Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Georgian winemakers look to Russian drinkers

by Manana Vardiashvili

30.04.2013. Six years on from blanket ban, Moscow is wondering whether wine from its southern neighbour might not be so bad after all.

In what could be a major boost for Georgia’s struggling economy, its famous wines may soon be on sale in Russia again after a six-year ban.

Moscow banned all imports of Georgian wine and mineral water in 2006, saying they were a health hazard and contained dangerous substances. Most analysts interpreted this as a form of punishment for the increasingly confrontational relationship between Russia and the administration of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Things only began changing after Saakashvili’s party lost its hold on power in the October 2012 parliamentary election.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interview: Lagvinari – the new Georgian winery from Isabelle Legeron

28.04.2013. With Georgian wine’s reputation growing all the time, we were delighted to hear that Isabelle Legeron MW, author of the website That Crazy French Woman, has set up her own Georgian wine project in Kakheti, producing the natural, artisan wines that are so close to her heart. We caught up with her to find out more.

You have set up a new winery called Lagvinari – can you tell us a bit about it? Where did the name come from?

Lagvinari is an old Mengrelian word for kvevri. The vineyards are located in Kakheti at about 400 m above sea level, with chalky/clay/gravelly soil. A bit of a mix. Climate is very cold and snowy in winter (given that we are in the foothills of the Caucasus) and baking hot in summer, which is why it helps to be at a little altitude.

You are currently growing organic rkatsiteli and saperavi grapes for your wines. Why did you choose those two grapes in particular, and what are their characteristics?

Rkatsiteli is a Kakhetian grape, meaning ‘red horn’ as the stem of the grape is pink/redish when it is ripe. Rkatsiteli is very popular in the Alazani Valley in Kakheti, but is can also be found in Kartli and in small quantities in west Georgia too.

Tbilvino at Emerging Regions Tasting in London

28.04.2013. Tbilvino is offered an opportunity to participate at Emerging Regions Tasting organized in association with Harpers. The tasting has been created to showcase wines from wine-producing regions and countries that are, as yet, relatively undiscovered by the UK market. It is a perfect chance for independent and multiple on and off-trade buyers looking to add new, interesting or unusual wines to their wine list.

At The Emerging Regions Tasting Tbilvino be given the spotlight to demonstrate and show the styles of wines  that would be suitable to the UK wine market.  Besides, the Emerging Regions Tasting provides the opportunity to raise awareness to the UK trade in general of new quality wine producing regions around the globe.

The venue of the event is at 8 Northumberland Avenue in central London, open from 10:00 till 17:30. [Hvino News is proud to be official media partner of Emerging Regions Tasting]

Company news

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good Food Fighter Profile: Irakli Nikolashvili

by Malcolm Jolley

25.04.2013. I met Irakli Nikolashvili at five o’clock on cold November morning at the Tbilisi airport in 2011. I had staggered off of the Lufthansa direct from Munich and he appeared as my guide on a remarkable trip. Over the next few days he showed me the old Georgian capital where he grew up, and Kakheti, the wine region east of it, nestled in the foothills and river valleys of the North Caucasus Mountains, where his family comes from and makes wine to this day.

Irakli splits his time between Georgia and Toronto. Here, he runs Georgian Wine Online, which imports his family’s certified organic Nikolashvili Wines and a handful of other Georgian wineries including Chelti, where he took me on that trip and I enjoyed a long (and delicious) lunch over looking the snowy North Caucasus Mountains. He’s also recently signed up to bring in wines from the Winery Khareba, which sources from vineyards in the western part of Georgia as well as Khaketi in the east.

Irakli presided over a recent tasting of Georgian wines in Toronto at Woodlot Restaurant and Bakery, where proprietor Jeff Connell is a devotee of Georgian (and other natural) wines.


Presentation of Teliani Valley's new "Glekhuri" (peasant) wine series

25.04.2013. On April 23, presentation and press conference of new wine "Glekhuri" (peasant) was held at the restaurant "Bina”, 3/5 Shardeni street in Tbilisi. “Teliani Valley” - the producer of this wine brand - was revealed for the first time at the presentation.

Series of Glekhuri wines includes Rkatsiteli Kvevri, Kisi-Mtsvane, Hashmis Saperavi, Alaverdi Saperavi,  Ikalto Mtsvane. During six days hundreds of people have been tasting and choosing the wines from unknown producer. The process of finding the taste was especially interesting for the Georgians. The variety of Georgian varieties, carefully selected by the wine maker and Georgian traditional method of winemaking united different consumers under this series. Wine lovers have chosen Sakeipo, Mosatsrupi,  Sakhluri.

