Wine lovers have a lot to thank Georgia for. It is widely believed that this is where wine production first began, over 8000 years ago. In fact, our word “wine” is derived from “gvino” – the Georgian word for wine. Archaeological remains suggest that as early as 4000 BC grape juice was being placed in underground clay jars, or quevri (also known as kvevri), to ferment during the winter.
The wine is central to Georgian culture and tightly bound to their religious heritage. It is common for families throughout Georgia to grow their own grapes and produce wine. Feasting and hospitality are central pillars of Georgian culture, and traditional banquets are presided over by a toastmaster, or Tamada, who proposes numerous toasts throughout the meal, and ensures the wine, flows liberally.
Georgia is a land famed for its natural bounty. These days there are over 500 species of grape in Georgia, a greater diversity than anywhere else in the world, with around 40 of these grape varieties being used in commercial wine production. Around 150 million liters of wine are produced each year in Georgia, with around 45 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation.
Georgia’s wines fall into several zones, by far the most important is Kakheti, which produces 70% of all Georgian wine.
As interest in natural and artisan wine making increases, a great deal of attention has recently been falling on Georgia’s ancient tradition of quevri wine-making. This method of wine-making dates back over 7000 years, and the Georgians are currently seeking to give it special protected heritage status through UNESCO. Quevris are not the same as amphora – firstly, they are much larger, and are buried in the ground up their neck, to preserve a stable temperature. Secondly, the entire wine making process takes place within the quevri – initial fermentation right through to maturation, with the fermenting grape juice often being left on the skins and even grape stems to produce wines of exceptional flavor and complexity.
One of Georgia’s other great wine making traditions, which one cannot help noticing when coming across these wines for the first time, is its semi sweet wines, which appear in both red and white varieties and the most famous from the winery Kindzmarauli, the less well known but highly regarded varieties are Ojaleshi and Pirosmani, and the magisterial Khvanchkara, the favorite wine of one of Georgia’s most infamous sons, Joseph Stalin.
Traditionally, medium sweet wines were produced in the mountainous areas where, due to climate and soil conditions, late harvest and early winter prevented fermentation and the wine stayed sweet. This type of wine was therefore generally used for local and quick consumption, because in spring, when the temperature rose, the wines tended to re-ferment and spoil. Nowadays, famous Georgian semi-sweet wines such as Kindzmarauli and Khvanchkara tend to be created within temperature controlled fermentation tanks at the winery to preserve their higher sugar content.
(The Georgian Wine Society)
KIndzmarauli Wine Corporation
KIndzmarauli Wine Corporation is the owner of Hotel Chateau Kvareli and the wine producing history of the company begins in the year 1533 when at the area of the historical Castle of Kvareli, Levan (The King of Kakheti) founded a traditional wine cellar. The company owns today 160 ha vineyards in the historical wine zones of Kindzmarauli, Kvareli and Nafareuli. The used historical grape species are Saferavi, Kisi, Mtsvane, Aeksanderouli and Rkatsiteli.
The uniqueness of the Kindzmarauli vineyards is expressed in their location, where the southern ridge of the Caucasus Mountains and the rivers Durujio and Alazani create excellent microclimate conditions to receive the highest quality of wine. One of the main reasons of the superb wine quality is the high content of black slates in the ground which reduces the average crop but also significantly increases the wine quality.
The name of the KIndzmarauli wine cellar is “Duruji Valley”. It produces more than 40 kinds of wine types of alcohol including 20 kinds of wine and the same amount of brandies and the traditional Kakheti Chacha.
A very important place in the wine production is the traditional wines produced in pitchers, called Qvevri. After the UNESCO recognized the Qvevri wine production as a cultural heritage of Georgia, the demand of these wine types increased massive.
Every year KInzmarauli Wine Corporation produces more than 60.000 liter wine and the wine house at the wine cellar “Duruji Valley location gives the guest the possibility to taste all the varieties and buy the one with the favorite taste.