Sunday, June 29, 2014

Georgia goes back to roots in wine-making renaissance

Gela Danelia 
photo Seiran Baroyan / AFP
by Irakli Metreveli, AFP News

29.06.2014. In his wine shop hidden down a labyrinth of narrow streets in Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi, Gela Danelia stares with rapture as sunlight refracts through a glass of his garnet-red produce.

"I only produce some 8,000 bottles per year but what is most important to me is that I restored the technique that was kept secret by generations of my ancestors," the wine-maker told AFP proudly.

It may take Danelia's visitors only seconds to finish a glass, but wine has a heritage dating back thousands of years in the tiny Caucasus nation.

Many experts consider Georgia the cradle of wine-making. Today, Danelia is among a growing number of producers who have gone back to their roots and use age-old methods for commercial production. Their aim is to carve out a niche on the world market for their full-bodied reds and sumptuous whites.

"The unique technique we use is part of Georgia's millennia-old tradition of wine-making," he said. Danelia's exact method is a closely-guarded family secret. But the traditional Georgian process involves storing the wine for months and even years in giant clay vessels, called kvevri, that are buried in the earth. Almost every household here prides itself on producing its own home-made wine using these ancient methods, but until recent years they were not used for larger-scale production.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Wine: The Georgian tradition

by Michael Fridjhon

27.06.2014. Wine is everything from an industrial beverage, a cultural artefact, a work of creative genius and an object of artisanal craft. Not unsurprisingly, it cannot be all these things at the same time.

What is produced in highly mechanised wineries from grapes sourced across a number of appellations is always going to be different from the rustic, but honestly made, craft wine from an almost forgotten valley in the south of Italy. The finely honed and brilliantly calculated masterpiece from a single site within a Grand Cru Burgundy appellation has little in common with a Georgian wine made from saperavi grapes and fermented in clay qvevri.

The idea that there could be a one-size-fits-all regulatory environment around wine production is the kind of fantasy that only bureaucrats could conceive. The Georgians used to bury the fruit from the harvest in clay receptacles and leave it underground through the long cold winter, excavating the fermented juice the following spring. Even today some of the elements of this ancient form of winemaking are still applied by the descendants of the tribesmen who stumbled across the early art of winemaking.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Georgian Dream returns donation to wine producer

by Tatia Megeneishvili

26.06.2014. The Georgian Dream (GD) has released a statement in response to the statement of the State Audit Monitoring Service. According to the statement, the coalition gave the donated money back to Dugladze Wine Company and Geospirtprom. Press speaker of GD Giorgi Gegetchkori said that they returned the money after the Audit Service informed that a law was violated by the donation made by the wine-producing companies.

Gegetchkori said that the election entity is not obliged to control donations. “The account is open and anyone who wants can donate money,” Gegetchkori stated.

According to the State Audit Monitoring Service, companies founded by Russian citizens donated money to the Georgian Dream during the pre–election period.

According to the head of Political Parties' Financial Monitoring Service, Zurab Aznaurashvili, Geospirtprom, as well as the Dugladze Wine Company, donated 20, 000 GEL each to the Georgian Dream on June 20. That was violation of the law prohibiting donations from the citizens of foreign countries.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wine in Georgia's trade with Russia in 2014

25.06.2014 (Hvino News). Georgia’s bilateral trade with Russia increased 35.4% in the first five months of 2014, compared to the same period of last year, mostly due to 3.5-fold increase in Georgian exports, according to the figures released by Geostat on Tuesday.

Georgian wines exported in Jan.-May, 2014 amounted USD 70 million, 2.6-fold increase over the same period of last year, according to Geostat.

With turnover of USD 303.6 million Russia is Georgia’s fourth largest trading partner after Turkey, Azerbaijan and China in January-May, 2014. In the first quarter of 2014 Russia was the third largest trading partner, but 21.7% y/y increase in imports from China in the first five months placed the latter as Georgia’s third largest trading partner with USD 308.7 million.

While imports from Russia increased only by 1% in Jan.-May, Georgia’s exports grew from USD 30.9 million in the first five months of 2013 to USD 108.38 million in the same period of this year. The increase is mostly due to exports of Georgian wines and mineral waters to Russia, which was banned by Russia up until late spring, 2013.

