06.12.2014. It's been a good year for wine in the European country of Georgia. Earlier this year the European Union ended import tariffs on the country, and news from the nation earlier this year revealed a new winery opened in Keda with the help of the equivalent of $600,000 USD given to the winery by Georgia's Agriculture Management Agency, Georgian wine news agency Hvino reported in late November [See: Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking opened new plant - HN].
“The plant is equipped with (the) latest technologies and an international-standard chemical laboratory,” Hvino reported. “The factory will process grapes collected from (the) Guria and Adjara regions.”
Construction on the winery began in April, Hvino reported. Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili “opened the plant and addressed the public at the ceremony with a speech”, Hvino wrote.
The new winery uses a traditional winemaking technique called “qvevri”, which was recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage element in December 2013.
According to Georgia's UNESCO application, the qvevri winemaking method is practiced throughout the country and “could therefore be argued that the entire Georgian nation is concerned with this tradition and considers it to be the most important attribute of its cultural identity.”
The winemaking method is particularly present, the application said, in mountainous regions where vines cannot be grown and grapes have to be harvested in the lowlands and carried up to the mountains.
The opening of the new Keda winery, the lifting of EU import tariffs and the UNESCO designation are indicative of the growth of the Georgian wine industry.
According to Hvino, the number of countries to which Georgia exports wines has grown significantly this year.
From February to July, the number of Georgia's export countries has jumped from 18 to 35.
The total number of bottles the country exports has also seen a sharp rise in the past year. According to Hvino figures, the country exported nearly 6 million bottles of wine in February. In July, Georgia exported nearly 32 million bottles.
Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland and Belarus were to top export countries in July, Hvino said.
Georgian wines are also faring well at international competitions.
This past November, the country took home two gold awards at the 2014 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition.
The two gold medals went to Giorgi Mirianashvili's 2008 Chelti and Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking's 2012 KTW Saperavi Moscato.
The country also took home seven silvers and 10 bronze medals.
In a recent article about the country's ancient winemaking practices, the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Fermented along with the grape skins, the unfiltered organic wines have a high tannin content and a complexity that makes even the white wines stand up to richer foods.”