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Georgian Wine in Jars - Slow Food Presidia
 

Georgian Wine in Jars

Georgia

Georgia is one of the places, and possibly the oldest, where grapevines were domesticated. Evidence of this is the presence in a relatively small area of dozens of native grape varieties whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Clues can also be seen in the methods of vinification, involving the use of large terracotta jars which 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 jars without their skins, whilst in the area of Khakheti, fermentation and aging are carried out with skins added.
The use of buried terracotta jars enables the various pedoclimatic conditions of the country and grape varieties to be optimally expressed. It ensures winemaking is completely natural, boosts primary sensations and enhances varietal characteristics.
Unfortunately this method is at risk: the larger winemaking cooperatives-created at the time of the Soviet Union when Georgia was the main wine producer for the rest of the country and which alsosurvived the Soviet Union's collapse-use modern technologies, prefer more productive grape varieties, including "international" ones, and practice conventional agricultural methods. Furthermore, the large terracotta jars are produced by local artisans, following methods dating back to the origins of winegrowing, 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.

The Presidium was established in 2008 with an initial visit to producers from different geographical areas. Following this, two production areas were identified. The first is Khakheti, the most traditional and suitable production area, which has the best facilities. The second, Imereti, is located to the east and is completely different. Here the wine is essentially produced for family consumption and cellar facilities are very limited, in some cases non-existent, and the jars are buried underneath crude shelters in the open. In 2011, Kartli region, which borders the region of Kakheti and is famous for its wines, joined the Presidium. The producers have joined Kvevri Wine, an association aimed at promoting and enhance Georgian Wine in Jars
The Presidium was created to help winemakers produce a wine that can be bottled and commercialized, by providing basic winemaking and storage facilities.
Through the advice of a local enologist and training sessions, both on-site and in Italy, the producers have improved the quality of their wine and have learned to use sustainable techniques. Today the Presidium producers are expanding their businesses and recovering abandoned vineyards. In addition, to increase the sustainability of their production, the producers have begun using the grape skins to make the local spirit chacha.

Production area
Khakheti, Imereti, Kartli regions

Technical partner
Cammino Autoctuve Association
Presidium Coordinator
Solomon Tsaishvili
Tel.
+995 99 117727
solomonza@yahoo.de

Ramaz Nikoladze
Tel.
+995 93944841
georgianslowfood@yahoo.com

 


 
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