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Archil Guniava Wine Cellar
Kathy & Terry Sullivan

Archil Guniava Wine CellarSummary: Archil Guniava Wine Cellar is a family winery. Archil Guniava’s family proudly supports his winemaking endeavors with genuine Georgian hospitality.

Archil Guniava Wine Cellar is a small Georgian family winery in Kvaliti, Imereti, Georgia. Upon our arrival at the winery, we were greeted by three generations of smiling family members. The third generation easily speaks English and they noted that one of the teachers at the school was from Wisconsin.

Archil Guniava Wine CellarVineyards

We walked a short distance to the vineyards. Archil has half a hectare of vineyards. In the future he will plant more vines. There are plantings of the white grapes Krakhuna, Tsitska, Tsolikouri and the black grape Otskhanuri Sapere. We discovered that some vineyards in western Georgia have corn or other vegetables planted in them. The corn protects the grapes from the intensity of the sun.

Otskhanuri Sapere is a black grape that uses high trellising. It was an unusual experience to walk under the trellised grapevines with grape clusters hanging waiting for a November harvest.

Archil is quite comfortable walking in his vineyards. He stopped for a moment to pose for a photograph under his Tsolikouri vines.


The marani (wine cellar) is a dedicated room located in the yard outside of Archil’s family home where he produces qvevri wines. There are several qvevri of different sizes buried under the dirt floor in the room.

Archil Guniava began making wine as a child and now produces two wines. A white wine is a blend of varieties including Tsolikouri, Krakhuna and Tsitska. A black wine using Otskhanuri Sapere grapes is blended with a white wine made from Tsolikouri grapes.

While in the marani, Archil demonstrated the tool he uses for punching down the cap of a fermenting Tsolikouri. He also opened a sealed qvevri. The wood covering over the qvevri opening was covered with about six inches of clay. Archil used a flat wood shovel to loosen the clay from the sides of the opening in the floor. He then lifted the chunk of wet clay out from the opening. Archil then removed the two-piece wood covering over the opening of the qvevri. Taking a wine glass he filled the glass with a gold colored wine. Archil then replaced the two pieces of wood to cover the qvevri opening and placed the chunk of clay over the wood. Using a baseball bat-like piece of wood, he pounded the clay until it formed a seal around the opening in the ground.

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Archil Guniava Wine CellarTraditional Georgian Dishes

The Archil Guniava Wine Cellar does not have a tasting room. We enjoyed tasting wine and some delicious food while we were in the marani. In the center of the marani, a large display of colorful and tasty Georgian foods had been set out. Archil’s mother encouraged us to begin eating a pudding like confection made of grape juice. Smiling, Archil quickly suggested we should wait until we had tasted his qvevri wines before eating that particular food. We looked at his mother who was smiling. In addition to the grape pudding, there were Tsolikouri grapes, corn on the cob, acorn nuts, cooked pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. The acorn nuts were tasty and palate cleansing. This made for a very attractive table setting of foods to accompany the wines.

Archil Guniava Wine CellarWinemaking

When we visited the winery in late September, an aged long wood press was filled with Tsolikouri. The 100-year-old wood press was made from the trunk of a tree. The juice from the press goes directly into a qvevri. Archil adds about 20 percent chacha (pomace) and stems to the qvevri. He said that sometimes he uses stems and at other times does not.


We tasted Krakhuna that had been placed in a qvevri for only two days. The brix reading was 23º Brix. The fermenting juice was very sweet. Yum! The 2012 Kvaliti tasting was also from qvevri. After staying in the qvevri for six months, Archil racked the wine into another qvevri for six months. This wine was a blend of Tsolikouri, Krakhuna and Tsitska. The wine was a dark gold color. The aroma was of floral and yellow fruit. Tannins accompanied a fruity finish.

The 2012 Kvaliti Otskhanuri Sapere/Tsolikouri was a dark purple to black color with notes of dark black fruit. The finish was fruity with chewy tannins. Archil tried to make a wine using only the Otskhanuri Sapere, a black grape. He discovered that the resulting wine was too strong. Today he blends the Otskhanuri Sapere with Tsolikouri. To make this wine he presses the Tsolikauri and adds it to a qvevri. In November he harvests the Otskhanuri Sapere, presses the grapes and adds the juice and chacha to the qvevri. According to Archil, even with the Tsolikouri fermented, it is not a problem to add the Otskhanuri Sapere. To finish the wine he continues to use the same winemaking process that he uses for the other qvevri wines.


At the time of our September 2013 visit, Archil Guniava produces about 1,100 bottles of wine. Archil Guniava exports his wines to Poland, Japan, and Italy.

Appointments are necessary in order to visit this Georgian family winery. When visiting expect to receive an enthusiastic welcome.

Archil Guniava Wine Cellar

Kvaliti, Imereti, Georgia









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