Share of Russian market in exported Georgian wine in Jan.-May, 2014 accounted for 68%, according to the Georgian National Wine Agency (NWA). Russia was followed by Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland, Latvia, China, Belarus, Estonia and Azerbaijan, according to NWA.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

An exclusive glass to be designed for Georgian saperavi by the end of the year

23.06.2014. An interview with president of Georgian Sommelier Association Shalva Khetsuriani.

- Georg Riedel , the owner of the Austrian company Riedel, the world's leading manufacturer of wine glasses, visited Tbilisi. He participated in the work on the exclusive glass for saperavi along with well-known winemakers, sommeliers and experts. What decision was made?
- A prototype of the glass for saperavi was designed and currently under development.

- Who was involved in this process and when it will be completed?
- Up to 100 sommeliers, wine experts participated in the work. The next step is the selection of a particular glass, which will take place by the end of the year.

- Are Georgians included in this group?
- The Georgians are completely involved in the work on design.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Abandoned ancient wine factory reopens in Tbilisi

21.06.2014. Ancient bottles of wine from the private collections of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josef Stalin are being unearthed at one of Georgia’s oldest wine factories.

The historic factory in central Tbilisi lay abandoned for decades but will so reopen to the public today.

The building, named ‘Tbilisi I Wine Factory’ is a cultural heritage site and is located at the end of Melikishvili Avenue on the top of a hill, surrounded by a high fence.

The opening ceremony will offer guests the chance to taste unique Georgian wine and cheese. Traditional wine vessels also will be on show at the open ceremony. The event will begin at 6 PM and is open to anyone who wishes to attend.

One of the most interesting features of the historic factory is the fact it houses wine from some of the world’s famous men.

Two floors below ground-level is an enoteca (basement) wine repository, where wine was aged. In this space, 40,000 wine bottles aged for more than two centuries are currently stored.

Included in the collection are drinks from the private collections of Napoleon Bonaparte, Soviet Union Leader Josef Stalin and other famous figures, which is property of the state.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tbilvino in Russia with a new strategy

12.06.2014. Georgian winemakers tested the ground on the Russian market once again when they increased their export to the country in 2013 after seven years of an embargo. This contributed to Tbilvino achieving 35% growth in 2013. The company is aiming for an extra 30-35% increase this year. Georgian wine has been greatly welcomed by Russian consumers. The 2006 Russian embargo became a useful learning experience for the company, which went on to change its operations strategy by entering new markets. For the first time in the history of Georgian wines, Tbilvino entered the largest UK retail store Marks and Spencer (read more here). The company has been awarded Silver and Bronze medals in London. In addition, the company won Golden Brand 2013.

“2013 was an important year for the industry in general,” Giorgi Margvelashvili, President at JSC Tbilvino, told Georgian newspaper The Financial. “After a very long period, the Russian market reopened to us. This has been a big impetus for the industry. Tbilvino would have managed to achieve 10-15% growth without the Russian market. However, with the Russian market we reached 35% growth in comparison with 2012. One result of 2013 was that Tbilvino became the largest exporter of Georgian wine, for the fifth time. We produced more than 4 million bottles in 2013. The Russian market made up over 17-18%, significant considering the fact that the first batch was sent in August,” Margvelashvili said.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lukasi Chkhaveri Rosé - the new wine release on Georgian market

by Nana Kobaidze

09.06.2014. Several days ago, Lukasi Wine Company had a new release wine presentation of Chkhaveri Rosé. There are only four companies producing Chkhaveri wines in Georgia and it is delightful that now there is one more producer of this varietal added to the list.

Chkhaveri, which is one of the most distinguished Georgian varietal,  is found mainly in the West Georgia, specifically in Guria and Upper Achara regions. Chkhaveri is a pinkish-colored, late harvest grape variety that is usually cropped in late November. It produces wines with a wide range of colors, from white to ruby examples. Since Chkhaveri is less resistant to fungal diseases, like downy or powdery mildews, it was rarely planted, especially in the 19th or even 20th centuries. Chkhaveri has been replaced by hybrid varieties for many years, however, it is becoming more and more common recently.

