Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Georgian winemakers to Putin: thanks for the cold shoulder*, Vlad

by James Duren

27.05.2015. History would advise against crossing a powerful Russian politician.

The tiny country of Georgia learned this lesson nearly a decade ago when a spat between then president Mikheil Saakashvili and Russian president Vladimir Putin resulted in a political jab which hurt Georgia in the short-term, but proved to be a significant boost in the long-run.

“Through the Soviet period and into the 1990s, Russians filled their glasses with Georgian vino. That changed in 2006 when, tensions flared between … Putin and … Saakashvili,” The Washington Post reporter Jenny Holm wrote this past week. “Russia banned imports of wine and spirits from the country in a thinly veiled move to chastise its government.”

Faced with the loss of its top export market – 80 to 90 percent, Holm said – Georgia and Moldova, who also faced Putin’s wrath, had to refocus their export efforts. They set their sights on the United States and Europe, shunning the superpower which had shunned them.

Amendments to Georgia's Law on Vine and Wine

27.05.2015. On May 22, National Wine Agency introduced the prepared amendments to the Law of Georgia on Vine and Wine to the Parliamentary Committee on Agrarian issues. Deputy Minister of Agriculture, David Galegashvili, the representatives of Kakheti regional administration, Association “Georgian wine” and wine producing companies also attended the meeting.

"The work has long been carried on the Law of Georgia on Vine and Wine. There are quite a lot of changes, but the basic policy and approach remains unchanged. The aim of amendment is the improvement and harmonization of the law with the international legislation. In addition, the law should be clear for everyone to amend easily. At this point, the Government is currently working to draft the details together with the Ministry of Agriculture "- says George Samanishvili.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Marani's new bottling line

24.05.2015. JSC Telavi Wine Cellar [known under Marani brand name - HN], the company with delicately paired modern technology and time-proved traditions, has reached the point when it is equipped with latest technologies and particularly the production line of finished goods. This production line was designed and assembled in Italy as a result of cooperation between leading wine equipment manufacturers and the founders of Telavi Wine Cellar. It took more than a year to build the equipment.

The production line  provides an automatic procedure for each of the wine bottling operation with the maximum result of six thousand bottles per hour. This is a unique bottling line, which is currently the only one in the Caucasus.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Euronews on Georgian wine history: Evidence of ancient wine found (video)

23.05.2015. Archaeologists are hard at work sifting through the dirt at a dig in Imiri, south-eastern Georgia.

The scientists believe that the site contains artefacts that could once and for all prove that Georgia is the oldest wine producing country in the world.

Eight thousand years ago, during the neolithic era, farming and agriculture were flourishing in the three villages that now make up the Shulaveri – Shumitepe Cultural ruins in Marneuli Valley.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Georgian wines win 16 awards at International Wine Challenge

22.05.2015 (Hvino News).  16 Georgian wines have received awards of  International Wine Challenge (IWC), including 4 silver awards. The results of annual IWC competition were announced recently in London.

Georgia's overall performance in 2015 was average, comparable to results of  2013 and 2012, when Georgia won 15 and 12 IWC awards respectively, and no gold awards. But in 2014 Georgia achieved huge success with 32 awards including gold (see more detail here).

Called "the most comprehensive and influential blind wine tasting competition in the world", the International Wine Challenge (IWC) is owned by William Reed Business Media, and is now in its 32nd year. Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal-winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges and awards include medals (Trophy, Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended and Great Value awards.

Full list of Georgian winners follows below:

  • Kisi-Mtsvane, 2013, Teliani Valley
  • Kindzmarauli Teliani Valley, 2013,  Teliani Valley
  • Saperavi, 2014, Schuchmann Wines Georgia
  • Saperavi, 2013, Tbilvino

How Vladimir Putin created America’s new hot wine: "Washington Post" on Georgian wine

by Jenny Holm*

22.05.2015. A thorny international skirmish between Russia and its former Soviet states has been a boon for Georgian wine-makers.