In the social networks a lot of videos and photos were uploaded by lovers of known and unknown wines as they tasted wine series "Glekhuri" and looked for the most desirable taste for them. Price is available to all segments of consumers of bottled wine.

The mystery of Georgian wine lies in its simplicity and splendor. Vine has always been the muse of a Georgina man. Nobody knows exactly when the Georgian man started to cultivate it, love it. But one thing is clear; vine followed the Georgian man, rejoiced with him and was filled up.  For centuries it grew prettier, wiser and quieter.   Georgian winemaker is still in search of the truth…

(Company news)

Travel to Alaverdi in Georgia and enjoy a wine-tasting holiday with a difference

25.04.2013. Alaverdi Monestry produces 30,000 litres of wine a year using the old qvevri method. At my table are nine people. Eight have long beards and are strictly religious. They are priests and bishops. The other is me. All of us have a glass of yellow wine and are toasting… I am not sure what.

Inside the Alaverdi Monastery, in the heart of the Kakheti wine region, are bottles and bottles of wine that have been researched, studied and cultivated here since the 11th century. Bishop David stands up with the slightest of wobbles. He has engaging black eyes and a raw-boned frame. He is still youthful but this fact is disguised by a long, wispy beard.

Bishop David speaks eloquently about the monastery’s history, or so I’m told. I have no understanding of the language, so snippets are translated for me. Bishop David stands at the head of the table as the ‘tamada’ (toastmaster), elected to toast and maintain discipline. This ancient ritual of host has been preserved throughout Georgian history and continues here, as Bishop David delivers a lament on wine production and the responsibility of the monastery as a wine academy. ‘Wherever there are monks, there is wine being made,’ he says.

The recently excavated eighth-century cellar has been restored and the monastery produces more than 30,000 litres of wine a year under its own label using the qvevri method – which uses a large earthenware vessel to ferment wine – as well as modern methods that use stainless-steel fermentation containers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Georgian minister of agriculture predicts 25% increase in wine export

24.04.2013 (Hvino News). The Georgian Agriculture Ministry predicts an increase in wine export by 20-25 percent with the opening of the Russian market. "Supposedly we shall export 7-10 million bottles of wine this year," Georgian Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze said at the press conference.

According to Kirvalidze, as a result of two inspections of the Russian consumer watchdog, 65 wine companies and two mineral water producing companies received positive estimates. Kirvalidze further said that according to the data for today, seven Georgian companies have already registered the production in the Russian sanitary service, and this process continues. "The export of the first party will already be possible in the near future."

Kirvalidze also noted that the negotiations held in Moscow on April 1 on the export of Georgian agricultural production in Russia were successful. "An agreement in principle has already been reached. Both Georgian and Russian experts continue to work over technical regulations. This process will soon come to the end, and step by step the Georgian fruit and vegetables will be entered the Russian market," Kirvalidze stressed.

Decanter's "Jefford on Monday" on Georgia: Touchdown in Wine Central

by Andrew Jefford

24.04.2013. Empty bottles lined the windows, greening the grey Tbilisi afternoon; I sat next to Metropolitan Davit of Alaverdi in the gathering gloom. We stared together at a deeply coloured white wine in our glasses. It had been made at his monastery.

That wine seemed, strangely, to gather and amplify the remaining light. I asked the bishop (a former architect) what words he might use to describe it.  “Golden wine,” he said, after a pause. “Gold is a thing of great value.  When the painters were choosing colours, gold would give the most depth of impression. The wine has spring aromas, but at the same time those of golden autumn, because it has passed through those periods. You can even feel a bit of winter freeze in it, a coolness experience. If gold could have an aroma and a flavour, this would be it.” And then his iPhone rung.

The following day, I was tasting in the cellar of Alaverdi Monastery in Kakhetia with one of the bishop’s fellow monks, Father Ioseb. The sky darkened as we arrived at the scattered buildings, parts of which have seen 1,000 years of winemaking, and the rain began to spatter. Thunder followed; rain became hail; then the lights went out, sinking us in darkness.  Someone brought candles; the golden wine became more golden still, while the red wine blackened.  “We were waiting for this storm,” murmured Ioseb, a little later. “When the first thunderstorm of spring comes, it’s a sign that the first qvevri should be opened.” (A qvevri is a buried clay fermentation jar.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hvino News is media partner of London's Emerging Regions Tasting

23.04.2013 (Hvino News). Our publication Hvino News is pleased to announce it became the official media partner of the Emerging Regions Tasting, scheduled for May 1 in London.

