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Our Second Day in Georgia, the Birthplace of Wine

Qvevri at Iago's

Qvevri at Iago's

Our second day in Georgia was as great as our first day. Our driver and our guide, Tamta, from the Georgia National Wine Agency took us to the outskirts of Tbilisi. Our first stop was in Mtskheta, at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a cathedral originally built in the 4th century. Inside, the cathedral had numerous images of saints and religious symbols. For the faithful it offers a place to pray and verify our Christian faith. The first cathedral was built of wood and later replaced with stone. A special glass enclosed case has a relic of St. Andrew.

Before long we visited a boutique winery only a five-minute walk from the Cathedral. The winemaker George Barisashvili produces wine in qvevris. Currently as of this year he does not sell his wines, however; he is adding another qvevri and plans to begin selling wines. His tasting room is tiny and cozy. Chairs are three-legged stools. We enjoyed tasting the qvevri wine followed by a brandy that he produces only for his own use.

Our next stop was a very elegant restaurant, Mtskhetis Darbazi. Inside the tables are covered with white tablecloths and napkins are creatively followed into cones. For lunch we had some of the Georgian specialties including cheese, spinach, bread, red pepper with a nut filling and chicken.

Our next stop was Chateau Mukhrani that beginning in 2003 that is re-establishing the tradition of the land that was once a large vineyard estate in the 1800s of Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni. The 100 acres of vineyards include international grapes and George’s indigenous grapes. The 19th century castle is being restored. Completion of the facility is expected in 2014. When finished the castle will feature lodging, restaurants and event rooms. It was interesting to see the lower floor where numerous qvevri are inserted in the ground. The winery consists of a large sloping grass-covered roof where events including concerts take place.

Our last stop for the day was at Iago’s where the winemaker produces only qvevri wines. Currently he produces 2,500 bottles. Some of his qvevri are 300 years old. Iago follows in the tradition of a long generation of family winemakers.

We are discovering a real liking for the qvevri wines being made in the age old traditional Georgian way. We are looking forward to visiting and learning more about the Georgia wine industry.


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