Friday, December 19, 2014

Wine Culture Foundation's Vivanco to support Georgia's wine museum

19.12.2014 (Hvino News). Wine museum project has been discussed at the meeting of Georgian government representatives with Mr. Santiago (Santi) Vivanco, founder of Wine Culture Foundation.

Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, who initiated the idea of founding the wine museum, was present at the meeting with the representative of world famous Vivanco dynasty.

Santi Vivanco expressed his readiness to participate in the implementation of the Wine Museum Project in Georgia.

Created in 2001, the Vivanco's Foundation operates its Museum of Wine Culture, which was inaugurated by King of Spain Juan Carlos I in 2004.

"I am happy to support such an important project as the wine museum in Georgia, as your wine is a father of wines in the world. I think, everyone who loves wine should visit Georgia", - Santiago Vivanco said after the meeting.

The meeting was attended by the Agriculture Minister Otar Danelia, Deputy Agriculture Minister Levan Davitashvili and Ambassador of Georgia to Spain Zurab Pololikashvili.

© Hvino News

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Georgia-EU: Has Georgia made the grade?

19.12.2014. The European Parliament yesterday ratified the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia. 490 deputies voted for the document, 76 were against, 57 deputies abstained. During the vote in the hall of the European Parliament were present the current president of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, and ex-President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has been put on the wanted list in his country.

Economic expert Irakli Lekvinadze said what Georgia expects from the Association except the opening of borders. "This is a very important agreement for us, both politically and, of course, in economic terms. One of the points of the agreement is free trade, and for us this is very important. In the first place, of course, those companies that export their products from Georgia to Europe will benefit: before September 1, they paid customs tariff, from September 1 this tariff does not exist. This will affect those Georgian companies that export wine and various fruit concentrates to the EU, providing additional revenue. This is one of the benefits that we got in Georgia after ratification of the treaty," the expert said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014: Hvino publishes the 3-rd Media Rating of Georgian Wine Companies

17.12.2014. (Hvino News).  Since 2012 in the end of each year Hvino News calculates the Media Rating of Georgian Wine Companies. In 2014, for the third time in a row Hvino News prepares its analytic report, which is now based on 3 years of our global media monitoring. This year's result has become known today.

The new leader of Media Rating is Marussia Georgia (with brand names Chateau Mukhrani, Tamada, Old Tbilisi). Congratulations to Marussia Georgia!

The former ratings' leader Tbilvino went down to second place.

Telavi Wine Cellar (Marani) has made a huge progress in 2014, rising from 7-th place to "Bronze".

Teliani Valley, the "Silver" winner of 2012 and 2013, has fell by two positions and is on 5-th place, which it shares with Winery Khareba and Wine Man.

The number of mentions of other companies can be seen from the table (click on the image to enlarge).

Last years' Media Rating results can be found here and here. Our media data includes both the international English-language media monitoring and the articles published by Hvino News under its own copyright. Hvino News was the first to conduct regular media analysis of Georgian wine industry.

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Devaluation of the ruble caused damage to Georgian exporters

17.12.2014. The devaluation of the Russian ruble caused damage to Georgian exporters.

Georgian businessmen constantly focused on the possible political risks in doing business in Russia are in danger for an entirely different reason - the rapid devaluation of the ruble significantly affected the solvency of the population, as a result, the sales of Georgian companies fell sharply.

According to the CEO at Tbilvino George Margvelashvili, depreciation of the ruble leads to a rise in price of imported goods.

"Our partners have to hike prices, and this hinders trade networks to take products. Therefore, importers have to reduce supply. If all continues in the same manner in 2015, our exports to Russia will be quite modest, "- he notes.

Nutsa Abramishvili, CEO at Schuchmann Wines, has the same opinion. "As a rule, in December, in the New Year's period, the demand for wine in Russia is traditionally very high, but this year the consumer activity was on the rise in September-October. Due to the economic situation in Russia, in the 4th quarter we fulfilled the export plan to this country only by 50%. In general, devaluation of the ruble weakens importers, who are afraid to buy Georgian wine in large quantities. Today, no one can predict what will happen in the future, "- she says.

