With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, this small Caucasian country is considered the cradle of international viticulture. From grape varieties to winemaking techniques, Georgians were the first to speak the language of wine.
Linguists agree that the etymology of the word "wine" comes from the Georgian word"gvino". Georgia has 525 indigenous grape varieties grown in the country's 18 appellations, a world record! The Kakheti region provides the majority of the national production. Two major grape varieties occupy 80% of the vineyard: Rkatsiteli (white) and Saperavi (red).
Kvevri: the emblem of Georgian wines.
This large terracotta jar that can hold between 300 and 3,500 litres of wine is the ancestor of our barrel. Once filled with grape juice, they were buried underground for several weeks to ensure fermentation at stable temperatures. Thanks to its 6,000 years of history, this winemaking process was included on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2013.
The Georgian government is currently working with NASA to scientifically prove once and for all that this is the first wine-producing country in history. They want it to be!
Along with Ethiopia and Armenia, it was one of the first nations to adopt Christianity as the state religion, which has reinforced the place of wine in traditional rituals and festivals. Under the rule of Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols and Ottomans, Georgia was annexed by Imperial Russia in 1800. In 2006, Russia decided to boycott Georgian wines on its territory. This embargo pushes the winegrowers to organize themselves. They quickly decided to turn towards the West by refining the quality of their products.
Cradle of orange wine
The country is also home to a rare but exciting wine: orange wine. It is a white wine vinified like a red wine since the fermentation takes place with the skins and sometimes even the stalks. This method still inspires Slovenian, Italian, French and even Australian winemakers.
Over the last 10 years, Georgian wine has established itself on the international scene. When the old world jostles the new, we love it!
Continue your exploration of world wines through the pages of our Atlas of World Wines here