The beauty and cultural richness of Georgia is finally gaining Western recognition – and not a moment too soon. Tbilisi’s appeal is providing an important opportunity for Georgian winemakers to get their wines in front of multi-cultural, multi-national consumers. That’s why we were so excited to see Tbilisi featured in an article in The Sunday Times Style listing four can’t-miss holiday destinations.
Visitors to Tbilisi are on the cusp of the most established wine country; the most widely known wine region in Georgia – Kakheti. A two hour drive through the winding Gombori pass takes visitors from Tbilisi to Kakheti’s main town, Telavi. This is the perfect base for an exploration of the Alaverdi Monastery (famous for having produced more than a thousand vintages), and the tongue-twisting grapes which populate this wine country. You can read more about this atmospheric journey through the mountain pass here.
Kakheti encompasses nearly 70% of Georgian vineyards, producing 80% of the country’s total wine. What makes the region so perfect for wine production? Sharing a border of the Caucasus Mountains with Russia and Azerbaijan, these mountains provide cool breezes which flow south over the vines in the main growing area of the Alazani Valley. This makes it possible to grown melons and pomegranates next to grapes.
In a country steeped in winemaking history Kakheti has the distinction of developing the distinct winemaking process which is now generally associated with all Georgian wine: qvevri. This process is vital for the production of some wines in Kakheti, but the region is also home to a staggering 14 of Georgia’s 18 PDOs. These include:
- Tsinandali PDO: located on the right bank of the Alazani River, the wines must be a white blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane Kakhuri
- Kindzmarauli PDO: producing naturally off-dry reds
- Mukuzani PDO: a micro-zone on the right bank of the Alazani River, the wines are full-bodied, pitch-dark wines made from Saperavi