The Emerging Regions Tasting is a unique platform for showcasing wine portfolios from quality wine producing regions around the globe, interested in raising awareness about their products in UK. The Georgian wine industry will be represented by Georgian Wine Association (Bagrationi 1882, Schuchman Wines, Tbilvino, Winery Khareba) and Marussia Georgia (Chateau Mukhrani).

The event's organizer is William Reed Business Media, a leading information and event producer within the food, drinks and hospitality sectors. More information can be found at the official website.

© Hvino News

Monday, April 22, 2013

Georgian evening in Copenhagen

22.04.2013. Allan Sondergaard is 43 years-old, Danish and born in Copenhagen. He has been married to Lotte for 12 years and together they have a boy Mikkel age ten and a daughter Nora age seven. They live 30 km north of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Allan works as a commercial advisor for an oil company (Shell) and in his spare time enjoy very diverse hobbies like fishing, golf and he creates jewelry and enjoys great food and wine.

Prior to studying together with Georgia Today’s publisher “George from Georgia” (George Sharashidze) in Manchester UK, he admits knowing close to nothing about Georgia apart from where it is and owning a couple of CDs with Georgian born singer Katie Melua. Allan has agreed to tell about the recently-held Georgian tasting event at an informal wine-club in Denmark.

Allan Sondergaard: To give a bit of background we are five couples who are friends and meet regularly. We all share an interest in wine and good food and hence we formed a “wine-club” in 1999 and decided to meet five times a year, the first Saturday of every second month. Each couple hosts one wine tasting a year. The host decides the “theme” of the tasting and the accompanying menu. Every year in July, we have our “general assembly” where we decide on the dates and hosts for the coming year.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scientist's quest for the origin of wine explained at the Cliveden

Dr. Patrick McGovern
by Jana Shea for NewsWorks

19.04.2013 Wine lovers enjoyed tastings and a journey into the past at a lecture titled "The Quest for Wine's Origins" on Friday evening led by Dr. Patrick McGovern, scientific director at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.The event was the second in a series "Who Said History has to be Dry?", presented by the Cliveden.

Every society has its preferred fermented beverage, McGovern said. Wine is one that has played a central role in many cultures.

Wine, intoxicating by its alcohol content alone, also often had healing effects from the inclusion of native herbs, some medicinal. These qualities made wine especially important in religious ceremonies and social life, as well as an agent of creative inspiration.

Archaeological discoveries of vessels containing wine act as "liquid time capsules" to give insight about early viniculture and its range of flavors, he stated.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Levan Davitashvili introduced wine factory "Okami”

18.04.2013. (Hvino News)  Levan Davitashvili, head of the National Wine Agency visited Caspi Municipality and introduced the wine and spirits factory "Okami".

The director of "Okami" Mr. Vaja Ozashvili said that registering of their products in Russia will start soon. He stated that Russian market is very important for them, but it will not replace the existing markets.

According to Levan Davitashvili, 65 wine and alcoholic beverage companies received permission to register their products for export to Russian Federation. As of today, several companies applied to the Russian consumer protection agency. This process is under way.

Mr. Davitashvili said he visited Kakheti Region last week, and observed local factories. He said that the Agency would pay special attention to quality control monitoring.

© Hvino News

Georgian wines may oust Armenian from Russia's market

18.04.2013 (Hvino News) Return of Georgian wines to Russian market may cut growth of export of Armenian wines to Russia, according to Avag Harutyunyan,  Head of Union of Armenian Wine Producers told, interviewed by Armenian news agency Arminfo.

A threefold growth of export of Armenian wines to Russia was planned for the coming five years.  Wine export from Armenia grew 60% in 2012 to 1.185 million liters versus 744,000 liters in 2011, with nearly 75% of sales being in Russia. A few years ago, export totaled 500,000 liters, Harutyunyan said. Georgian wineries have raised significant investments in modernization over the last years and have greatly improved the quality of wines.

"Now, they will offer the best products in the Russia market. Georgian wines are now of higher quality than the Armenian ones, but the prices will be similar. Armenia will have to raise additional investments in modernization of wineries to sustain competition," Harutyunyan aid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Something old, something new: Georgian wines adapt to changing market

Photo: RFE/RL
By Glenn Kates

17.04.2013. Burkhard Schuchmann opened a winery in Georgia because he thought he could compete outside of Russia by modernizing the industry.

Seven years ago, Burkhard Schuchmann, a retired German railroad executive, arrived for the first time in this lush region, where the snow-capped Caucasian mountains cast a long shadow over the grapevines that line the low-lying fields.

It was 2006 and Russia had recently imposed a crippling embargo on Georgian wine.

Schuchmann decided to open a winery nevertheless.

