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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Acclaimed wine writer publishes book about Georgian wine

by Maia Kay Kvartskhava

22.03.2016. Famous American wine writer and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring talks about her newly released book titled ‘For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey Through the World’s Most Ancient Wine Culture.’ [Read also: "Wall Street Journal": A toast to Georgian wine and Book Review: "For the Love of Wine" by Alice Feiring - HN]

This is your fifth book about wine and this time it’s only about one place - Georgia. Georgian people, Georgian wines, food and of course about Georgia’s ancient winemaking culture. Why Georgia?

Why Georgia… When I first landed in Georgia in 2011 for my first visit, I wasn't really thinking about a book. But I quickly realized I had a mission with Georgia. It was an emerging old region trying to bring its wines to the rest of the world. At that time there was a very small clutch of people working old style, very naturally.

At the same time there were many people from outside Georgia who were wine consultants and who were trying to convince the winemakers that they had to modernize; to change the way they made wine; plant other varietals of vines, no matter that Georgia has its own indigenous 525 varieties; that the wine needed to be more modern and palatable to American and European drinkers.

I thought it was a total disservice and I decided that I wanted to do as much as I could to show the world how fabulous Georgian wines are, just the way they are.

In the world of wine writers you are famous for advocating natural, organically made, bio wine with minimal additives. Considering growing international interest, how can Georgia confront modernization and preserve its strategically important product?

At that first international conference in 2011, there were about 7 or 8 Georgian wines. Now, five years later, there are over 30. Not all are commercialized on the international market, but they are well on the way and the sector is growing. The only thing the producers have to do is to show up at tastings and make a little bit more wine so there is more to sell. It’s growing- even the bigger, more commercial, higher volume wineries have revitalized making wine in Qvevri. Now pretty much all have a Qvevri line… And it’s happening not only in Georgia but also in the rest of the world.

Are there any plans to translate your new book into other languages, maybe into Georgian?

Well, that’s not up to me. I would love to see it in Georgian. There is the chance it’ll be published in Georgia, Japan and France as these places are the ones where this kind of wine is extremely popular.

March has been named as Women’s History Month in the United States. The UN also celebrates March 8 as International Women’s Day. What can you tell us about the growing number of women winemakers in Georgia?

This is something that I do bring up in the book in various ways. I think 2013 was the first vintage of ‘Mandili,’ made by two women friends. That was the first wine made by women for Georgia’s market. It was Mtsvane and it was delicious! There is also the Ateni Monastery where nuns have started making wine.

Some years ago you told me that there is no other place in the world where wine is so deeply imbedded into the culture as it is in Georgia. Do you still think so?

I have never experienced a culture that so embraces wine in this way. And I travel a lot all over the world, to the big wine producing countries. People would say: Really? More than in Italy? More than in France? And I say: You have no idea!

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