The financial crisis in Russia has created problems to Capma, Georgian producer of canned food and juices. According to Lasha Pkhadadze, the company’s CEO, at this stage there are serious problems with exports to Russia which are associated with the devaluation of the ruble.

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Georgian winemakers expand export geography

17.12.2014 (Hvino News). In 2015, Georgian wine companies plan to expand their sales markets, according to a review published by Georgian Kommersant.

According to George Margvelashvili, CEO at Tbilvino, in the coming year the company for the first time will begin exporting to Australia, Panama, and Cuba.

In his words, a forecast concerning Russian market is adverse due to the economic crisis in Russia.

"Russia accounts for only 25% of our company’s exports, so we are not dependent on the Russian market. With regard to the European Union, it is a stable market but we do not have a particular sales growth in Europe. In the long term this is a very serious market, but at this stage we do not expect growth, "- he says.

Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking company representative says  they started successfully export to Thailand, and in 2015 it is planned to start exporting to another Asian country, although they did not specify to which.

Marani Khetsuriani company says that in 2015 it is planned primarily to increase sales of wine in the local market as well as exports to the EU, Asia, and Russia.

© Hvino News

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Gaanatlos Ruben Tkeshelashvili!

15.12.2014. Some may know him as "The General," others, simply as Ruben.  He was a qvevri wine maker in Racha, a mountainous region in the Republic of Georgia known for a semi-sweet red wine called Khvanchkara. We were visiting Iago's Winery last weekend when I happened to mention to my friend Irakli that he really needed to pay a visit to Ruben before he died. Iago told us he had died two days ago.  I think he was a national treasure.  I had the honor of visiting his marani last October with my Rachan guide Natia and my friend Nicoletta.  I went to Racha to lean how to make a bean pastry called lobiani, but I was also on a mission to meet Ruben.  We visited him unannounced one morning and he was there, in his camouflaged glory, grumbling to himself about the inconvenience. A grumpy, opinionated old man whose eyes sparkled with the joy of living.

He was alone now, but he spoke proudly of his highly educated granddaughter who spoke perfect English.  His qvevri were buried under about a foot of mud. He placed some snacks on a table in his marani and then went to work to open one for us with the help of local young vigneron, Aleco Sardanashvili.  They poured the luscious and precious wine into a doki, with small glasses that resembled Turkish tea glasses, we toasted to our health, to Georgia, to our families and many other ideas and things.  Natia informed me we had to toast and accept the wine and to drink it with him or we would be breaking all the laws of hospitality. By about 11am, I was completely inebriated. He poured another doki, and we, his guests, had to toast. Passing the toasting to another person in Georgian is called alaverdi (like the wine making monastery in Kakheti).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Georgian grapevine in Brazil - Olá Usachelari!

Photo: vinoge.com
by Nina Akhlouri

14.12.2014. About 4 years ago, James Carl, a Brazilian acupuncturist, could not imagine that winemaking would become a significant part of his life. Indeed, as he told us, one never knows “where your heart may lead you.” A growing interest in winemaking led him to start studying catalogs and scientific articles on grape varieties as well as climatological findings of the South of Brazil. James’ interest was soon drawn to indigenous varieties from Greece, Georgia and Portugal. He came to the conclusion that the most resistant varieties to his country’s climate conditions were Georgian and Portuguese ones (for humid and mountainous regions) as well as Greek varietals (for hot regions).

“My heart was captured especially by Georgian grapes, by their aroma and unique taste. I also realized that Georgian varieties would not be challenged by the humid conditions of the region. After all, in Brazil, we constantly strive against moisture. Therefore, I contacted the Georgian Embassy in Brazil and asked them to help me get in touch with a researcher of Georgian grapevines. They gave me a phone number of professor David Magradze. Since 2012, we have been in contact with each other every now and then,” James told us.