A man with high cheekbones and deep-set eyes waves toward our car from among the grapevines. It’s mid-October and the grapes have all been picked, but drying leaves rustle like flags in the breeze.

I’m at Iago Bitarishvili’s winery in Chardakhi, Georgia. This former Soviet country is, legend has it, the birthplace of wine. People have been fermenting grapes here for several millennia longer than anyone in Western Europe. Many families still make their own wine at home, bottling it in plastic jugs for communal consumption at weddings, funerals and feasts.

For centuries, though, Georgian wine has stayed something of a regional secret. But Bitarishvili is at the forefront of a revolutionary effort to change this. The owner of Georgia’s first certified organic vineyard, Bitarishvili is a steadfast champion of the most traditional methods of production—he uses only natural yeasts and ferments his wines in huge clay vessels buried underground. Some vessels are more than 300 years old. “Georgians have been making wine this way for 8,000 years,” he says. “I am continuing that tradition.”

6 Georgian wine names will be protected in Armenia

22.05.2015 (Hvino News). Intellectual Property Agency of Armenia has granted titles of protection for six appellations of origin of Georgian wines. Georgia's National Wine Agency was granted an exclusive right on appellations Tsinandali, Akhasheni, Kindzmarauli, Khvanchkara, Manavi, Mukuzani in the territory of Armenia.

Sakpatenti (National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia)  has filed applications with the Intellectual Property Agency of the Republic of Armenia a year ago, which were successfully registered after the completion of internal procedures.

Sakpatenti notes in official release that protection of appellations of origin will further prevent counterfeiting and unlawful use of the appellations of origin of Georgian wines in Armenia.

Georgia has been actively working to protect its original wine appellation names from unlawful use in several countries, in particular USA and Germany.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Snooth": A reverence for Georgia wines

by Christy Canterbury MW*

20.05.2015. Wine geeks are sometimes told to lighten-up. Wine is “just a drink”; “just a grocery”. When it comes to serving whites at 42 °F versus 47 °F  [5 °C and 8 °C respectively - HN], matching wines to specific glasses and pairing Assyrtiko rather than Sauvignon Blanc with crudo, I agree. However, I suggest you don’t tell a Georgian to chill about wine. In this dramatically rugged Caucasus Mountains country, wine is holy. And not just the communion wine.

Wine is part of the Georgians’ sacred trinity, along with the motherland and the mother language. It is so holy, I feared expectorating (or as lightened-up folk say, spitting) at a wine-producing monastery. When I persisted in doing so later on my eight-day trek through eastern Georgia’s Kakheti region, I received some disapproving looks.

While all wine is revered, those made in qvevri (pronounced kwev-ri) are the most precious. Qvevri are fired clay vessels lined with beeswax that look like super-sized amphora. They are easily 1,000 liters large and are buried in the earth for fermenting and aging wine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Georgian wines at RAW Fair in London

19.05.2015 (Hvino News). Georgian wines were presented at the RAW, the artisan wine fair  in London on May 17 - 18.

The Georgian winemakers are traditionally well-represented at RAW. While Nika Bakhia, Beka Gotsadze, and Naotrebi brought their wines to RAW in person,  14 more wines from other small producers were delivered to the fair by Georgia's National Wine Agency. Those wines were grouped together on Georgia's "Multi-Grower Selection" table (wines by Petriaant Marani, Jakeli, Teleda, Temi, Satsnakheli, Twins Wine Cellar).

Featuring around 150 growers, RAW wine section is one of the most exciting collections of fine, organic and biodynamic wine artisans. According to RAW's release "their wines are pure, kind to the planet, very possibly better for your health and best of all they're absolutely delicious".

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

5 countries declared as priority export destinations for Georgian wine

17.05.2015. In 2015, exporters of Georgian wine will place particular emphasis on strengthening their presence in five countries - first and foremost they are China, Great Britain, USA, Poland, Japan.

According to Director of the National Wine Agency George Samanishvili, diversification of supplies will enable Georgia to reduce its dependence on a specific region, and in the long term to find an alternative to the Russian market.

