used to produce a unique wine, and the bottle sales went towards the project.
In a few days time, from July 25-31, Cammino Autoctuve will send a group of technical experts to Georgia: Marco Stefanini, a renowned oenologist and experienced consultant, and Ugo Lucchini, an agronomist from the Acquabona farm on Isola d'Elba, will spend a few days in the Kakheti and Imereti area, where they will visit the producers and study their techniques, working rules and product features.
Local producers and their extraordinary work cannot be supported without ensuring a lively business for them. It is key to improve the sales of their products by updating production techniques, without distorting the qualities of the traditional product, and always respecting the practices and cultural heritage that these wines safeguard.
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