During that time he was introduced to José Ayub, the owner of Campos de Cima winery, which is located on the Western Border of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, near the borders with Argentina and Uruguay. The Ayub family produced their first wines from their own grapes in 2006. The vineyards have an elevation of 180 meters, located in the Pampas. They only started building their own winery in 2012. It is a boutique winery with a small production, aiming for high quality wines. Carl and Ayub, along with Michel Fabre, a French winemaker, hope that Georgian grapevine will suit the terroir of Pampas, which has hot weather conditions during summer and low temperatures in winter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tbilvino wine to sell in Poland's largest retail chain

12.12.2014 (Hvino News). On December 4th Biedronka began sales of Alazani Valley red medium sweet wine produced by Tbilvino under the Didebuli trade mark.  This is the first time Biedronka sells Georgian wine in its shops.

Biedronka is the biggest chain of supermarkets in Poland with (nearly 2,400 shops and 37,000 employees), owned by the Portuguese company Jerónimo Martins. Literally, the name translates as ladybug, which is the logo of the company. It is one of the best recognized companies in Poland (98% of the population).

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

How a CD in the state of Virginia led to a wine rebirth in the country of Georgia

Photo PRI.org/Bruce Wallace
by Bruce Wallace

11.12.2014. John Wurdeman grew up in Richmond, Virginia — and that’s where he happened upon a CD that would change his life.

It was a collection of traditional music from Georgia, a tiny country in the Causcasus Mountains south of Russia. Today he lives there, and has devoted his life to preserving Georgian songs, food and even wine, at his vineyard, Pheasant’s Tears.

Here's Wurdeman's story in his own, lightly edited, words:

In 1991, I skated to this alternative record shop, and there was a CD in the front of the row called “Georgian Folk Music Today.” So I bought it, popped it in the stereo, and was just blown away by the harmonies.

That’s how it all started.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Georgia exports wine to 46 countries

06.12.2014. The number of countries importing Georgian wine is increasing, resulting in more Georgian wine being exported and enjoyed all around the globe.

From January 1 to November 30, Georgia exported wine to 46 countries, reported the National Wine Agency of Georgia (NWA).

Georgia exported 55.2 million 0.75 litre bottles of wine, valued at $174 million USD.

Of this, Russia obtained 35.2 million bottles, which was 63 percent of total exports, NWA said based on latest state data.

Wine exports increased in both volume and in value in the first 11 months of the year.

"Snooth": New Georgian winery opens with help of government funding

by James Duren

06.12.2014. It's been a good year for wine in the European country of Georgia. Earlier this year the European Union ended import tariffs on the country, and news from the nation earlier this year revealed a new winery opened in Keda with the help of the equivalent of $600,000 USD given to the winery by Georgia's Agriculture Management Agency, Georgian wine news agency Hvino reported in late November [See: Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking opened new plant HN].

“The plant is equipped with (the) latest technologies and an international-standard chemical laboratory,” Hvino reported. “The factory will process grapes collected from (the) Guria and Adjara regions.”

Construction on the winery began in April, Hvino reported. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili “opened the plant and addressed the public at the ceremony with a speech”, Hvino wrote.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Schuchmann Wines reduces wine exports to Russia

05.12.2014. Georgian wine company Schuchmann Wines has expanded export markets - in particular, the company starts selling products in Mongolia, Japan, and Cyprus.

According to the CEO Nutsa Abramishvili, sales in Russia have reduced due to the company’s entry into other markets. It is expected that in 2015 the company’s total exports will amount to 1.5 million bottles.

"The entry into several very difficult but very promising for the country markets will allow to popularize Georgian wine and Georgia as a whole. Our company intends to export mainly wine produced with traditional Georgian method using kvevri. Development of wine-making means the development for the country as a whole, "- Nutsa Abramishvili notes.


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Exports of traditional Georgian giant wine jugs increased

05.12.2014. After a traditional Georgian giant jugs for the production and storage of wine - kvevri - were recognized as a cultural monument by UNESCO, winemakers are seeing an increase in popularity not only wine produced in this way, but also kvevri abroad.

Furthermore, their shortage is even being observed.

