On Thursday, we traveled to the Kakheti region and visited two wineries. Later we traveled to Chateau Mere for dinner and lodging. This lodging site also produces traditional wines and qvevri wines.
The first winery, MARANI of TELAVI is large, producing about 3,500,000 bottles. They have two brands. They produce numerous styles of wine including qvevri wines. The winery was built in 1915 but much more recently has been purchased by two private individuals and upgraded. While we visited we noticed numerous new winemaking equipment amongst the older. The contrast was striking. The office areas and tasting room are located in a large modern style building. Tour groups are given tours and then a comprehensive wine tasting while seated at a table. Cheese bites and bread are also served.
Next we went to the Aliverdi Monastery where only qvevri wines are produced. They are popular enough that the wines are sold out to visitors who stop by the winery. Visitors to the winery can begin by visiting the church where frescos can be viewed. Beyond the church is a large area where qvevri have been buried for centuries, dating back to the 8th – 10th centuries.
At Chateau Mere we were asked to participate in making two traditional Georgian specialties. We tried our hand at making a dessert/candy, Churchkhela that uses grape juice boiled down to a very thick syrup and then used to cover a string of walnuts. Drying takes about four days and eventually the candied-like string is cut into thin slices. The second item we made was khinkali, a traditional filled pastry. The filling is frequently a meat-like pork. A spoonful is placed on a round flat piece of pastry dough. Carefully but quickly the edges of the pastry are pleated together and the twisted at the top. These are placed in boiling water and will be cooked when they rise to the top of the water.
We are looking forward to learning more about Georgia.