Regions and Appellations Georgian Republic

Georgian Wine

Georgia (the Eurasian nation, rather than the US state) is one of the world's oldest winemaking countries. The key wine grapes favored in Georgia are the red grape variety Saperavi and the white grape Rkatsiteli.

These are the classic varieties of the former Soviet republics, from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to Moldova and Ukraine. A number of other long established varieties are widely distributed around the country. Among these, red wine grapes are by far the most common, notably Alexandrouli, Aladasturi, Keduretuli, Ojaleshi and Usakhelauri. Their white counterparts are led by Chinuri and Mtsvani, in both Goruli and Kakhuri variants.

Qvevri awaiting filling
?Winery Khareba

The country is also strongly associated with the continuation of ancient winemaking techniques. This includes the use of clay vessels called qvevri (or kvevri) for fermentation and storage. Similar to ancient amphorae, they are buried in the ground outside, or set into a cellar floor for temperature consistency. Winemakers in the United States, Australia and elsewhere have also begun to import and use them.

Archaeological evidence suggests that primitive wine production first began 6000 to 8000 years ago in the Caucasus region. This includes Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey. Each of the modern countries lays claim to being the birthplace of wine. Academic papers on the topic tend to be hotly debated.

Early Georgian winemaking traditions were still prevalent many thousands of years later, as attested by the medieval hymn 'Thou Art a Vineyard'. The hymn was dedicated by King Demetrius I (1093–1156 AD) to his new Georgian kingdom. It begins: 'You are a vineyard newly blossomed, young beautiful, growing in Eden.'

Georgia's wine producers flourished in the Middle Ages, as the eastern Mediterranean region was rocked by the Crusades. As a Christian nation, Georgia was left unscathed by Crusaders, and was able to develop its agriculture and commerce in relative peace.

Later, it remained outside of the Ottoman Empire, whose Islamic Sharia law prohibited wine consumption. And so wine production flourished in Georgia until phylloxera and mildew arrived from the Americas in the late 19th Century. The pest devastated almost 150,000 acres (60,700ha) of vineyard.

When Georgia came under Soviet control a few decades later, vineyards were replanted in their thousands to meet expanded demand. However, the late 1980s saw a dramatic about-face in the Soviet Union's attitude to wine. Mikhail Gorbachev's aggressive anti-alcohol campaign effectively crippled Georgian wine exports.

The country has enjoyed only brief periods of political stability since it declared independence from the USSR in 1991. Tensions between Georgia and Russia continue today, as evidenced by Russia's 2006 embargo on Georgian wine imports, which was lifted only in June 2013.

During the Soviet era, a sizeable proportion of the Soviet Union's wine was made in Georgia. Therefore, after independence Russia was a major export market. Wine represents a significant component of Georgia's economy, so the embargo had a profound effect. Wines from Moldova, just across the Black Sea from Georgia, were also included in the ban.

Quite how Georgia's wine future will pan out is dependent on many factors, and of great interest to many in the wine world. The nation's wine producers may capitalize on 'international' grape varieties. Their climate, on the whole, makes super-ripe wine styles possible.

Alternatively, they may opt to draw on historical, long-established grape varieties and wine styles. Georgian wine traditions are strong, and the country's prime terroirs have been uncovered and studied over a long period, of which most wine nations would be envious. The most durable solution is likely to be a mixture of the two. This is a balance that even major wine nations such as Italy find hard to achieve.

The Georgian wine map is sprawling and complex. It shows that few areas of this ancient country have remained untouched by viticulture. There is also great diversity of climate, from temperate to sub-tropical. Topography and geology vary from the Caucasus Mountains of the north to the river valleys and coastal plains of the west). From Kakheti in the south-east to Apkhazeti atop the Black Sea coast, it is only Georgia's most remote highlands that do not produce wine.

Enjoy this video about Georgia's rich and ancient wine culture...

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Most Popular Georgian Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Eristoff Original Vodka, Georgian Republic Vodka 5,927th $14
Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Kindzmarauli, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 7,228th 89 $13
Sarajishvili X.O. Brandy, Georgian Republic Brandy 7,426th $66
Eristoff Black Wild Berry Flavored Vodka, Georgian Republic Vodka - Flavored 8,462nd $13
Chateau Mukhrani Saperavi, Georgian Republic Saperavi 8,969th 89 $17
Mildiani Family Winery Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 10,733rd 88 $13
Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli Amber Wine, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Rkatsiteli 13,750th 90 $22
Pheasant's Tears Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 13,750th 89 $21
Badagoni Saperavi Dry Red, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 16,266th $9
Teleda Orgo Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 16,266th 90 $25
Schuchmann 'Vinoterra' Kisi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Rare White Blend 17,769th 90 $16
Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Mukuzani, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 19,497th 88 $12
Askaneli Brothers Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 21,825th $8
Telavi Wine Cellar Marani 'Satrapezo' Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 22,611th 88 $30
Askaneli Brothers 5 Year Old Georgian Brandy, Georgian Republic Brandy 23,011th $16
Tbilvino Mukuzani, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 25,375th 88 $13
Askaneli Brothers Kindzmarauli, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 26,818th $10
Teliani Valley Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 27,395th 87 $13
Tbilvino 'Qvevris' Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 28,014th 88 $21
Winery Khareba Saperavi, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 28,014th 88 $18
Alaverdi Monastery Cellar Rkatsiteli, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Rkatsiteli 29,713th 91 $26
Sarajishvili V.S.O.P. Brandy, Georgian Republic Brandy 30,030th $32
Dugladze Mukuzani, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Saperavi 30,030th 88 $10
Teliani Valley Khvanchkara, Racha-Lechkhumi, Georgian Republic Rare Red Blend 30,030th 89 $18
Telavi Wine Cellar Marani Kondoli Saperavi - Merlot, Kakheti, Georgian Republic Rare Red Blend 33,484th 87 $18
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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