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Dadiani Old Cellar
Kathy Sullivan

Dadiani Old CellarSummary: Dadiani Old Cellar has one of the most unusual sights that we have ever seen at a winery. They have a huge authentic bear! You have to see it to believe it! We enjoyed a visit to Dadiani Old Cellar where we tasted the relatively unknown grape variety Ojaleshi. We also learned and saw more of Georgia’s religious and political history. We saw a bit of good-humored rivalry when we were told that Ojaleshi wine is the Rolls-Royce of Georgian wines.

Dadiani Old CellarArriving at Dadiani Old Cellar requires passing a large decorative gate by foot and following a pathway through a wooded area. The path leads almost directly in front of a church. To the right is a chateau and a long pathway to the left leads to the marani and vineyards.

Dadiani Old Cellar is located in the village of Salkhino in the Samegrelo wine region of Georgia. A visit to Dadianis’ Wine Cellar provides visitors with an opportunity to see a 17th century renovated chateau and a Georgian Orthodox church. The church is named St. Maria in honor of her birth on September 21.

Dadiani Old CellarOur first stop was to see the Georgian Orthodox monastery located between the chateau and the marani. Currently the Salkhino Monastery operates the Dadiani Old Cellar.

Dadiani Old CellarOur guide, Gio Sikharulidze, explained that the chateau was built during the 17th century but during Soviet times the church was destroyed and is now being rebuilt. The chateau was basically destroyed and was renovated when Georgia became independent.  Today the chateau has a more modern style.  Rooms are set aside for the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch’s use when he travels to the region.

The chateau doors open into a main room where an elegant, curved staircase leads to the upper floor. Outside of the second floor, a large balcony provides photographic views of the property including the church and vineyards.

Dadiani Old CellarVineyards and Marani

The vineyards are on the property and consist of 30 hectares of Ojaleshi grapevines. According to our guide, the Ojaleshi grape is very dependent on this area and will not grow elsewhere.
Currently the winery has five wood presses, each made from a single tree trunk. The winemaker at Dadiani Wine Cellar is Father Illia. For Father Illia, winemaking is a cultural and traditional custom. His relatives made wine.

Wine Tasting

Our tasting at Dadiani Old Cellar began with a Chacha made from Ojaleshi chacha (pomace) and a toast to God because God is the Creator. The Chacha offered a long floral aftertaste.

Dadiani Old CellarWe tasted two wines, different vintages, made from Ojaleshi  grapes. The grapes for the wines were harvested after a December freeze. The grapes were pressed and the juice placed into barrels. After enough juice was pressed, the wine was racked from barrels to qvevris. Stems, skins and seeds were added to the juice in the qvevris and fermentation took place over several days. After fermentation the wine was racked off the chacha and aged.

We tasted the Ojaleshi 2012. The wine was served from a qvevri in the table and poured into a small clay-drinking vessel. The dark purple wine had an aroma that was reminiscent of a forest floor. Spices, on the taste, were accompanied by bold tannins.

Our last wine to taste was the 2013 Ojaleshi. Prior to tasting this wine another toast was made to friendship.  The wine was a dark purple and the aroma reminded one of a forest floor. The taste included raspberry and spice notes. The finish had bold chewy tannins.

During our wine tasting we were told with a smile that Ojaleshi wines are the Rolls-Royce of wines compared to Saperavi wines that are the Volkswagen of Georgian wines. We all smiled at this pronouncement and wondered what the monks at Alaverdi Monastery, where qvevri Saperavi wines are produced, might say.

Currently the wine is not sold but as the vineyards mature, Dadiani Old Cellar wines will become available commercially. If you have the opportunity to taste an Ojaleshi wine, try it and see for yourself. If you enjoy red wines this might be the wine variety for you.

Dadiani Old CellarAs we left the marani and wine tasting, we were directed towards another area where a large, light brown bear is kept. We are interested in what makes a winery unique. One of the monks simply said, "We have a bear."

When planning to visit Dadiani Wine Cellar, take time to make an appointment. This is a peaceful spot worth spending some time to stroll past gardens and enjoy the views of the mountains, vineyards, church and buildings.

Dadiani Old Cellar
Salkhino, Samegrelo, Georgia 

Article Written April 2014         










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