"In addition to China, we have chosen a number of priority countries. Private companies also took part in their selection, as their opinion is very important. We chose five countries such as China, Poland, the USA, Great Britain and Japan. These are countries where there is the prospect of growing sales,"- he says.

According to him, concrete results are already evident. "Our markets are much more diversified than it was in previous years. We hope that progress in this direction will be continued. Now the share of traditional markets in the post-Soviet space in total exports has reduced and the share of other countries is growing, "- George Samanishvili notes.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Georgian wines won 4 medals at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2015

15.05.2015 (Hvino News). The results of the 2015 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) have been released recently. The competition took place at the Italian sea resort of Jesolo on May 1-3.

Over 8,000 wines from 45 producer countries competed before a selection of the world’s foremost tasters. 299 wine tasters representing 49 nationalities gathered for 3 days to judge entries. At the end of the competition, only those wines that have achieved the highest scores are eligible for the prestigious medals.

Georgian wines have won 4 medals: 2 Gold and 2 Silver (note that at CMB three types of medals are awarded: Grand Gold, Gold and Silver). The Georgian winners are:

- Château Mukhrani Réserve du Prince - Goruli Mtsvane 2012, Kartli, J.S.C. Château Mukhrani
- Mtsvane White 2014, Kakheti, Schuchmann Wines

- Château Lipartiani White 2012, Imereti, Winery Khareba
- Krakhuna White 2014, Imereti, Winery Khareba

Chateau Mukhrani presented among world’s best wines in New York

15.05.2015 (Hvino News). Chateau Mukhrani was the only Georgian wine brand presented among the world’s 50 best wines during a prestigious fund-raising event The Triumph of The Wine Culture, held at the United Nations offices in New York, on April 30, 2015. Organized by American Friends of Cité des Civilisations du Vin, the event was opened by French former prime minister Alain Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux.

The event  featured wines from over 50 countries, food prepared by some of New York’s finest chefs, musical entertainment. The wine and food extravaganza was held at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations. The best wines from more than 50 countries was available during an “around the world” wine tasting and food pairing.

Cité des civilisations du vin is an exciting international center dedicated to wines and civilizations in Bordeaux. It  is the only museum in the world dedicated to wine civilisation as a universal, cultural, symbolic phenomenon. This is the world’s largest cultural centre dedicated to the universal, living heritage of wine: around the world, throughout the ages, across countless cultures and civilisation for visitors to discover.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chinese agriculture minister visits Tbilisi and Kakheti

12.05.2015 (Hvino News). Han Changfu, minister of agriculture of China, met his Georgian counterpart Otar Danelia and prime minister Irakli Garibashvili in Tbilisi on May 11. “Importance of promoting export of Georgian agriculture products was emphasized during the meeting,” the Georgian PM’s office said. “Deepening of trade and economic relations with China is of special importance for the Georgian authorities. Recent significant increase in dynamic bilateral partnership has also been noted.”

The ministers of agriculture of the two countries signed a joint action plan for cooperation in the agrarian sector. On the first day of his visit on May 10, the Chinese Agriculture Minister visited some of the Georgian wineries in eastern region of Kakheti, including Badagoni and Winery Khareba.

"Georgian wine has a huge potential to establish itself not only in the Chinese but the world market. At the same time it is very important to support tea culture. We want to share our experience in this direction, which will be very useful for Georgia,” Changfu said. Georgia has already developed a strategy and Action Plan for developing the agricultural industry, and this was "a guarantee for great success in this sector,” he added.

China is fifth largest export market for Georgian wine.  494,478 bottles of Georgian wine were exported to China in the first four months of 2015, which is 87% increase over the same period of last year.

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A Moselle man is to promote Georgian wine

Photo Hilarius Pütz
by Rudolf Knoll

12.05.2015. Georgia is probably the oldest wine country in the world. Grape seeds found there suggest that wine was first produced there 8,000 years ago. But tradition did not protect from the turbulences the region has experienced during the past decades. Now Hilarius Pütz, who was born in the Moselle region, is to promote viticulture in this country located in Eastern Europe.

