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Vakhtang Aslanikashvile Winery
Kathy & Terry Sullivan

Vakhtang Aslanikashvili WinerySummary: A visit with Vakhtang Aslanikashvile at his home winery is very enjoyable. Our visit included a walk into his vineyards in September with the vines prolifically bearing fruit. Vakhtang has an unusual Georgian grape variety – Usakhelouri.

Vakhtang Aslanikashvile’s vineyard and small winery in a village offers a unique experience and has a story to tell that includes why he planted a vineyard in a small Georgian village.

We enjoyed our visit to Vakhtang Aslanikashvile’s winery. Vakhtang is enthusiastic and affable with a ready smile. After walking to the vineyard and visiting the winery, we enjoyed a conversation with Vakhtang on his modern deck overlooking the Caucasus Mountains. While tasting his Usakhelouri wine, he provided us with more detailed information

Vakhtang Aslanikashvili WineryThe Beginning

Vakhtang Aslanikashvile told us how his father grew up in this small village in the mountains and eventually moved to Tbilisi. Shortly before he passed away he asked Vakhtang to return to his childhood village and establish a vineyard.

Eventually Vakhtang moved to a wonderful spot on the side of a mountain overlooking the center of the village down below. With help from local winemakers and neighbors he has established an 8,000-vine vineyard on one hectare (2.5 acres) of land at an elevation of 566 meters (1,857 feet).

Vakhtang Aslanikashvili WineryUsakhelouri: A Grape Variety

Vakhtang has planted his vineyard with Usakhelouri that is an unusual variety to find. It is one of the ancient original grape varieties. Vakhtang talked about the difficulties growing the grapes noting that it is hard to take care of. He has spent a decade working in the vineyard to get it into full production. The grapes are harvested in late fall when the leaves have turned red. Most grape varieties can provide a full harvest after six or seven years. Usakhelouri takes longer. The Usakhelouri grape is naturally sweet. The grapes often measure 28º Brix at harvest.

Vakhtang Aslanikashvili WineryWinery

The winery is on the ground level of Vakhtang’s home. Vakhtang produces the Usakhelouri in tanks. After harvesting the grapes, Vakhtang destems the grapes and puts the juice and chacha (pomace) into the tank for fermentation. He stops fermentation with cold temperatures. The next step is to rack the wine to the stainless steels tanks.

Wine Availability

In 2012, 495 bottles were produced. Vakhtang expects the 2013 vintage to produce 2,000 bottles and that he will begin exporting his wines. Due to the expense of the vineyard, small quantity and high quality, Vakhtang will sell the wine for about $130 a bottle. This year Vakhtang will also make a qvevri Usakhelouri in a 1,000-liter qvevri that will become available. Vakhtang said, “The qvevri Usakhelouri will be for men while the stainless steel version is semi-sweet and for women.” Kathy certainly enjoyed the semi-sweet version.

Vakhtang Aslanikashvili WineryWine

We enjoyed the 2012 Usakhelouri while sitting at a table in the circular gazebo overlooking mountains. This is a winery where you can just sit and enjoy the wine and the view. The Usakhelouri was a dark ruby to purple color. The wine had dark fruits on the aroma. The taste also had dark fruits and a bit of herbaceousness. The wine was sweet and fruity. It had tannins and a fruity aftertaste. While looking at the mountains we learned about the Argonauts on a not so distant mountain.

Jason and the Argonauts

As we sat at the table, Vakhtang pointed out in the distance a tall mountain. He noted that it is believed that this mountain, with many caves, is where the treasure from Jason and the Argonauts was hidden. Many people have searched for the treasure. but to this day a treasure has never been found.

Visitors with an appointment, who find their way to Vakhtang Aslanikashvile’s winery, will enjoy the experience. Upon leaving, Vakhtang picked a rose from his garden and gave it to Kathy. Of over 1,000 winery/vineyard visits, this was the first time she received a rose.

Vakhtang Aslanikashvile Winery









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