There has been wine in Georgia almost as long as there have been Georgians. Grapevine has been cultivated in the fertile valleys of Georgia for about 8000 years. With over 500 varieties of endemic grapes and the world’s first cultivated grapevines, the traditions of viticulture are entwined with the country’s national identity. It’s also believed that the word “wine” is of Georgian origin (“ღვინო” – “ghvino” in Georgian). All over Georgia, archaeologists have found ancient wine presses and clay vessels, proving that viticulture has been practiced here at least since the 5th-4th millennia BC.
Georgians have a special method of making wine in stone presses and then storing it in clay vessels sunk in the ground. Even today many houses in the country have a wine cellar – the so-called “Marani” with a wine-press and underground clay jars – “Qvevri”. Unlike the European way of wine-making that implies separation of juice from grapes after pressing, Georgians keep juice and grapes together for some time before separating them. This is what gives Georgian wine its special flavor and strength.
Wine is an inseparable part of the traditional Georgian feast. At Georgian table toasts are made by a toast-master or “Tamada” and wine is drunk from a clay cup or a horn called “Kantsi”. Folk songs are also frequently sung at table.
In this tour you travel to the wine-growing region of Kakheti in East Georgia and the province of Imereti where you can taste different wines. You will see how wine is made in local families and in bigger wineries and how it is stored. In addition to this you will soon become acquainted with the traditions of the Georgian feast – making toasts and drinking wine from special vessels.
Early in the morning arrive in Tbilisi, meet in the airport and transfer to a hotel.
Tbilisi sightseeing program – visit the Old Town. The city offers a great variety of sights, most of them very ancient. All the places of interest in the Old Town are very close to each other, within a few minutes’ walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church (13th century), and then walk to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral (6th-7th centuries) and Anchiskhati Church (6th century). Afterwards we drive up to Mother Georgia statue and walk down to Narikala Fortress (4th century) en route enjoying beautiful views of Old Town. Then we visit Sulphur Baths district. This marks the end of the Old Town. in the afternoon we visit Champagne factory.
Overnight in Tbilisi.
In the morning we start exploring Kakheti region well known for its wine producing. We enjoy superb views of Great Caucasus Mountains and valleys of Kakheti, acknowledge traditions and culture of the country and region, taste wines and delicious food.
First drive to visit a farmer’s house to see a unique 300 year-old wine-cellar. You get acquainted with the Georgian way of wine-making, quite different from the European one and drink typical Georgian wines. We’ll taste more homemade wines in another old wine cellar and afterwards enjoy our lunch with homemade delicious food and wine at a local family in the village. One more wine tasting in the wine factory in Kvareli.
Overnight in Kvareli.
In the morning visit a local farmer market in Telavi and then continue our way to the village Vardisubani to learn how to make Georgian clay jars “Qvevri”. Afterwards we visit the impressing Alaverdi Cathedral (11th century) and taste excellent cloister wines there. One more wine tasting and lunch in the winery of Schuchmann. Before driving to the capital we will visit the local duke`s estate in Tsinandali (19th century).
Overnight in Tbilisi
Drive to ancient capital and religious center of Georgia – Mtskheta. Visit its historical places: Jvari Monastery (6th century) and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century) where the Robe of Christ is buried. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Wine tasting in “Iago’s Marani”_ great experience for wine drinkers. Continue drive to Mukhrani village. Visit royal estate of duke – Ivane Mukhranbatoni. His interest in farming was greatly enhanced on his trip to France, where he learned more about winemaking. On his return home he decided to start producing wonderful Georgian wines on his forefathers’ Mukhrani estate land. Lunch and wine tasting. Continue to Kutaisi .
Overnight in Kutaisi.
Today we have opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful mountainous regions of Georgia - Racha. The region is famous for wine culture. First we visit Nikortsminda church (11th century). Continue to Bugeuli village where we taste famous wine of Racha - Khvanchkara. Afterwards we visit local family in Ambrolauri. They will host us with traditional dishes like lobiani and shkmeruli. Afterwards we drive back to Kutaisi. Visit the Gelati Cathedral (11th century).
Overnight in Kutaisi.
Today we visit a very special place in Sachkhere, where the whole village keeps their wines together. Tasting of traditional, local, Imeretian wines. Then we continue our way to Tbilisi, where we Visit Georgian brandy factory founded as the first Cognac factory in the Caucasus in 1888.
Overnight in Tbilisi.
Transfer to the airport and departure.
Ladies require scarves in the Georgian orthodox churches, sometimes skirts too, but they can find some in the entrances.
Short trousers are forbidden in the church.
You can bring along: sun cream, hat, rain - and wind coats, etc.
For some program points comfortable shoes are needed.