Sunny Georgia is one of my favorite countries. Whether with family or for work, I've been there about ten times. Once, I practically bought a vineyard in the Kakheti region.
The last trip began in Kazbegi, located 11 kilometers from the southern border of Russia with the Upper Lars border crossing, famous for its traffic jams. For a stay in Kazbegi, the best solution is the Rooms chain hotel due to its convenient location with a huge terrace and panoramic views of the mountain range. In Kazbegi they make delicious khinkali according to ancient recipes - with thick gray dough. One of the main attractions is the Church of the Holy Trinity in the Gergeti Mountains.
From Kazbegia we rented a Mercedes V class with a driver and headed to the heart of Georgian winemaking — the Kakheti region. While driving along Georgian roads, you see cows, sheep, and pigs leisurely wandering around the surrounding area. The first wine hotel was Marani Elizbar 1918. By the way, Marani means wine cellar, but today it is more often used to refer to a winery. This small hotel is remembered for its cozy terrace, Kisi Qvevri wine, homemade cheese and Georgian bread, which you can eat endlessly.
Qvevri is a traditional method of wine production, included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. It is believed that this method of wine production is 8 thousand years old and is rightfully the progenitor of modern winemaking. The production principle is aging in clay jugs. During fermentation, cake is involved — grape seeds and peels. These jugs range in size from 5 to 8,000 liters and are buried in the ground, where the year-round temperature is about 14 degrees. The most common containers for production are from a ton to two. Qvevri wines are more tart, tannic and rich in taste and aroma, and in reasonable quantities they also improve the absorption of food and are an antioxidant. If we talk not about home winemaking, but about professional winemaking, specifically about wine produced using the traditional Qvevri technology, in such farms it will be more expensive due to the shortage, and in the most successful years it will be even more expensive.
There should always be a religious part in the cultural program of Georgia, since the Georgian people profess Orthodox Christianity and there have been many Churches and Monasteries in the territories of various regions since the 6th century. I recommend Nekresi and Gremi.
Returning to the vineyards:
— At SHUMI we tried wine from 450 grape varieties in one bottle. The owners collect grape varieties from all over the world and are not afraid to experiment. And sell such experiments for 300 € per bottle.
— In Schuchmann we took a red wine bath from Saperavi and lived with an excellent view of the valley with vineyards.
— Khareba is famous for its mountain wine storage tunnel, cut through with explosives during the Soviet Union. There, as part of a master class, we ourselves sculpted khinkali, made churchkhela, baked bread and ate shashlyk cooked over grapevine wood.
— Monastic wine in Alaverdi, produced within the walls of the monastery by monks. One of the largest wine companies, Badagoni, has restored production in a historically significant location where 11th-century wine cellars were found. A very beautiful place with soft energy.
— But perhaps one of the best wines is produced at the former estate of Alexander Chavchavadze, whose daughter was married to Alexander Griboedov. By the way, at that time, among the frequent guests of the estate were such famous writers as Pushkin, Lermontov and Dumas. This episode cannot be missed when visiting Kakheti due to its historical and cultural significance.
The icing on the cake in Kakheti was the picturesque turquoise lake in the hotel complex — Kvareli Lake Resort. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
Returning through the capital Tbilisi, I will say that I love the city center, especially in places where history and ancient buildings elegantly combine with modern architectural elements.
I love Georgia and am saddened by the difficult relations between our countries. No politics should stand between peoples who had so much in common in the past. Culture should know no boundaries, and nations should be free to express their feelings regardless of any circumstances.