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Georgian Wine in Jars

Georgia

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 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 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 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 large terracotta jars 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.

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 with 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 nonexistent, and the jars are buried underneath shelters in the open. In 2011, the Kartli region, which borders the region of Kakheti and is famous for its wines, joined the Presidium. The producers have now joined Kvevri Wine, an association aimed at promoting and enhancing 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 onsite 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 further 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, Guria regions

Technical partner
Cammino Autoctuve Association
Region of Imereti
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
Presidium Coordinators
Solomon Tsaishvili
Tel. +995 99 117727
solomonza@yahoo.de

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

 


 
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