A year of extremes
Georgian vine growers and wineries are nearing the end of Vintage 2021.
The growing season was marked by extremes. Winter was cold, with snow in many regions. Frosts, however, were not a widespread problem. The cool weather persisted into early Spring. Summer was sunny, hot and dry, and the vines made up for the delayed start to their development. Picking therefore took place around the usual dates, with good ripeness reported.
Hailstorms at the end of August caused damage and even entire crop loss in parts of Kakheti, prompting the authorities to set up support programs for the large community of vine-growers.
In a nutshell
- A return to normal yields after the low yields of 2020
- However, August hailstorms damaged vineyards in the key region of Kakheti
- Ministry introduces subsidies to support farmers hit by August storms
A return to normal yields
As of the 9th September 2021, 58,000 tons of grapes had been processed in Kakheti, Georgia’s biggest wine region. On the same date in 2021, the figure was 15,000 tons.
This initial wine harvest data underlines the importance of wine to the rural economy of Georgia. The harvests of more than 5,000 individual growers are included in these figures; their combined income from growing wine grapes in 2021 was 50 million GEL (12 million £).
Rkatsiteli grapes comprise 58% of the harvest so far, at 34,200 tons. The red Saperavi account for 18,000 tons (31%). The remainder of the harvest is comprised of small quantities of other varieties.
The authorities set up and run a Vintage Coordination Headquarters in Telavi to manage the huge operation of inspecting, processing and accounting for the individual harvests of the grape growers. A further objective is to ensure the rapid processing of grapes to maintain quality.
This year’s harvest is the culmination of a year marked by significant hailstorms in Kakheti at the end of August 2021. More than 4,600 hectares of vineyards were affected, in the important wine municipalities of Gurgaani, Telavi and Kvareli. Some growers lost their entire crop, and are eligble for a compensation payment to ensure their viability. Further measures put in place include the purchase by the state-owned “Crop Management Company Ltd” of hail-affected grapes for alcoholic distillation. Wineries can also apply for a subsidy to purchase grapes at a minimum price set by the authorities, so as to protect the livelihood of the growers.
In other wine regions the harvest is ongoing, with picking in the mountainous regions likely to extend (as usual) into November.