Chkhaveri is found in several villages of Chokhatauri and Ozurgeti regions including Bakhvi, Askana, Sachamiaseri, Ianouli, Khidistavi, Sakvavistke and Bukistsikhe. The Lukasi Rosé wine is made of Bukistsikhe Chkhaveri. The company team had collected the Chkhaveri crops from door-to-door in the village and made an European style Rosé wine, which was highly praised by the presentation guests. Currently, there are only 300 bottles released. According to the Company Director, Keti Gersamia, they will observe the demand on the market and plan further bottle releases accordingly. We hope, the wine lovers will be delighted by the release of this particularly voluptuous wine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The U.S. Space Administration to study the Georgia's vine samples

08.06.2014. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will help Georgia to prove that the country is  the birthplace of wine, according to Levan Davitashvili, director of the National Wine Agency.

He says that the project, which aims to give scientific proof of Georgia’s status as the motherland of wine, is progressing well and the list of international scientific research centers involved in it includes  NASA's lab, University of Pennsylvania, Copenhagen's DNM Research Center, University of Montpellier (France), University of Milan, and others.

According to Levan Davitashvili, the research project can’t be accomplished in a short period of time, but the Georgian side expects that a lot of material will prove that grape vine domestication and wine production started in Georgia.

Director of the National Wine Agency notes that in April new excavations were carried out in the region of Kartli, and the unearthed artifacts will supposedly prove that  Georgia is the homeland of wine.

"We have a fragmentary material. However, it is not recognized by leading scientists. We are convinced that we are a wine country, but it must be proved scientifically," –  said Levan Davitashvli.


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Saturday, June 7, 2014

China as alternative to Russian and Ukrainian markets for Georgian wine

07.06.2014 (Hvino News). Director of the National Wine Agency Levan Davitashvili gave an interview to Georgian television, which is summarized below.

Russia is the leader of the top five exporting countries, but the market is considered risky due to political factors. Russia naturally is geographic and historical market for Georgian wine, so its leadership is not surprising. The increased exports percentage is reflected in a number of factors. Last year, the figure was approximately 50% in Russia, and this rank is closer to our plan.

However, an increased rate was due to a number of delays in the Ukrainian market because of political factors. You know that the Ukraine is the main alternative and the second export market for Georgian wine. The problems in this country led to an increase in the share of Russia. There were also technical problems on the Belorussian market. Georgian government solved this issue, we visited Belarus along with the representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, resolved all problems  and now the country’s  doors are open for Georgian  wine. This figure is over the past five months and it will be adjusted. Belarus and Ukraine have always been in the top five. However, they have lost their position. If we do not develop the markets in the other direction , on alternative markets, we will be dependent on a single market. One or two markets do not mean diversification.

Are other alternative large markets considered, such as China's market?

37 Georgian wines received awards of International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) '2014

07.06.2014 (Hvino News) The results of International Wine & Spirit Competition 2014 have been announced this week. Georgian wines have received 37 silver and bronze awards of this prestigious wine contest, which is 4 medals more than in last years's IWSC (33 medals were won by Georgia in 2013; 24 medals were won in 2012).

Among 2014's winners one red wine was awarded with Special Silver Outstanding Award: Marani Reserve 2007 by Telavi Wine Cellar (Marani).

Silver Awards:
  • Château Mukhrani Rkatsiteli 2011 J.S.C. Chateau Mukhrani 
  • Château Mukhrani Reserve Du Prince Saperavi 2010 J.S.C. Chateau Mukhrani 
  • Marani Mukuzani 2012 JSC Telavi Wine Cellar 
  • Satrapezo Saperavi 2006 JSC Telavi Wine Cellar 
  • Marani Saperavi Rosé 2013 JSC Telavi Wine Cellar 
  • Tsolikouri Teliani Valley 2013 JSC Teliani Valley 
  • Mukuzani Teliani Valley 2010 JSC Teliani Valley 
  • Chkhaveri 2012 Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tbilisi hosts international wines and spirits exhibition

06.06.2014 (Hvino News) The seventh International Wines and Spirits Exhibition "WinExpo Georgia 14" opens today at the Tbilisi exhibition center "Expo Georgia". It will last from June 6 to June 8.

