Georgia Travel Diary 5-Wine Cellar Visit

ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine
ashusPhotography-Georgian Wine

When visiting the beautiful country Georgia, one has to include visits to the lush green vineyards, orchards, wine cellars and not to forget to taste the locally made wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.
ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards
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ashusPhotograpy-Vineyards on both sides of the road.

Georgia is famous and known for its ancient traditional method of wine making, and this method is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list. Wine is a very integral part of every Georgian’s daily life with all the festivities and their different rituals. Wine making is a national occupation, almost all houses have grape vines growing in their land and the method of wine making is passed on from generations to generations. They use the wine making method in which an egg-shaped earthen clay pot known as Kvevri or Qvevri is used to make wine.(I am not sure about the spelling). The Georgian farmers use the Qvevri for making the wine, ageing it and then storing it. Hence this method of wine making is known as the Qvevri method.

ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhotography-Qvevri
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery
ashusPhtograpy-Qvevri seen in Khareba Winery

Our Georgia tour package included a tour visit of a 300-year-old wine cellar as mentioned in the brochure given to us by our guide Nino. It was something new, different and  a fabulous experience to visit the wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-Wine cellar
ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.
ashusPhotography-the wine cellar floor with the buried qvevris that are below the circular lids seen in the picture.
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ashusPhotography-the wine being taken out from the qvevri that is seen buried in the ground in the wine cellar.

The farmer had both the Red and White wines that he removed in front of us from the Qvevri that were buried deep in the ground in his cellar. The cellar was dark inside, no sunlight could come in, the walls were thick, stone and brick made. There were many old vessels, machinery, lamps, wine making tools and quite a number of assorted pots, pans, pitchers and jars that were displayed of which some might not be in use now.

ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography-wine making tools
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars
ashusPhotography- The wine cellar with empty barrels, wine making tools, pots, and jars

Their were number of empty wine bottles stacked  very neatly in the wall, big jars, bottles filled with liquid and lemon cubes inside.

ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles
ashusPhotography-Stacked empty wine bottles

 

ashusPhotography-stacked empty bottles
ashusPhotography-Liquid filled bottle with lemon
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers
ashusPhotograpy-wine jars/Pitchers

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It is a Georgian tradition to offer the  local bread Shotti along with the wine, this farmer too offered us the bread. I loved the wine pots and pitchers, but unfortunately I could not buy any as souvenirs as I kept thinking I will see them some place, but did not like the ones that I came across in the souvenir shops.

ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotography-wine offered for tasting and the Georgian bread called Shotti
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.
ashusPhotograpy-Red wine being taken out for tasting from the buried qvevri.

Our guide Nino helped us understand how the wine is made, as the farmer could not speak English. I am writing and sharing here whatever I can recollect of the Georgian wine making method that she told us, everything was so new and interesting that I had no time to jot down each and every word of hers :).

The grapes are collected, pressed and the juice then poured into the Qvevri along with the skin, stalks, and the pips. It is then sealed and buried into the ground so that the wine can ferment for five or six months before it is opened and drunk. The wine is then kept for ageing. The Qvevri facilitates the process of  formation and ageing with the minerals that are part of it’s composition. This method of wine making is found all over the country. After the wine is removed the left over chacha-skin, stalks and pip is used to make the drink called chacha through a process, and this drink Chacha (Georgian name) is also know as Vodka. We can see that nothing from the grape plant is wasted, the whole plant gets used to make both the wine and Vodka. The local farmer at whose house we ate the Georgian lunch served us all types of drinks- Wine both red as well as white, Chacha/Vodka, and Champagne. I will make another post of the Georgian feast, Supra as they call it.

ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Picture showing a qvevri buried in the wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

The grape varieties used determine if it is Red or White wine. We visited the many monasteries in the country and could see the wine cellars using this traditional wine making methods. The Rkatsteli and Mtsvane varieties of the grapes are used to produce the White wine. The Saperavi grape variety is used to make the Red wine.

ashusPhotography-Red wine
ashusPhotography-Red wine offered for tasting.
ashusPhotography-White wine
ashusPhotography-White wine offered from tasting

The Satsnakheli is a wooden trough usually made from a single wood that is used for as a manual foot stumping wine press.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli: a foot stumping wine press seen in wine cellar at Nekresi Monastery, Georgia

It was no longer used by this wine maker as told by our guide. The grapes are put into the Satsnakheli, then manually foot pressed and the juice is directly collected in the Qvevri. Later the grape skins, stalks and pips left in the Satsnakheli are put into the Qvevris.

ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.
ashusPhotography-Satsnakheli that is no longer used for wine press by the wine maker.

A visit to the wine cellar would not be complete if we did not buy the farmers homemade wine, and we bought one bottle of the red wine.

ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.
ashusPhotograpy-Our purchase of homemade Red wine bottle.

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As we sat and chatted along with our guide, the farmer was busy with another group of tourist who had come to visit his wine cellar.

ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer
ashusPhotography-Grape vine, Kiwi plants, qvevri in the courtyard of the local farmer

As I already mentioned at the start of the post that this Qvevri method of wine making is inscribed in UNESCO intangible heritage list, hence, if you are visiting Georgia, do visit a wine cellar or winery and see it in person and get the joy of tasting the local wines.

I had a great trip and hence wished to share few details of the trip for those tourists who look up websites, blogs for information before traveling or picking up a travel destination. Are you one of them?  I sure am :).

If you want to check out my other posts on Georgia click the below number links-

Georgia Travel diary 1,

Georgia Travel 2,

Georgia travel 3,

Georgia travel 4

Hope to see you back to check out my next post that will be on the Georgian Supra.

Enjoy! Happy Traveling 🙂

ashu

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12 thoughts on “Georgia Travel Diary 5-Wine Cellar Visit

    1. Thanks :), it is a great idea Liz.
      The Kvevri could be seen everywhere all over Georgia.
      I was so much reminded of Asterix and Obelix comics seeing the wine pitchers and the small statues of men outside the souvenir shops.
      Great to be conversing here with you. Thanks.
      Wish you too a great weekend.

      Like

    1. Yes Miriam, for me it was a great experience, though I do not drink. It is a beautiful country and enjoyed every bit of our stay. It is always interesting to learn about different cultures and places. Back home we too have small cottage industries with local communities being part but things have changed a lot there too with changing times.
      Happy to read your thoughts about the post, thank you 😊. Ashu

      Like

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