“To see it from today’s point of view, Georgians can be lucky that the embargo came," Schuchmann says. "Because then they were forced to [focus on] quality and to think about marketing. There was no need before.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Georgian water flows again in Russia

by Molly Corso

16.04.2013. After a six-year hiatus, Georgia's famous sparkling mineral water Borjomi is heading back onto Russian supermarket shelves. But a new tax levied by the Georgian government could make the return bittersweet.

Moscow announced it was lifting the 2006 ban on the iconic Georgian mineral water on April 11. Borjomi, long popular in the former Soviet Union as a cure-all for everything from morning sickness to a hangover, was banned when relations between Russia and Georgia deteriorated six years ago due to Tbilisi's deepening relations with NATO and a Russian spy scandal.

Russia's decision over Borjomi has been widely anticipated since billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili came to power after Georgia's October 2012 parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia, has prioritized normalizing trade relations with Moscow and, over the past six months, Tbilisi has worked closely with the head of Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, Gennady Onishchenko, to end the embargo and return Georgian wine, mineral water, and other products to the Russian market.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Daily Glass: Wine Happenings – Georgian Wines and more

15.04.2013. Every week (or almost every week) I think that I should start writing a summary post similar to what Jeff at therunkenccyclist does so well – once a week he produces a summary of the wines he had during the past week (here is an example of his recent post), which I think is a great way to round up your experiences.

My “Daily Glass” designation was supposed to be [almost] a daily summary for me, but as you know, things don’t always work in life as we think they should. Nevertheless, the week which is ending today was very “wine eventful” hence I’m sharing those wine happenings with you.


<...> Now, let’s get to the subject of this post and talk about Georgian and new French wines I discovered.  Last Friday I stopped at  the tasting at Fairway Market in Stamford, where Michael from importing company called Corus was presenting new Georgina wines.  There were four wines included in the tasting, three of them definitely standouts.

Georgia, Cradle of Wine (IWTC 2013)

by Jochen Erler

15.04.2013. This was the title of the closing plenary session at the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop in Croatia 2013 (read more here), and was made by the Georgian National Tourism Administration and the Georgian National Wine Agency. They gave an introduction to the wine industry of their country which has the longest history of uninterrupted wine production in the world. While under the Soviet regime emphasis was given to the volume of output, and this on a surface of 150.000 ha, nowadays only 40.000 ha are covered by productive vineyards. Quality of the wine has increased considerably since having lost the Russian market for the past few years and having established a foothold in other markets.

The development of wine tourism is one of the key targets of Georgia’s Government which has established an ambitious program of education and training for all manpower involved in the wine tourism industry. For each category of stakeholders, such as restaurant staff, winery staff, tour leaders and managerial staff specific and very detailed criteria have been laid down to ensure competence and professionalism for these people.

In addition, the existing wine festivals will receive support and further development. The highlight of the presentation was the announcement that Georgia will be the host country for next year’s (2014) International Wine Tourism Conference. The auditorium responded spontaneously by applauding this announcement. See you there in 2014!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saakashvili has left Georgia without wine?

by Nato Velia

14.04.2013. Many people associate Georgia with wine and grapes. Culture of growing grapes and making wine here is so old that no one can say exactly when it was born. In Georgian culture there are masterpieces of folk poetry praising the vine, comparing it with raising a beloved child. In the villages, people who had a well-kept vineyard, enjoyed special respect. The very international word "wine" origins from the Georgian word gvino. However, in recent years the area of ​​vineyards in Georgia has declined sharply - from 156 thousand hectares to 69 thousand.

The first mass destruction of vineyards in Georgia is related to the name of bloody conqueror of Shah Abbas. History tells us that every his invasion of the country was accompanied by cutting vineyards.

But there were other times when as part of one big country Georgia by Moscow's order produced a million tons of grapes. Now, the figure has reduced to 150 thousand tons. The reason is that during a few years the vineyards has been ruthlessly cut down.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bloomberg: Georgia to resume Borjomi sales in Russia after 7-year ban

12.04.2013. Borjomi, the Georgian mineral water popular across the former Soviet Union, is set to return to Russia following a seven-year ban as tensions ease between the countries that fought a war in 2008.

The company met the required public-health criteria set by Russia’s Rospotrebnadzor consumer-protection watchdog and awaits final registration approval, IDS Borjomi International said by e-mail today. Shipments will be carried out by its local unit, IDS Borjomi Russia, said the company, based in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Russia has prohibited Borjomi imports since 2006, when a ban was imposed on Georgian wine and agricultural products. It will join other Georgian products returning to Russia after the first round of sanitation checks held in the Black Sea country.