Georgian pitchers received a monument status in 2013. Read more here: Georgian qvevri wine-making method approved for UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List.

The then Deputy Minister of Culture of Georgia Marina Mizandari stated that such status obliges the country not only to protect kvevri, but also to promote this method of wine production.

"The status of a monument of culture is very important in terms of marketing, because finding kvevri in the list of UNESCO cultural heritage makes it more recognizable globally," - she said.

House of Wine company claims that the wine produced in kvevri has several advantages, although the status by UNESCO did not affect their work. According to the company’s manager Maya Nodia, kvevris are interesting to a narrow circle of people interested in winemaking.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Georgian wine prices to rise in Russia

04.12.2014. Will the ruble’s depreciation cause a hike  in prices of  Georgian wine on the Russian market? What risks are the Georgian winemakers talking about and what are  the Russian side’s requirements? At this stage  exporting companies have already received the first messages from  the Russian partners.

Georgian wine price will rise on the Russian market – the Georgian winemakers forecast in the backdrop of  the Russian ruble’s devaluation.

Exporting companies say they have already received the first messages from  the Russian partners.

Georgian winemakers name several reasons for wine price increase.  The main one is  the record-beating increase of prices registered during a vintage. Price for  saperavi grapes was GEL  2.5  per kg in 2014 which is about 50%  higher than in 2013. It is also important that this year up to  90 companies  have purchased  an unprecedented number of overall crop (119 052 tons).

The Sommelier Association states that the ruble’s devaluation does not affect sales at this point. However, the Georgian businessmen will have  to raise prices and  revise a volume  of export products in the future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Chicago Tribune": Nation of Georgia a religious experience in many ways

by Terri Colby

03.12.2014. Bordered by the Black Sea, Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains, this small country of 4 million people is more popular with Russian and European tourists than with North Americans, who must make a flight connection in Europe to reach Georgia. It was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity, which means amazing churches to explore, and Orthodox Christianity now is the state religion, practiced by 85 percent of the population.

Wine truly is a religious experience: Christianity was brought here in A.D. 337 by a 12-year-old nun carrying a cross made from branches of grape vines. Nearly every family home in the countryside — and even some in the cities — has a small vineyard for producing wine for family use. Forget about barrels: Georgian wine is produced in clay pots known as a qvevri (pronounced kwe-ver-ee) and buried underground.

Fermented along with the grape skins, the unfiltered organic wines have a high tannin content and a complexity that makes even the white wines stand up to richer foods.

"Decanter": Georgia government backs wine industry revival

by Eugene Gerden

03.12.2014. Georgia's government has agreed to fund a new winery that is set to be one of the country's largest, as part of plans to overhaul the sector and increase exports.

Government funding will be provided to build a new winery in the area of Keda, in Adjara, a ministry of agriculture spokesperson told Decanter. [This winery in Keda has been opened on November 22, read here: Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking opened new plant - HN].

Financial details were not disclosed, but the winery is set to have a processing capacity of 12,000 tonnes of grapes per year and this could be increased further in future. More wineries could also be funded in future.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Georgian chacha wins silver award in Chicago

02.12.2014 (Hvino News). On Nobember 26th Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) in Chicago awarded Silver Medal to Marani Chacha Saperavi. Chacha is Georgian type of grappa.

BTI's resume for the winning Georgian spirit reads: "Clear color. Complex, spicy aromas of fruit cake, praline, and roasted nuts with a soft, bright, dry-yet-fruity light body and a breezy cream of wheat, malted vanilla honey milkshake, and papaya finish. A tasty, elegant grappa".

The Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) is a marketing service company that provides reviews for spirits, wines, and beers. The judging ratings range from 96 to 100. BTI uses a tasting lab in Chicago.

© Hvino News

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Hvino": new look, new possibilities

30.11.2014 (Hvino News). Our regular readers have noted the recent change in the reader interface of Hvino News and its Russian version Hvino-Novosti: both wine news websites have now got background images. This is new way of advertising, available to companies which became Hvino's "Gold Partners". Hvino is pleased that the leading wine producers of Georgia are now using Hvino's background for their brands promotion.

