For this week’s episode and the next, we’ll be taking you on a trip to the Republic of Georgia. We first became interested in Georgia through wine and food tour company, Taste Georgia. We’ve been enthusiastically following their adventures for some time so we were thrilled when they invited us to join a press trip that they were helping organize. Georgia had even more to offer than we could have imagined and we’ve done our best to compile and share our experiences with you.
The first leg of our trip focused on wine because, as you’ll soon hear, it is a very important and constant theme in Georgia’s history. The country’s wine-making culture goes back some 8 to 9,000 years and in many cases, wine is still made using the same methods that were first employed millennia ago.
The National Georgian Wine Agency very kindly invited us to the New Wine Festival 2015, the theme of which was “Other Varieties”. In its sixth consecutive year, the festival celebrates the wines of Georgia, each year highlighting a specific aspect of the wine-making process. This year celebrated rare and lesser known grape varieties that some winemakers are trying to revive and bring attention to. We attended the festival’s opening ceremony organized by the National Georgian Wine agency, where we tasted some of the wines being featured this year.
The following day we attended the wonderful public tasting event in Tbilisi’s Deda Ena Park, where each producer participating in the festival set up a stand and shared their products. Free to the public and community oriented, it was described to us as “a very democratic event!” and we agree.
The next day we left the city of Tbilisi and visited some natural wine producers who hosted us in their cellars and shared their stories with us.
We also talked to Sarah May Grunwald, founder and owner of Taste Georgia, about her love affair with the country, as well as Malkhaz Kharbedia, director of the wine festival, and Irakli Cholobargia, Head of the marketing department at the Georgian National Wine Agency.
Finally we talk to Iago Bitarishvili, also another director of the festival, of Iago’s Wine. Iago hosted us to a wine tasting and incredible Georgian feast, or supra, at his winery in the Kartli region which we can sum up by saying we enjoyed it so much that we never wanted to leave.
We would like to send our most sincere thanks and appreciation to the National Georgian Wine Agency, The Georgian National Tourism Administration, Taste Georgia, Irakli Cholobargia, Malkaz Kharbedia, Iago Bitarishvili, Tamuna Kakhidze, Nata Bakhtadze, Kety Akhobadze and every other person we had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with for giving us such a positive, wonderful and unique experience. We hope to raise a glass with you again soon!