Monday, April 20, 2015

Wine Portraits: Lado Uzunashvili

by Keto Ninidze

20.04.2015. The plot of classic fairy tale, epos or novel is composed of standard elements - stepping out of the hero from the starting point, adventure and getting back to the starting point again. Starting point could be anything, like a homeland, God, self or other changing idea, it depends whether from what angle we are reading the story.

In my opinion, the story, with the hero in its center - Lado Uzunashvili, Georgian enologist and wine expert, counts its days from the late middle ages and up to now, continuously, in completely different time and environment, from knight clashes to Web 2.0.

For this story, starting point is the village Mukuzani, Georgia, where two brothers, Shio and Makhare were born. Story brings us to the brothers heroic fall in struggle with Acharians, during the reign of the King Erekle II and to the sweetest melodies of Marita, their sister - „გაფრინდი, შაო მერცხალო, / გაჰყე ალაზნის პირსაო“, /Fly away, you black swallow, / trace the edges of Alazani/ (word by word translation), melody as a genetic code, rises up from the sunny soil of Kiziki and recalls in sad, precise and firm melismas of Hamlet Gonashvili and then as an underground flow, will shake the strings of Kizikian roots of our hero and such genetic memory will push him continuously to learn, comprehend the craft, to master and surrender many countries of the world, for returning to Kakheti at the end, village of Mukuzani, earth and sun power, vine, wine or to the starting point. So it is, Shio and Makhare return to their roots in this plot, i.e. to the material image (wine) in which the gene turned to be the most successful and capable.
So it is in brief.

If we gaze through the plot via macro lens, we shall discover life span of several specific persons, but if we look at it from general point of view, we shall see the attitude of the Georgian towards the land and wine.

As for the wines, "Shio" and "Makhare", the first one is the creation of the Company "Mukado" founder, Lado Uzunashvili from Mukuzani village and the other one - "brother", will be born in the nearest future. Winemaker has exceptional attitude to the history, where any story may become the source of inspiration. History is not just a mere bunch of facts, but uninterrupted chain of traditions and values, living drive that may be reflected in any new product.

Biography of Lado Uzunashvili in wine field counts from 1980, from the second enterprise of Mukuzani wine. Motivated and workaholic young boy, having finished technical works in the factory, was presented to receive education in Moscow, from the enterprise. Lado Uzunashvili was enrolled at the faculty of Industry, Food Industry Institute, Moscow and in 5 years completed his BA degree, majoring in winemaking. Soviet education system offered pretty vast, in depth education to the future winemakers in natural sciences. For the future, his knowledge and mind categories were easily "translated" into the "language" of Australian field knowledge. Besides, for then student and alumnus, to stay and continue work and study at the Higher educational institution of Moscow, was a matter of prestige and which was offered at the fifth year of his studies, though he chose to brake the circle, instead of postgraduate studies and chasing for the scientific degree in the Soviet Union. First attempt to continue his studies and practice in Italy was not successful, as it coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, having left the young, talented person without local scientific researches, as well as without the chance to receive the education in Italy.

Notwithstanding his frustration, Lado Uzunashvili never stopped to figure out how to enter those countries, where he could receive diverse and new experiences in winemaking. He was always striving for scientific research, discoveries, searching, new approaches and development. Received knowledge was not sufficient for him and was open to those challenges set in winemaking field, in the wine countries of the new world on the one hand and west Europe on the other hand. Thus, he sent his applications to several countries and received approvals from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the later was the one he chose to visit.

Australia turned to be the cultural shock for the person, whose grammar skills in English language was little inadequate for communications in English speaking country. As for computer skills, no wonder that for the Soviet citizen, pushing the button associated with nuclear explosion. He laughs lot about that period in Australia. Under the support of the Australian Immigration Organization, Lado and his family members passed English language and computer courses via special educational program. Lado personally passed intensive courses to prepare psychologically for the new social and cultural environment, its structure and nature. Very soon, he was received in Angov Wine Enterprise, in Australia, though he was still longing for scientific-research center. Science and joy of discoveries, as well as traveling was leading passion of his life. The passion drove him to the laboratory of the Winemaking Research Institute, where he observed technical and technologic processes of wine refinement, reasons of their instability, creation and selection of technologic processes corresponded to the wine stylistics. While in the Research Center, he worked with rich libraries, for developing his professional mind and visions.

Moreover, in 1997 he founded own Consulting legal entity "Lado Wine Consulting", presently having rich experience and important success. Lado Wine Consulting provides consulting services for the winemaking companies based in Australia, France, Morocco, Japan, Ukraine and other countries of the world. Its products received more than 150 Gold medals at various competitions of the world.

In 1997, in joint project of Australia and Japan, Australian party decided to appoint Lado Uzunashvili on managing position, though some legislative limitations for non-citizen residents prevented the appointment. Notwithstanding this fact, he was so highly demanded person for this project that, the Government approved his Australian citizenship two years earlier.

I can list the international winemaking companies and winemaking organizations, where Lado Uzunashvili worked as wine expert or chief winemaker in Australia, France, Japan, etc. Though, I think that namedropping is not the main issue, but the message of this portrait is quite clear and pragmatic (and not practical or materialistic, but exactly pragmatic) - experience he attracts, he directs towards his environment, his country.

Symbolic capital (knowledge, skills, confession), he attracted within 35 years of experience, he used for the promotion of the Georgian wine around the world. It's been long time since he leads workshops and master classes about the Georgian wine, talking not only about the oldest winemaking tradition, vine kind variety and Qvevri technology, but goes to the depth of every detail, starting from technologic aspects, to the cultural roots, including history and terminology, with its lexicological and semantic aspects.

It should be underlined that, Lado Uzunashvili is the one, who related Australian brand Hugh Hamilton with Saperavi wine. He speaks about such serious and important news, joyfully - how he took a bottle of Saperavi with plastic stopper from Georgia to Australia, almost vinegar and notwithstanding this, it was much appreciated among wine professionals. Notwithstanding increased level of volatiles, Australian winemakers were still able to discover taste potential of Saperavi, which soon was followed by making of Saperavi under Australian brand Hugh Hamilton, which still continues successfully.

We saved heart of the cake for final accord, activity of Lado Uzunashvili, as of the winemaker in Georgia. We dare to say that, important part of the huge and experiences winemaking companies in Georgia "passed their ways in his hands". While cooperating with the above mentioned companies, on leading positions, Lado Uzunashvili created portfolios of GWS, Chateau Mukhrani and Orovela. He was crafting branding-taste design of wine stylistics. As for Chateau Mukhrani, it should be mentioned exceptionally, as his contribution is unlimited towards the Company, at every stage of their activity, starting from the initial concept to the technological perfection, in developing the brand that bears the name of Chateau Mukhrani. As for Mukado, company he founded, each feature of the brand - symbol, message, design and strategy is the part of deep thought, cultivated from the history of Georgia, from local culture.

"Our winemaking should be definitely accompanied by Georgian spirit. Not only the idea, but the axis as well! From the beginning to the end! Built on that axis from the foundation, including future visions, by all means. Georgian spirit should be kept from A to Z!" - exclaims Lado, passionately. At that moment, voice of the well known, successful Georgian winemaker reflects very longing emotional mood and this information, in my opinion, is the persistent gene of the ancestors Chugiashvili, Winemaker of Alexander Chavchavadze, being their devoted successor of their two century old traditions.  

Source  © Georgian Wine Club, Wine Information Center

    Georgian Wine Catalogue      
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