Telavi Wine Cellar (Marani), one of Georgia's largest wine producers, became the first company to launch long-term cooperation with Hvino. Starting from September 2014, Marani has become "Gold Partner" of Hvino NewsIn November, yet another leader of Georgia's wine sector - Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) - entered into "Gold Partnership" with Hvino-NovostiAs Hvino specializes in covering wine business news of Georgia since 2012, it is an honour for us to partner with this industry's leaders.

For Hvino, 2014 has been very productive. Earlier this year we launched the first online Georgian Wine Catalogue with an independent rating of wines. Currently the Catalogue lists all Georgian wines, which either have won gold medals at the world’s largest international contests, or have been rated by leading international wine rating institutions.

As a fast-growing company, now Hvino comes up with a new project, again. This time we are expanding beyond the limits of online mass medias, offering our first printed publication on Georgian wine. This is full-color 32-page leaflet entitled Selecting Georgian Wine, which will be distributed free of charge!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Badagoni to begin exports to United States in 2015

28.11.2014 (Hvino News). According to Liza Bagrationi, PR officer at Badagoni, the company is in  negotiations regarding wine exports to USA in large quantities.

"Unfortunately, Georgian wine is still traditionally focused on the Russian market. What we are doing now will be a serious penetration into the US market, and we are preparing for it. We are talking about a rather serious segment, and we are  likely to begin exporting in 2015, "- she notes.

Badagoni Wine Company, previously known as Wine-Making Chevalier (Knight) was founded in the Kakhetian village of Zemo Khodasheni in 2002. Currently the company owns more than 300 hectares of vineyards of selected local grape varieties in the districts of Kvareli, Mukuzani, Akhasheni, Ojaleshi. Badagoni exports wine to 19 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, China, Germany, since 2007.

According to the National Wine Agency,  36 million bottles of wine were exported to  38 countries in 8 months of 2014 – that is 69% higher than in the same period of 2013. The leader of the export markets is Russia, its share in export of wine is 65% - during this period over 24 million bottles of Georgian wine have been sold in Russia. Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland and Belarus are included in the top five exporting countries.

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"The Japan Times": Get an early start when hunting for Georgian wines

by Melinda Joe

28.11.2014. Waltz, a tiny standing bar that specializes in natural wines, is nearly impossible to find the first time you try looking for it. On a recent Saturday evening, the bar’s obscure location — on a dimly lit backstreet between Tokyo’s Ebisu and Shirokane neighborhoods — confounded me and two of my friends, as well as the GPS function on my cellphone. Waltz’s service info lists no phone number, probably because the bar fills up so quickly that owner Yasuhiro Ooyama has little time to field calls from lost customers. By the time we arrived, the watering hole, which can fit around 10 guests, was already packed with regulars sipping glasses of unfiltered vin naturel in various hues and nibbling on homemade charcuterie — and the doors had only been open for 20 minutes. At 6:30 p.m., Ooyama began turning customers away.

My friends and I had gone to Waltz in search of Georgian wines. Earlier that night we’d attempted to visit La Pioche, a bistro in Ningyocho that importer Yasuko Goda of Racines had recommended for its selection of kvevri wines. Much to our dismay, La Pioche was closed when we got there, although I later learned that the bar usually offers a few Georgian vintages that change with the owner’s fancy (like several natural wine bars in the city, La Pioche rejects the notion of a regular wine list).

We were about to give up when I remembered that Goda had also suggested checking out Waltz and Rakki, a Chinese restaurant in Gaienmae owned by Shinsaku Katsuyama, who also runs the venerable natural wine bar Shonzui. As we had time for only one glass of wine, we headed to Waltz. Once again, however, luck was not on our side.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"The Japan Times": Get a taste of Georgian wine at Festivin

by Melinda Joe

27.11.2014. In the four years since it started, Festivin has grown from an intimate gathering of natural wine enthusiasts to one of the most eagerly anticipated wine celebrations in Japan.