A resumption of imports would mark a victory for Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Russian-trained economist and engineer who promised to improve political and economic ties with the country’s northern neighbor following his upset election victory in October over the party of President Mikhail Saakashvili. The two nations fought a war in August 2008 over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Director of "Kindzmarauli Marani": in late April - early May Georgian wine will become available in Russia

11.04.2013. In the end of April or beginning of May the wines by Kindzmarauli Marani will be sold in Russia, according to director Dmitry Lebanidze. In his interview to Caucasian Knot, Mr. Lebanidze said that till the end of this year about 500,000 bottles of wine will be exported to Russia,

According to the director, this wine will cost 6-15 dollars and up per bottle.

Presently, the assortment of Kindzmarauli Marani includes 23 wine names, of which the white and red dry names Tsarskoye Kakheti, as well as the natural semi-sweet Kindzmarauli Original, are the brands of the company.

Levan Davitashvili, head of the National Wine Agency of Georgia, said: "As far as I know, after the companies Kindzmarauli Marani and Wine House Dugladze, the company Alaverdi has also completed the registration process."

However, Zaza Bezhashvili, director of the Alaverdi, could not yet specify to the Caucasian Knot, how many bottles and within what time frame will be exported to Russia.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Discover Pepela, Manhattan's first Georgian restaurant

10.04.2013. With its understated exterior, Pepela can easily be mistaken for another inaccessible New York City townhouse. Once you make your way through the entrance (don't be scared, you're not breaking and entering), you'll be thankful you didn't pass it by.  The classy and spacious maisonette is actually the first Georgian restaurant in Manhattan. We couldn't believe it either, but it's true! Pepela offers the perfect balance of opulence, intimacy and comfort, with their grandiose chandeliers, chic and calmly lit interior, and their über-friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating staff; you'll be sure to feel right at home.

Aside from the awesome staff and decor, Pepela, above all, offers authentic, homemade (close to it, anyway) Georgian cuisine, wines, and cocktails. Some of our favorites from the menu include khachapuri, a Georgian flat cheese bread ($15) and the chikhirtma soup, a yogurt-based soup with cilantro, fresh greens, and chicken breast ($9). A great wine to pair with dinner is the Orovela Mtsvane Rkatsiteli 2007, a Georgian white wine ($12 per glass) or our new favorite liquor, chacha, Georgia's national hard liquor. Be sure to try the Georgian favorite, Chacha Pom, which consists of chacha, pomegranate juice, orange liquor, and lemon juice. Owner, Gabriel says chacha is comparable to a hybrid of vodka and brandy and promises that its consumption will not result in even the slightest hangover. Upon our next visit, we'll be sure to put his claim to the test.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Saveur": Everlasting feast: Food in the Republic of Georgia

By Karen Shimizu

09.04.2013. In the Republic of Georgia, bold, unique flavors, ancient methods of winemaking, and epic meals are at the center of a way of life. I've thought about this meal so many times now that the memory of it feels like a dream: I'm seated at a table whose surface I can no longer see—it has disappeared entirely underneath dozens of overlapping plates. There are only six of us, but the food laid out could easily feed 30. There are loaves of bread; plates of white, salty sulguni cheese; platters of peppery raw radishes, pickled tomatoes, and palate-freshening parsley, tarragon, and green onions; earthenware dishes called ketsi filled with grilled mushrooms and fried potatoes; jars of fresh yogurt and little bowls of rose petal jam and honey to add to it; bottles of tarragon soda; and pitchers of wine, some purple-black saperavi and others amber, apricot-scented rkatsiteli.

It's early autumn, and I'm in a town called Bodbiskhevi in Kakheti, the easternmost region of the Republic of Georgia. We're an hour into a dinner in the backyard of Gela Patalashvili, a winemaker here. His vineyards stretch for miles in every direction. If I squint, the tawny, arid landscape, thickly planted with grapevines and dotted with pomegranate and cypress trees, reminds me of Tuscany—that is, if Tuscany were bordered by the snowcapped Caucasus Mountains and home to a 7,000-year-old winemaking tradition. Gathered around the table are my husband, Chris, and a handful of Georgian and American expat friends. After a day of helping Gela pick plums from his orchards, we've been invited to join him for dinner, which, as dinners tend to do in Georgia, has turned into a several-hour feast called a supra (meaning "tablecloth" for the way the food covers the table), a celebratory meal involving structured toasts, wine, song, and lots and lots of food.

Xinhua: Georgian wines, mineral water to re-enter Russian market

09.04.2013. Georgia's agriculture minister said Monday Russia would soon reopen its market to the country's wine, fruit, vegetables and alcoholic drinks.

