Georgia’s wine industry is fascinatingly diverse. Large estates and corporations – some of them with aristocratic histories – export impressive volumes of ‘European Style’ wines and Chacha (Georgian eau de vie) across the nations of the former Soviet union.
Tiny and owner-run wineries – some new, others 5th generation – focus on artisanal production of Qvevri and natural wine for hip restuarants and wine bars in Tbilisi, New York and London. It is tempting to depict Georgian wine industry in terms of these extremes, but the reality is more nuanced. The strong identity and emotional appeal of the Qvevri and natural wine movement has captured the appeal of influential markets, invigorating the more established estates.
Old reliance on exports to Russia – which provided reliable volumes but modest quality incentive – has diminished. In recent years, a new wave of smaller producers using both Qvevri and European methods has broken, with an uncompromising focus on top quality at premium prices.
In the meantime, the big producers have continued to raise quality and reliability as they have had to turn to non-Russian markets. The quality and reliability of these wines – and their good value – has led to several listings with household UK names, including Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.
The producer profile of Georgia is that of a healthy, vibrant wine sector, with a variety of wines suited to every UK channel and audience. Georgian wine producers include wineries that are part of multi-national conglomerates, producing several million bottles a year, and fiercely independent natural wine makers producing just a couple of thousand. The uniqueness and character of the Georgian wine personality is undiminished.
Expanded profiles of Georgian wine producers are coming soon.