Like many avant-garde movements in the food and beverage world, the idea for Festivin began at a party, when Shinsaku Katsuyama, one of the early pioneers in the Japanese natural wine scene and owner of wine bar Shonzui in the capital’s Roppongi district, suggested that a group of importers, shop owners and journalists join forces to host a natural wine event. Approximately 2,200 people attended the third edition of Festivin in 2012, more than double the attendance of the first event, and the turnout is expected to rise when the fair returns to Tokyo on Nov. 30 for its fourth edition.

Part of what attracts so many people to the event is the fact that there’s something new to look forward to every time. Along with food and musical performances, Festivin 2014 will feature more than 300 natural wines from producers in Japan and around the world. This year’s lineup includes eight winemakers from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who will be pouring a selection of unique wines fermented in large, egg-shaped clay vessels called kvevri.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking opened new plant

22.11.2014 (Hvino News). Today Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) opened  its new plant in Keda, Adjara region.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili opened the plant and addressed the public at the ceremony with a speech.

The project costed about 1 million GEL (around 600 thousand USD), which was allocated based on law-rate credit of Agriculture Management Agency.

The plant is equipped with latest technologies and an international-standard chemical laboratory. The factory will process grapes collected from Guria and Adjara regions. The construction started in April, 2014.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Georgian Wine: Rebooting the Cradle of Wine [Part 1 of 2 On Georgian Wine]

21.11.2014. Passport…check.  Power plug adapters…check.  Load up iPod with new music…check.  Pack clothes for as many different types of weather because I have absolutely no idea what to expect…check.  Girlfriend gives me drugs for the 12-hours of flight time each way…double check. That was pretty much the process I went through after I got the word that I was headed to the Republic of Georgia for an introduction to their wine & culture.

Although it’s known as Georgia internationally it turns out they have their own name for their homeland, Sakartvelo, a name derived from the core region of the country Kartli.  So why then is it known elsewhere as Georgia?  There are a few explanations, but it is likely that their devout national Christian beliefs and the patron saint of the country, St. George, have much to do with it.  This is not to mention that Georgian men named George are as common as Americans named John, and the the red cross of St. George is prominently featured through the middle of the national flag.

Another reason for the separate names is that it is very hard to establish an international identity when, throughout history, your country is constantly being invaded and absorbed into whichever conquering power is marching through the region.  The Ottomans, the Romans, the Persians, and the Soviets have all claimed it at some point. Yet somehow through it all they still remain proudly Georgian.


Upon my arrival it turns out that Georgia is completely unlike whatever few preconceptions I had beforehand.  The most important of which is this: Georgia is NOT…I repeat…NOT Russia! As a self-proclaimed map nerd I already knew that it has been a sovereign nation since the USSR dissolved in 1991.  But as you look at how close it is to Russia one starts to think that they must be pretty similar people.  Then as you continue to look at how many other cultures surround Georgia – Turkey to the southwest, Azerbaijan to the southeast, Armenia to the South – you start to see that this country is influenced by many different types of people, religion, and cultures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

KTW to open new winery in Keda, Adjara

19.11.2014. (Hvino News) Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) is planning to open its new plant in Keda, Adjara region, on November 22.

According to KTW's director Zurab Chkhaidze, the new winery will process about 600-700 tons of grapes.

The construction began last April, and costed 1 million GEL (about 559.000 USD). During the ceremony  of project launch Zurab Chkhaidze and Chairman of Ajara government Archil Khabadze declared that the enterprise will start to work by the end of the year.

Zurab Chkhaidze noted that a tourist complex would be located in the area of the factory, where visitors will be able to learn about the history of Georgian wine and taste it. Winery will have its museum and premium wine cellars. They will open next year.

The investor also plans construction of fruit processing plants in Keda.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to clean a qvevri (video)

by Alice Feiring

18.11.2014. During my last trip to Georgia, the country was in the middle of harvest and Iago Bitarishvili (Iago's wine) had a big problem.

He needed help cleaning qvevri.

This is one of the most important tasks when working with  those big vessels. Without a proper and throrough cleaning the  resulting wines would surely be a mouse bomb.