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Days 9 and 10 in Georgia, Sakartvelo: Birthplace of Wine

Shavnabada Monastery of Saint George Wine Cellar

On day 9 we visited Shavnabada Monastery of Saint George Wine Cellar a short distance outside of Tbilisi. The monastery is located on Mount Shavnabada. It is here that monks produce Shavnabada wine using the age-old technology of qvevris. An article about our experience at the monastery is available online.

We had a free afternoon and decided to walk from our hotel to the Vino Underground. This is a small shop that offers natural wine and small plates of food. Natural wine refers to wine that has had nothing added to it including yeast. Our experience indicates that natural wines have a fresher fruit aroma and taste. It should be noted that winemakers who produce natural wines do not want the term organic used. Organic winemaking allows the use of some products other than grapes.

Day 10

On the 10thday of our visit to Georgia, also known by the people of Georgia as Sakartvelo, we left Tbilisi and traveled to

Qvevri by Zaliko Bodjadze

western Georgia heading towards the Imereti region. The main road was well maintained and smooth. After passing through a long tunnel in the mountains we continued on until we stopped at a qvevri maker. Zaliko Bodjadze explained what he does, answered our questions about qvevri and proceeded to show us how he adds coils to the qvevri to increase its height. After adding about three inches of clay, he takes a smooth thin piece of wood to smooth the clay coils. In three days he will add another layer. Nearby is a special building built for firing the qvevri. When applying the thin limestone covering he demonstrated how he adds wire designed to protect the clay qvevri.

Soon we left for a visit to Archil Guniava Wine Cellar, a family winery that produces only qvevri wines. We were greeted and welcomed by the entire winemaker’s family including Archil’s wife, children and parents. He uses a wood press for making his wines. His qvevri are housed in the marani (cellar.) He also has vineyards that include some of Georgia’s more unusual grape varieties. He expects that his family will continue the winemaking tradition.

Our last stop before going to our hotel was Gaioz Sopromadze’s Wine Cellar. The winemaker, Gaioz,  took us to see his onsite vineyards where he has some of Georgia’s special grape varietals. Next we went to the marani (wine cellar) next to his home where he has several  qvevris buried in the ground. We went to his wine cellar and tasted several wines made from grape varieties we had yet to taste. Terry’s favorite wine was an experimental wine because it was fruity and had bold tannins.

We are looking forward to another day in western Georgia, Sakartvelo!



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