Since 1985, times have been hard enough in Georgia. At that time Georgia belonged to the Soviet Union and cultivated over 100,000 hectares of vineyards. But then head of government Gorbachev wanted to fight alcoholism in the Soviet Union, so he also targeted viticulture. By then Georgian wine had almost had cult status in Moscow and other Soviet metropolises. But due to the restrictions many vineyards had to be given up. Then the Soviet Union broke apart. In 1991, Georgia became independent but first it experienced a civil war, and in 2002 an earthquake.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Exports of Georgian wine fell down by 58% in January-April

06.05.2015. In January-April 2015 the export of Georgian wine to 26 countries has decreased in comparison with the same period in 2014 by 58% and amounted to 7.9 million bottles.

The decline in exports is still associated with the economic crisis in two major countries importing Georgian wine – Russia (decline in exports by 76%) and Ukraine (57%). At the same time, exports increased to countries such as China (+ 87%), Belarus (27%), Japan (9), Canada (250), Britain (+ 79%), Estonia (+ 16%), Poland (+ 7%), Germany (+ 6%) and the USA (+ 6%). According to the National Wine Agency, April was more active in terms of exports than the first three months of 2015. In particular, in January export made 1.3 million bottles, in February – 1.5 million, in March – 2, 1 million, and in April – 2.8 million bottles.

“According to the forecasts of winemakers, in May export growth is expected as the national currency has begun to stabilize in Russia, respectively, the situation in the country is more or less stabilized”, - points out the National Wine Agency. Despite significant reduction, Russia remains the main importer of Georgian wine – in January-April exports to that country amounted to 3.2 million bottles. Followed by Kazakhstan – 1, 5 million, Ukraine – 873 516, Poland – 519 576 and China – 494 478 bottles. In January-April 2015 the export of Georgian wine amounted to 23, 4 million bottles.


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Kate Gersamia: “The name Lukasi is after our son". Exclusive interview of Hvino News with owner of Lukasi Winery

05.05.2015 (Hvino News). “Unless the wine is good no branding can really help you”, - says Kate Gersamia, owner of the boutique Lukasi Winery. Today Ms. Gersamia is the guest of Hvino News, and she kindly agreed to answer our questions.

We suggest starting the interview with your company’s brief outline. Can you tell us several main facts about your company today? 

Since 2009 Lukasi has made a limited quantity of high-end premium quality wines. Annual output is limited to 10-12 thousand bottles. We consider ourselves to be a boutique winery producing only the best Georgian wine. Our most important achievements are the numerous international awards that Lukasi wines have won. This we consider to be not only our company’s achievement but also a great achievement of Georgian wine, the latest being the Double Gold and Diamond trophy in Japan for a very unique Georgian wine made of Chkhaveri grapes [read more here]. This year we are also expecting to receive quiet a few awards, hopefully.

We wish you much success, and will cover your achievements. Let's talk about the Lukasi brand. Are you creator of your brand? If yes, how was it made? 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Georgian wine-tasting held at OIV in Paris

01.05.2015 (Hvino News) On 29th of April 2014 a selection of Georgian wines were presented in Paris at International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV).

About 350 guests attended the wine-tasting event, including Georgian Ambassador to France HE Ms. Ekaterine Siradze-Delaunay, Director General of the OIV Mr. Jean-Marie Aurand, President of the National Wine Agency of Georgia Mr. Giorgi Samanishvili. The Ambassador recalled that Georgia, the heart of the Caucasus, was one of the cradles of world viticulture. For millennia the vine are grown in ideal climatic and geological conditions. The oldest seed, collected in several points of the country dates back to at least eight thousand years BC. Now in Georgia 525 indigenous grape varieties are grown.

The Director General of the OIV Mr. Jean-Marie Aurand welcomed the event and thanked Georgia for its strong involvement in OIV activities since the World Congress in Tbilisi in 2010. Mr. Aurand stressed the revival of Georgian wines. "Small wine producers, cooperatives and independent wineries are rivaling in quality", - stressed Mr. Aurand.

