The newest importer in the Georgian Wines UK stable, Proper Natural Wine isn’t your average wine company.
Its founder, Lucy Hewitt, is a relative newcomer to the wine scene with a ‘real’ 9-5 job working as a Creative Producer for Condé Nast. Receiving her first palette of wine only in July 2018, Lucy recounts how she fell in love both with Georgia, and with the country’s wines:
“I took time out to travel in 2017 and Georgia was high on my hit list. I spent a month there in July 2017 and totally fell in love. When I first landed in Tbilisi I headed straight to Vino Underground and ordered a glass of their favourite natural amber wine. It was Nikalas Marani’s Kisi. The next day, I found Zura on Facebook and asked if I could visit his cellar and hear more about his winemaking. A few days later I made my way out to Kardenakhi – a small village in the famous wine region of Kakheti and we drank his beautiful wines and ate Georgian food. He said I could come back for harvest so that September I did!
From Zura’s I then did harvest with Enek Petersen and then stayed in Georgia for three months getting to know the wine scene better. I was meeting as many winemakers as possible and tasting my way through the native grapes, regions and winemaking styles to get a deeper understanding of the special wines. When I saw there wasn’t much in the way of natural Georgian wine in the UK, I decided to import.”
Proper Natural Wines is hardly unique in its exclusive focus on natural – that is, no or low-intervention and estate-bottled – wines. However, its boutique championing of Georgian wine is refreshingly new. Lucy has experienced good business in her first year of trading, a fact which she puts down to an increasing consumer interest in knowledge of Georgian wines. “People love the amber and red wines from Georgia,” she says, but “there is still some education to be done as lots of the flavours are new for us over here – not to mention pronouncing the native grape varietals!”
Lucy trades mainly at Netil Market in Hackney as it’s a great way to talk direct to customers about the wines and Georgia. “I also sell to bars, restaurants and wine stores that have a focus on natural and unique wines. [They’re currently stocked in] Berber & Q, Sager + Wild and Hop Burns & Black to mention just a few”.
Proper Natural Wine currently works with four top-drawer producers: Nikalas Marani in Kakheti (whose Kisi was the first Georgian wine Lucy ever tasted!); Dasabami in Kartli; Lapati in Sagarego and Archil Guniava in Imereti. We’re sure she’ll be adding more exciting producers to her portfolio soon.