Georgian Grape Varieties

Georgian grape names are nearly always descriptive of their appearance or flavour, reflecting the historic widespread viticulture of the country. Georgia has at least 500 native varieties, but most were almost wiped out during Soviet times, when consolidation and efficiency replaced the naturally diverse, regional and individualistic Georgian wine culture. Today, around 45 varieties are commercially produced, but the Georgian government is on a mission to save and reintroduce the old grapes. In summer 2014, the National Wine Agency started by giving over 7000 plants of ‘obscure’ varieties to growers around the region, and this had steadily increased over subsequent years.

White Grapes

Mtsvane Kakhuri

This name means “green Kakheti,” and is usually called simply “Mtsvane” (Green). Mtsvane Kakhuri is one of six different Mtsvane that grow throughout Georgia, each with a different DNA fingerprint,…

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The origins of Khikhvi’s name are unknown, but it grows widely in eastern Georgia, especially in Kakheti it originated. Most plantings are on the East-Southeast reaches of the province, on…

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Iv. Javakhishvili, an early 20th Century historian, argued that Chinuri’s name derives the old Georgian word “chini” (reddish-green), but commentators now contend it comes the Georgian word “chinebuli” meaning “excellent”…

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Rkatsiteli means “red stem”, and is the sturdy workhorse of white grapes in Georgia. It is cultivated throughout its native Kakheti, and in Kartli. Rkatsiteli is disease resistant, and ripens…

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Goruli Mtsvane

Not to be confused with the Mtsvane Kakheti, this “Green Gori” has a variety of alternative names and synonyms. Commercially, however, it is labelled consistently as Goruli Mtsvane. The variety…

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Krakhuna is indigenous to Imereti in western Georgia – the name means “crispy” in Imeretian dialect. It is grown in the central part of the province, around Sviri, Obcha and…

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Grown throughout upper and central Imereti, Tsitska means “variety with small grapes from the village of Tsitske or Tstiskiuri.” (Iv. Javakhishvili ). By current standards, however, the grape is of…

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Red Grapes

Otskhanuri Sapere

Otskhanuri Sapere means “Otskhana’s colourful.” Otskhana is a village in western Georgia. One of the oldest Georgian varieties, Otskhanuri Sapere grows only in the western part of the country, mostly…

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The name means “powerful” and this high-quality grape was once the prize vine of Guria until plantings were lost to phylloxera. In the early 20th century, using a low training…

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Meaning “vine with a black cane,” Shavkapito originated in Kartli, in eastern Georgia. Its medium-sized, conical bunches typically have wings and moderate density. The round, medium-sized berries are round and…

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This red grape, evocatively named “hammerhead,” for the flat top of the bunch itself, is indigenous to Kartli but also grown in Kakheti. Tavkveri grows well in deep clay and…

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Another vine named for its presumed origin (the village of Aladast, in Guria), Aladasturi vines were widespread throughout central Georgia but were largely wiped out by phylloxera. Originally trained to…

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A western Georgian variety, Chkhaveri is mostly planted near the Black Sea coast in Adjara and especially in Guria, but also in Imereti. Chkhaveri originally was a “maghlari” wine, a…

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One of Georgia’s oldest vine varieties, Ojaleshi, means “growing on a tree” in the Megrelian dialect of Georgian (ja=tree). It was the dominant variety in the mountainous district of Samegrelo…

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Saperavi means “something to colour with,” or “to dye”. A very old variety, Saperavi is Georgia’s most widely planted red grape, with 10% of all plantings throughout the country (over…

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The indigenous “vine of Alexander,” Aleksandrouli has been nurtured for a long time in the mountainous hillsides of Racha-Lechkhumi in western Georgia. Long thought to be a completely distinct variety…

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Mujuretuli is, with Aleksandrouli, best known as forming the other half of the cult partnership that is Khvanchkara. Like its relative, it is largely cultivated along the Rioni River in…

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Literally, the “grape with no name,” Usakhelouri is indigenous to western Georgia. Early 20th century historian Javakhishvili noted it was name for a village of the same name that was…

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With thanks to:

Georgian Amplelography, N. Ketskhoveli et al.
Wine Grapes, Js Robinson, Harding, Vouillamoz
D. Maghradze
L. Uzunashvili
N. Tsertsvadze (2012)