Georgian and Russian specialists would continue working on technical regulations before Georgia could resume its exports to Russia, Davit Kirvalidze told a press briefing on Russia's recent inspections of Georgian wine cellars and mineral water bottlers.

Russia banned imports of Georgian wines and mineral water in 2006 due to quality problems. However, the Russian Agriculture Ministry has conducted two field inspections in Georgia so far this year as part of moves to restart the trade.

In the first inspection in February, 36 of the 37 wine cellars and all four mineral water bottlers inspected passed quality tests. In the second inspection, between April 1 and 5, 35 more Georgian wine cellars were inspected.

According to the Georgian Agriculture Ministry, two of the inspected wine cellars have already registered their products with the Russian authorities for export.


Russian importers to order excise stamps for Georgian wine

09.04.2013 (Hvino News). Russian wine importers are preparing for work with Georgian products: this week they will order excise stamps. According to the head of the Russian consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Gennady Onishchenko, the Georgian producers were given the opportunity to supply their wines to the Russian market this week.

So far 40 kinds of wine of only two companies (Kindzmarauli Marani and Dugladze Wine House) have been registered.

Russian importers of alcohol are already preparing for the delivery of wine from Georgia. For example, MoRo company  from Moscow says that they will send an application for excise stamps for Georgian products this week. The first batch of excise stamps will make 100-150 thousand. During the first month, the company expects to receive 30-50 vehicles of Georgian wine. Each vehicle holds 18 thousand bottles.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Agriculture minister: Georgian wine, fruit and vegetables to enter Russian market soon

08.04.2013 (Hvino News) Georgian wine, alcoholic beverages, fruit sand vegetables will enter the Russian market in the near future, Minister of Agriculture David Kirvalidze said at a press conference today.

Mr. Kirvalidze informed that on April 3 the Georgian delegation signed the agreement  at the Federal Service on Customers’ Rights Protection and Human Well-being Surveillance of Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture (Rospotrebnadzor). Kirvalidze said Georgian products will no longer be exported in a chaotic manner. Mr. Kirvalidze says that Georgian and Russian specialists will continue to work on technical regulation. Fruits and other agricultural products will be exported starting from autumn.

As a result of the first part of the inspection, 37 wine and alcoholic beverage and 4 mineral water producing companies were checked. 36 wine and alcoholic beverage and 4 mineral water producing companies successfully passed the test and received permission to register their product for the further export to Russia.

Kirvalidze said from 1st to 5th of April, the second stage of inspection was conducted. The other 35 wine producing companies were checked.

The first year of Hvino.com

by Alexander Kaffka, publisher

In April 2013 our project www.Hvino.com celebrates its first anniversary.

It was conceived in spring of 2012, after publication of my article For A More Attractive Georgia: A (friendly) view from abroad in the Georgian business daily The Financial. The article attempted to draw attention to insufficient media and PR support of Georgia’s “signature” export products, including wine and tourism.

The readers’ comments to the article suggested that the author should take the effort to improve the situation. After some reflection, I decided to launch the project, which later was called Hvino (the Georgian word for wine). Today Hvino consists of 3 business news and information platforms focusing on Georgia. They are targeted at international readership and published in English and Russian languages.

If you are reading this, chances are you are well familiar with Hvino News – our flagship – and there is no need for further bragging about our daily wine news and information services. We are proud, however, that during just one year our resource has won wide popularity and readership in over 100 world's countries. Hvino has been quoted in numerous international media, including leading industry magazines such as Wine Spectator. Hvino News has became official media partner of several leading industry events, including ProWein in Dusseldorf.

We are honoured to be the only Georgian media resource listed in the official ProWein's List of Publications.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of good fairs, the real story, and Georgian wine culture

07.04.2013. A good fair encapsulates the best of all possible wine worlds. Exuding positive energy it creates an aura of fun and friendliness. No-one would deny that this wine may flaunt its imperfections or that wine may not accord to a certain taste, but when growers radiate such bonhomie and when the wines themselves radiate individuality, then healthy creativity collides with receptive aesthetic and visceral appreciation, and the resultant sparks further galvanize the event, making it an oh-so refreshing alternative to the usual humdrum tasting forums devoted to narrow commercialism. A good fair lives up to being both good and fair!

Sans corporate bigwiggery, sans wheeler-dealing, sans profit,  sans suits and suitors, natural wine fairs are designed (in as far as they are designed) to foster the spirits of enquiry, camaraderie and copinage. They advertise without fanfare the virtues of organic and biodynamic farming and the positive way that low intervention winemaking can extract and interpret the nuances of terroir and the originality of the vintage. The Real Wine Fair itself is big enough to present a healthy cross-section of what is going on in the, ahem, alternative wine world, and to demonstrate the sheer variety within it, yet not so unwieldy as to be too big for its drinking boots. The buzz this year was palpable, the growers visited by many curious customers, but not so many that they became little more than animated pouring machines!

