photo Seiran Baroyan / AFP
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.