Good work, sister: The rise of women wine makers in Georgia

Photo: Sarah May Grunwald
by Sarah May Grunwald

01.05.2015. Last spring I met Georgia's first female owned wine company and have had the privilege of following them for an entire year, from vineyard to qvevri, to bottling. In Georgia, men have traditionally been in control of the 8,000 year old qvevri wine making process, so these women, along with another young woman named Mariam Iosebidze who started her own wine company in 2014, are at the forefront of a change in culture and attitudes towards women in Georgia. I have interviewed these women and tasted their wine and I would like to share their stories over the next few months. For now, a short introduction to the First Ladies of Georgian wine; Marina Kurtanidze and Tea Melanashvili of Mandili.

To preface, Tea is my very good friend, she is simply someone I adore, and Marina is a dear friend as well who is a force to be reckoned with. Besides friendship, they have been a big part of my shift in thinking about how women in the west view women in other parts of the world. In short, we believe that we have it better and that those “other” women are not as liberated.  Before I went to Georgia, I was told that it was an extremely sexist country where women were not treated well and that, in fact, I should avoid going there. So during my first trip, I made a few cultural faux pas having this attitude in the back of my head. I met Tea at Vino Underground, a wine bar in Tbilisi that focuses on natural wines, and learned that she was one of Georgia's first female wine makers. I was intrigued. How could it be possible in this country? We tasted her wine, and I was hooked. Not only was I impressed with Tea for making strides in the wine world, I was impressed with her wine, Mandili.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Georgian wine tasting in French Riviera's Cap d'Antibes

30.04.2015 (Hvino News). On April 27 an important Georgian wine tasting event was held in Cannes, France.

National Wine Agency presented 12 varieties of wine, produced by 7 companies: Shalauri, Winiveria, Chateau Mukhrani, Iago's wine, Teleda  / Vita Vinea,  Schuchmann Wines.

At the event, which was held at Le Cesar restaurant in Cap d'Antibes, dozens of sommeliers had the opportunity to learn more about Georgian wines and grape varieties, and the the country’s wine culture and ancient history of winemaking. Anna Godabrelidze, chairman of wine-tasting commission of the  Agency, said: "This is especially important now, when Georgian wine businesses are searching for new markets and potential importers”.

The event was organized by Georgian Alliance Vins (an importer company), Sommelier Association of Côte d'Azur (ASNCAP), and Embassy of Georgia in France.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2015 New Wine Festival's participants list revealed

by Keto Ninidze

29.04.2015. The selection process of family wineries for New Wine Festival is over. An unprecedented number of wineries will take part in the festival this year. 55 winemakers will represent 72 varieties of wine from Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti and Racha regions, see the list below.

On April 25, in the village Chardakhi of Mtskheta district, "Georgian Wine Club" organized wine tasting to select family wineries. A committee consisting of 11 people which was composed of enologists, winemakers, winegrowers, writers and wine enthusiasts, gave positive feedback to most of wines out of 110 registered ones. The committee members were adviser of the chairman of National Wine Agency, Goga Tevzadze, president of the Wine Club, Malkhaz Kharbedia, director of New Wine Festival,  Iago Bitarishvili, enologists - Kakha Tchotiashvili, Nikoloz Natroshvili, Vano Shiukashvili, and Mikheil Meskhi, journalist and wine writer – Aleko Tskitishvili, wine club members and wine enthusiasts - Vano Stefanashvili and Avtandil Kobakhidze.

Georgian wine at Seoul's SWS Expo

29.04.2014 (Hvino News). Seven Georgian wine and brandy producers and the National Wine Agency took part in the Seoul International Wine and Spirits Exhibition (SWS Expo), which took place in the capital of South Korea on April 23-25.

The following companies were represented, in a common booth: Shumi, Telavi Wine Cellar, Winery Khareba, Armazi Wines, Kakhetian Wine Cellar, Kakhuri, Sarajishvili.

