Our day began with a visit to the 6th century Ikalto Monastery that included an academy. It was also known for being a large winemaking enterprise with numerous qvevri discovered. Our visit included a description of how St. Nino brought Christianity to Georgia.
Soon we left the monastery for our first visit with Remi Kbilashvili a qvevri maker. He is a fourth generation qvevri maker and his son will continue the tradition. Currently he is working on eight large qvevris that was a special order. He noted that only three people are making qvevri in Georgia today.
Our next visit was at a small winery that produces 2,600 bottles of qvevri wine. Winemaker Kakha Berishvili is friendly and laidback. His winery is located close to the Didkhevi River. The vineyards are across the river about one kilometer away.
After lunch at Marleta Café, we visited Besini. This winery began as a plant nursery. They followed with a vineyard and then began producing wine. Currently they are producing 500,000 bottles and with the Russian embargo lifted, they will be producing 3 million bottles. While producing wine they are also completing the winery. Next they will be renovating old buildings to be used for a hotel and building a tasting room. Besini has a bright future ahead as an agritourism site.
Pheasant’s Tears is a winery with a restaurant in the renovated mountaintop town of Sighnaghi. The name Pheasant’s Tears comes from the local area where it has been said, “You can make wine so good you can make a pheasant cry.” Pheasant’s Tears owner is an American who discovered Georgian hospitality and decided to start a winery here. He has several vineyards, one of which is a vineyard library with 200 different grape varieties. His most unusual but very good wine has 80 different varieties in it.
What more delightful things does Georgia have in store for us?