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Day 11 in Georgia (Sakartvelo): Birthplace of Wine

Pouring a Usakheloutri Wine

On Day 11 of our visit to Georgia (Sakartvelo) we visited three wineries in the Georgian region of Racha-Lechkhumi. To reach these wineries from the second largest city in Georgia, Kutaisi, rough roads added more drama to the sights of the beautiful river and the Caucasus Mountains. At one point we asked our driver how often he replaces his car tires. The good news is that along the way there were signs of road construction taking place.

Occasionally we would be on a mountaintop staring down into the deep crevices where we might see small family vineyards. At other times we were deep in the valleys where small villages are located. One could see vineyards clinging to the sides of the mountains.

Our first stop was at Vakhtang Aslanikoshvile, a small vineyard and winery, producing a wine made from a unique grape varietal, an ancient grape variety, Usakhelouri. Vakhtang, winemaker and vineyard owner, had lived in Tbilisi. Eventually his father asked him to return to his village where he had grown up and plant a vineyard. According to Vakhtang this grape variety is difficult to grow. It has taken him 11 years to develop a full crop to harvest.

Our second visit was with Engusi Natberadze who grows several types of Georgian grape varieties. Engusi has several qvevris, two of which are more than 200 years old. He prefers his wines to be light bodied and therefore does not add the chacha to the qvevri. Engusi believes he is making the best wines available for his palate.

The final stop for the day was at Aleksandreguli that was established in 2003. The winery had 30 hectares of grapes and also sources grapes from local growers. They use 100 percent chacha when fermenting. Aleksandreuli produces semi-sweet and dry wines. They export wines to Poland and Ukraine.

Tomorrow we will visit two more wineries and head to Batumi on the coast of the Black Sea.


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