The best Georgian wine, traditional cheese and wine tourism will be presented. The companies from Georgia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, France and China will attend the exhibition. Up to 70 participants are expected the exhibition.

The Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, the Georgian wine association and the national wine agency are the official partners of the exhibition.

© Hvino News   |  DRINK GEORGIAN!
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hvino's performance became comparable to world's leading wine business medias

03.06.2014 (Hvino News) Georgia's wine business information portal Hvino.com has become comparable to the leading international electronic medias - both in terms of popularity and geographical reach - according to recent research.

During just two years since launch in spring 2012, Hvino became a widely popular online resource read in 145 countries of the world. The table compares Hvino's key parameters - including traffic statistics and costs of advertising - with Drinks International, a well-established British online resource.
Hvino’s Key Media Pack Parameters
as compared to Drinks International*

Key Parameters


Drinks International*


Impressions (pageviews) per month


Over 50,000

Total pageviews, all time history 2012-2014


Not disclosed

Traffic dynamics, percent per month, average
Over 4%, constant growth

Not disclosed


Number of countries reached



Top 5 countries
USA, Georgia, Germany, China, Russia (for Hvino News)
UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia


Facebook, number of likes




Language of communication
English, Russian


Cost of banner ad, per month
US$ 229

US$ 1,911  (£ 1,140)

Discount for contracts over 6 months, percent
Discount for contracts over 12 months, percent
* Drinks International is one of industry’s leading international news medias, published in UK. Its data is used here as a reference.  Website of Drinks International is http://www.drinksint.com/

From the table, one may see that:
  • Hvino's  traffic is about half of Drinksint.com; 
  • Hvino's  geographical reach is comparable to Drinksint.com; 
  • Hvino's advertising price is almost 10 times lower!

Georgia's wine export statistics for May 2014

03.06.2014 (Hvino News). According to the Georgian Wine Agency total of 3,814,0345 (0,75L) bottles of wine were exported in May, 2014. The overall export as of May amounts 22,779,153 (0,75L) bottles to 32 countries, being 147% higher vs last year same period. Exports in value as of May 2014 amounted to US$ 73,795,849 which is 169% higher vs last year same period.

Five leading export destinations of Georgian wine are as follows: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland and Latvia, where Russia holds 68% of total volume of exports. China, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia and Azerbaijan being on 6-10th places in volumes respectively.

Besides, in May 2014 there are 446,654 bottles (0,5L) brandy exported, and as of May 2014, whereas Russia as second with 1,770,846 (0,5L) bottles the same period.

© Hvino News   |  DRINK GEORGIAN!
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Dariali natural disaster caused problems for Georgian wine export

02.06.2014. “Export of alcohol into Russia can only be conducted through the Lars checkpoint.” The natural disaster in Dariali Gorge has completely disrupted our country’s peaceful rhythm. As a result of a landslide, a huge mass of land has obstructed "Georgian Military Road", blocking it along with the Tergi river bed. This brought serious financial damage to the country, the blocked road being the main means of transit with Russia and thus of great importance to Georgian businessmen. We decided to inquire whether wine companies that deal with Russia suffered heavy damage as a result of temporary inability to transport their goods via the main road.

Zurab Chkhaidze, head of Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking company:  “First I want to express my condolences to those who suffered from the natural disaster, regardless of the country they belonged to. Fortunately, our own vehicle managed to outrun the disaster by a hair’s breadth. Our production is subject to excise tax, so its documentation carries a note that it must cross the border between Georgia and Russia at Lars. So we can’t change anything now and are simply standing by, waiting for our product to be transported across the border. As for the damage, there’s currently a 24-hour work shift in progress at the road, and we will continue our activity the moment the road is open again. We have enough of our product in Russia to last us two weeks, so the damage has been superficial so far. If such a hazard appears and the road will not become available for transit, we will have to use alternative ways; Russia will have to acknowledge transportation of cargo via Azerbaijan or Ukraine, for example, enabling transfer through our neighboring countries.”