I have left the best until last and that is Georgia’s ancient wine industry. In Tbilisi every street has a wine shop where you can sample wine, taste wine, buy wine. Outside the capital there are signs everywhere for vineyards, wine cellars, wine producers, wine routes.
The wine region of Kakheti lies in the fertile lands in the eastern part of Georgia. 70% of Georgia’s vines are grown here.
It was 6000 BC when the first grapes were found in Georgia which is why they proudly boast to be the cradle of wine. They produce 520 varieties of wine in the country. Alexander Chavchavadze bought European methods of wine production to Georgia in the early 19th century. The cellar at his summer pad still sells wines and chacha using local grapes.
We stop for lunch with a local family who have their own vineyard and produce their own wine – dry red and dry white, the latter more like amber.
The white is…..well, a bit iffy for my palette. The red is great from the start. And it was the start of a great meal, in the sunshine, in the shade of fruit-laden vines. Great fresh food and copious amounts of the family’s very drinkable plonk.
A bit of methodology for you….. The grapes in the fields are harvested. The harvest is thrown through the hatch of the 150 year old wine cellar and into the trough where feet trample and squish the grapes. The liquid drains into one of the three underground vats, which, once filled, is sealed.
Fermentation takes place. When ready the wine is removed with the help of a clay jug and allowed to settle in large jars before being bottled.
A further step is to create chacha. The grape leftovers are mushed together and placed into large clay pots where fermentation continues. The vessels are sealed. After 6 months or so it is filtered and decanted into smaller vessels. Repeat filtration creates a stronger spirit called chacha, rated 50%+ on the Richter scale of spirits.
What a great lunch. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the day.