Russian inspectors banned 12 Georgian companies from exporting wine to Russia

07.04.2013. (Hvino News) The Russian consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor barred 12 Georgian winemaking companies from exporting products to Russia during the second inspection on April 1-5, Rospotrebnadzor's chief Gennady Onishchenko said on Saturday.

"Among the companies that we inspected this time, 12 will not be given permission to deliver their products to Russia," Onishchenko said.

Russian specialists visited over 30 Georgian companies during the second inspection, some of them registered as owned by several legal entities, Onishchenko said. "The reason for our denial is noncompliance of the logistics and technological base and wine production technology with our requirements concerning wine products," Onishchenko said.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wine and visas

by Georgy Kalatozishvili

06.04.2013. Several weeks have passed since the “sanitary inspection” of experts of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare in Georgia. Russian Chief Sanitary Inspector Gennady Onishchenko gave permission to about 40 Georgian makers of wine and mineral water to sell their products in Russia, although he then suddenly announced that “Borzhomi encountered problems”.

Russian inspectors were very welcome. Head of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II met them personally, a very rare occurrence not only for the Church. Although President Saakashvili called the hospitality “an expression of slavish psychology”, his escapade gained little attention. The president compared Georgia with Germany where “no one would allow some third-rate Russian functionaries for inspection or pour beer saying “Bitte, Bitte, Russischen Revisor”.

The arguments were indeed perceived by the Georgian society. The injury caused by the “bitter defeat” in 2008 has not been treated and President Saakashvili may still play with people’s emotions. But the most important thing is that the Georgian establishment and Ivanishvili’s government have found a consensus on “return of the Russian market”.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"The Guardian": Doing the chacha

Photo: Vano Shlamov/Getty
by Dan Peleschuk

05.04.2013. A few shots of the national drink allow travellers to gaze on Tbilisi with fresh eyes. Our guide, Lasha, couldn't find any other words: "Have a couple shots," he kept saying with a wry smile, "and you'll be set."

All afternoon, Lasha's attempts to describe the taste, strength and effects of chacha – Georgia's national spirit – had left us intrigued. We had spent the day touring the picturesque south Caucasian country, known for its majestic peaks, savoury cuisine and the hospitality of its locals. And Lasha, naturally, served as our source for all matters of local history and culture. But whenever the conversation turned toward chacha, a predominantly grape-based liquor reputed for its flavour and strength, he seemed at a loss for words.

So in the evening, as we headed back towards the capital of Tbilisi, a forlorn, roadside mess hut caught our attention. "Maybe they have it," Lasha wondered aloud as we pulled over.

12 Georgian organic wine producers will take part in ViniVeri exhibition in Italy

05.04.2013 (Hvino News). National wine agency of Georgia and 12 natural wine producers will take part in the international exhibition ViniVeri in Italy. The exhibition will be held April 6-8 in Cerea (Verona region). It will be attended by more than 130 companies from Italy and other European countries producing organic and biodynamic wines.

The exhibition will be attended by 12 Georgian companies: Pheasant's Tears, Alaverdi Monastery Cellar, Iago's wine, Jakeli Wine, Cellar of Nikoloz Antadze, Kahaberishvili Cellar, Our Wine, Gaioz Sopromadze Cellar, Nikoladze Cellar, Nika's Cellar, Teleda, Twins Wine House.

© Hvino News

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Al Jazeera": Georgia frets at embargo with a long vintage (video)

04.04.2013. Qatar's TV channel  Al Jazeera featured video report "Georgia frets at embargo with a long vintage". Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports from the Georgian capital Tbilisi. A Georgian delegation is attempting to convince Russia to rebuild trade links. Georgian wine, water and fruit producers are hoping a trade embargo by Russia could soon be lifted. Russia introduced the ban in 2006, pointing to quality concerns, but some Georgians believe it was actually a political move.

Georgia and Russia: From war to wine and walnuts

by Giorgi Lomsadze

04.04.2013. After a Kremlin-imposed diet of several years, it looks like Russia is about to open up to non-grata Georgian fruits and veggies, Georgia's food agency announced on April 2.

The agency claimed that negotiations in Moscow with its Russian counterpart, succinctly known as Rosselkhoznadzor, went well and that, after some changes in agricultural regulations, a taste of Georgia will soon reappear in Russian salads and pirogis.

