The wine world has definitely acknowledged that Georgia is the official birthplace of wine, so we were quite excited to get to the epicenter of viniculture in this fascinating country. The region of Kakheti is ground zero for Georgia’s industry, so a visit to that region was imperative. The road to Kakheti was flanked by vineyards filled with trellised vines heavy with ripening fruit. With the beautiful Caucasus Mountains in the background, it would be hard to find a more picturesque scene.
It’s hard to believe that there is evidence that Georgians were making wine as far back of 8000 years ago. But what distinguishes the Georgian method from the rest of the wine production methods is the Georgian Quevri technique. This method of winemaking has actually spread to other quarters in the wine world. It seems that those espousing the old world methodology that has been practiced in Georgia for millennia are teaching a thing or two to the new world winemakers.
The word Quevri actually means “buried in the ground” and that is the cornerstone of the Georgian way of making wine. The Quevri, a clay amphora fashioned in a specific shape, is buried with the top exposed. It is sealed until spring. Since the process occurs naturally without human intervention, the opening of the Quevri in the spring is highly anticipated and celebrated.
Since we are here in the fall, we didn’t get to witness Quevri openings, but we did have a fine time at several wineries. At Shumi, we were sent to the vineyard to harvest grapes. Then several of our entourage donned rain boots and crushed the fruit. All of this was way more fun than the usual boring speech about how wine is made. Then we capped the experience with a side-by-side tasting of wines made the Georgian way and wines made the traditional European method. We both preferred the wines made the European way, but that is what we are accustomed to. I will post pictures of our day in Kakheti.