The Georgia's ambassador to Korea, Mr. Nikoloz Apkhazava, attended the opening ceremony. Ambassador Apkhazava is well known for his wine-promotion activities in Korea (read more here: Envoy's Georgian wine push continues, Envoy's wine promotion takes patience, Georgia's envoy pursues ‘wine diplomacy’).

SWS Expo brought together about 200 companies from 20 world's countries, and was attended by over 30000 visitors, many of whom are professional buyers including wine and spirits importers, representatives of hotels, restaurants and retailers.

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Georgian wine in focus at New Wine Festival 2015

29.04.2015. The sweet smell of Georgian wine will soon spread through the air of Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi.

Dedaena Park in central Tbilisi has been named as the new venue for the sixth annual New Wine Festival 2015, which will showcase more than 70 high quality Georgian wines from all around the country.

In previous years the festival was held at the Ethnographic Museum near Turtle Lake.

Today organisers revealed initial plans of the event and said almost all of Georgia’s largest wine companies, some smaller cellars and family wine producers from different regions of Georgia would participate in this year’s festival.

The Georgian Wine Club, which is organising the event, said the New Wine Festival 2015 would offer guests the chance to taste a "full array of excellent wines” from large and small wine producers all over the country.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Archaeological dig could prove Georgia was birthplace of vine culture

28.04.2015. Intensive archaeological excavations currently taking place in Georgia could prove the country was the birthplace of vine cultivation.

Georgia’s Minister of Culture and Monument Protection Mikheil Giorgadze visited Imiri village in Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli region today where excavations are currently taking place. The findings of the dig could prove that ancient people from this site first used wild grapes and vines for health, religious and spiritual reasons, with the vine culture later spreading around the globe.

Since ancient times in Georgia, the grape vine and wine has been closely related to cult and religious rituals. This was true for Georgia in both pagan and Christian times. Still today, grapes, grape juice and its products occupy an important place in the diet of the Georgian people.

In 2014 the National Museum and the National Wine Agency implemented a joint international project to research the history of Georgian wine, which involved an archaeological dig. The Government-supported project, titled ‘Research of Georgian Vine and Wine Cultures’, revealed some of the artifacts uncovered in the excavations.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Qvevri wines and Georgia’s wine tourism potential presented in Kazakhstan

27.04.2015. Georgian Experience presented Otskhanuri Sapere, Krakhuna and Tsolikouri made with traditional method in qvevris by Lagvinari during Kazakhstan International Travel Fair in Almaty.

The Georgian stand welcomed visitors interested in the history of traditional Georgian winemaking and, of course, the tasting of natural Qvevri wines. The event was organised by wine tours operator Georgian Experience and supported by Georgian National Tourism Administration.

“The audience was very diverse and curious about new tastes from Georgia as well as wine history itself”, - Davit Jishkariani, the host of the event, noted. “We can say our word in wine tourism as here in Georgia wine, culture and history are intermixed, Uplitshikhe is a good example where you can stroll through the streets of 2nd millennium B.C. cave town and see the wines presses cut out in rocks as well as ancient Qvevri’s used for fermentation and this will be followed by tasting of wines made by the same traditional method by young and enthusiastic winemakers around. Uplisikhe is just one of quite a few prehistoric wine artifacts not to mention number of others connected with later Christianity all around Georgia.This is the experience hard to find in any other winemaking country."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Georgian wine exported to China’s Xinjiang province to increase threefold

24.04.2015. One of the biggest importers in China’s Xinjiang province is planning to import half a million bottles of Georgian wine – a threefold increase on its current quota, announced Georgia’s National Wine Agency.

Agency representative Maia Tskitishvili held a business meeting with Xinjiang Beifangjianda Trade Co. Ltd leaders, where the sides agreed to deliver three-times the amount of wine to the Xinjiang province than current rates.

The host company organised for Tskitishvili to meet with local media in the Georgian Wine Club, located in the capital of the region Urumqi, where she spoke about the historic and cultural uniqueness of Georgian wine and the importance of the Chinese market in the expansion of Georgian wine abroad.

She also outlined the contribution of the Xinjiang Beifangjianda Trade to the increasing awareness of Georgian wine and culture in China.