But, of course, Russian officials want to be the first to get that taste. In what is slowly turning into supra diplomacy, they've been invited back to Georgia to munch on tomatoes and cucumbers at an unspecified date in the future.

If wine is any test, though, the final burp of approval might be some time in coming. Only two Georgian wine brands so far have passed muster with Russia’s food security agency, Rospoterbnodzor; its fastidious experts apparently opting to bring back banished Georgian wines glass by glass.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Georgia to resume export of beer to Russia

03.04.2013 (Hvino News). Georgian producers are going to resume export of beer to Russian market. According to ITAR-TASS, this was announced by Levan Davitashvili, head of the National Wine Agency.

"A delegation of Russian experts will soon visit our country to inspect Georgian breweries which want to supply their products to Russian market," Davitashvili said.

According to Davitashvili, in Russia there "was and remains a definite demand for beers produced in Georgia." He added that the brewers "would have to undergo the same procedure as wine producers."

Meanwhile, Georgian mineral water Borjomi is still unable to return to the Russian market. "We have troubles with Borjomi", head of Rospotrebnadzor, chief sanitary doctor of Russia Gennady Onishchenko said. "We will demand to submit samples again," he added.

On Monday this week, Rospotrebnadzor experts departed to Georgia with a second inspection to check the 37 companies producing wine.

© Hvino News

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marketing in Russia: Georgian wine should not return to the Russian market with "old historic hopes"

02.04.2013. Is it necessary for Georgian wine to hold marketing activities to achieve success in the Russian market? Georgian wine companies have already started to think about some marketing activities.

As Marani Khetsuriani's director Shalva Khetsuriani says, marketing activities are  essential due to the fact that along with nostalgia towards Georgian wines, a skeptical attitude towards the  products is also observed in Russia.

"Big efforts will be needed to return to the Russian market and conduct marketing activities. During a period when the Georgian wine was not sold in  the Russian market, it  has gained a new customer who is not familiar with Georgian wine, "- Khetsuriani notes.

In his words, the company has already started to work on this issue and they have already prepared a list of 50 marketing activities that are to be conducted in the Russian market.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Alcohol found in Georgian-made cola from Putin's residence

01.04.2013 (Hvino News) Russia's Rospotrebnadzor consumers' rights watchdog discovered considerable level of alcohol in Georgian-produced Coca-Cola, according to Interfax agency.

The level of alcohol in cola probably is not regulated by Georgian state norms, Rospotrebnadzor's spokesperson commented, and maybe is caused by effects of local spring water used in production, or other production processes.

Journalists discovered Georgian-made Coca-Cola in the press-room of  President Vladimir Putin's residence on March 14. Coca-Cola produced in Georgia and discovered at Putin's residence was sent to Rospotrebnadzor for checking. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on March 14 that one bottle of the Georgian-made coke was sent to Gennady Onishchenko "for safety’s sake."

Temur Chkonia, owner of Coca-Cola Bottlers Georgia, stated earlier in his interview to Georgian newspaper Rezonansi, that his product was purchased specially for the Russian president.

Second Russian inspection to check 35 Georgia winemakers

01.04.2013 (Hvino News). Second group of specialists from Russia’s Rospotrebnadzor consumer rights watchdog will inspect 35 Georgian wine-making companies that were not checked during its first visit. According to Georgian National Wine Agency, Russian specialists will also “familiarize themselves with the activity of two wine laboratories”.

The first group of Rospotrebnadzor specialists visited Georgia from February 25 to March 1 and checked 37 local winemakers and four companies producing mineral water. As a result, 36 wine producers and four companies producing mineral water have got the right to export their products to Russia and are now undergoing the procedure of registration in Russia. It is expected that first export batches of Georgian wine will go to Russia in May.

Also on Monday, Georgian Agriculture Minister David Kirvalidze expressed optimism about prospects to resume this year exports of Georgian agricultural products to Russia.

© Hvino News

Georgia, Russia to discuss supply of agricultural products

01.04.2013 (Hvino News). Georgian delegation will discuss export of agricultural products with Russia's  Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) in Moscow, representative of the National Food Agency of the Georgian Agriculture Ministry Giga Kurdovanidze told journalists on Monday.

"The meeting will take place on April 2," Kurdovanidze said.

Earlier he said that probably the delegation will include seven people, including representatives of the various services in the field of veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance. The delegation will be led by the National Food Agency head Zurab Chekurishvili.

Also earlier Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said that in addition to wine and mineral water, the country intends to supply all kinds of agricultural products to the Russian market.

Import of Georgian wine, mineral water and agricultural products was banned in the spring of 2006. It happened against the backdrop of aggravation of Georgian-Russian relations.

© Hvino News