Wednesday, October 17, 2012

U.S. Government supports international certification opportunities for Georgian agriculture products

17.10.2012. On October 17, 2012, at 12:00 pm, USAID’s Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) will host an event at Tbilisi Marriott to award two local laboratories, Multitest and Wine Laboratory, with international accreditation certificates as part of U.S. Government support for Georgia’s economic growth and the enhancement of competitiveness of Georgian products (see also: Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export).

USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin will attend the event along with representatives of Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, American National Standard Institute (ANSI), Georgian Accreditation Center (GAC) as well as local laboratories, food processors and supermarkets.

Universally recognized and accepted test results and certificates from these laboratories will validate the quality of Georgian produce and enable Georgian exporters to have a better access to more high-end markets such as established supermarket chains.

Georgia in my wine

 by Jurgen Gothe

16.10.2012. Random House of Canada has opened a Vancouver food-and-drink imprint called Appetite with a new edition of wine guy James Nevison’s  Had a Glass 2013, subtitled “The Top 100 Wines Under $20”. It’s a noble challenge he’s set himself and it follows on the heels of several previous vintages, which he coauthored with long-time tasting partner Kenji Hodgson.

The above-referenced little book led me to a Georgian wine that has become a favourite on my table: Marani Mtsvane. is a specialty listed white priced at a most reasonable $11.90. I didn’t know we had any wines from Georgia in the LDB, but we have two reds as well, one at $17 and the other a Merlot, from the same producer as the Mtsvane, for $27.90. I’m going to hold off on the big-ticket Merlot for now, but I can recommend the Mtsvane wholeheartedly. Mtsvane is one of dozens of Georgian wine-grape varieties, most if not all of which are practically unknown here.

But this isn’t the first Mtsvane we’ve seen in B.C. Many vintages ago, winemaker and consultant Lynn Stark, working on an ambitious project for Brights in the Okanagan (and now consulting to many B.C. growers and wineries as Lynn Bremmer, with partner John Bremmer), made minuscule amounts of this and other Russian varietals—Rkatsiteli and Oraniensteiner among others, all based on experimental plantings from the “Becker Plots”. The project only lasted about three years—from 1983 to about 1986—and only Oraniensteiner seems to have any sort of presence in the Okanagan now. (The Martiniuk family’s Stoneboat winery makes a luscious sweet wine from the grape, called Verglas.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Georgia, where guest is god, tourism thrives

Batumi by Night. Photo: seyyah81
by Maria Danilova, Associated Press

16.10.2012. Georgia's Black Sea resort of Batumi was once a bleak site: Roads were dotted with pot-holes, the city was pitch dark at night, running water was scarce and the city's best hotel was infested with rats. Today Batumi glitters with neon lights and luxury high-rise hotels dot its skyline; soon the city will even boast a fountain flowing with Georgian grape vodka (Read more: "Chacha Tower" with spirit fountain opened in Batumi).

The transformation of the ancient city of 180,000 near the border with Turkey is a vivid example of Georgia's drive to capitalize on its tourism potential, boosting the economy of an ex-Soviet nation where roughly one person in five lives in poverty. The government has attracted top foreign investors, such as U.S. real estate magnate Donald Trump, to build hotels and develop and renovate tourist sites. And it has aggressively marketed Georgia as a tourism hot spot.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Future of Georgian wine remains at the mercy of politics

by Madona Gasanova

15.10.2012. Since billionaire Ivanishvili came to power by a majority of seats in parliament, the stakes of returning to the Russian market have increased. The embargo imposed by the Russian Government in 2006 can be lifted if political links between Tbilisi and Moscow are restored. For Russian leaders such fundamental change is possible if the new Georgian Government says “No” to NATO integration.

The Georgian-born billionaire, who built his business empire in Russia but sold his assets before the election to focus on his bid to oust President Mikheil Saakashvili ’s ruling party in the October parliamentary poll, earlier said that Georgian businessmen should return to the Russian market as they were unprepared to export their products to the United States and the European Union.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

After "Tbilvino", other wine companies speak about state intervention in wine business

10.10.2012. After "Tbilvino", other wine companies are talking about the government’s intervention in wine business.

Tbilvino's director general Zurab Margvelashvili announced that the state grew a farmer’s satisfaction at the expense of private companies and doubled the price for rkatsiteli for the company. The announcement was made by the company's director at a meeting of Bidzina Ivanishvili with businessmen.

According to “Askaneli Brothers” founder Jimmy Chkhaidze, the state artificially increased the price of grapes this year and participated in its regulation.

“If the state establishes the price of 3 GEL for grapes, we have to pay 3 GEL, so we’ll have a loss,"- Chkhaidze says.

In his words, the harvest subsidizing is not bad, but the state should not take part in regulation of prices for grapes, as this is clearly means interference with business.

"Alaverdi" company's director Zurab Gogashvili calls vintage subsidizing absurd.

He notes, though Alaverdi has its own vineyards and does not have to buy grapes, the state subsidizing is unjustified.

Shuchmann Wines' commercial director Levan Davitashvili partially agrees with this opinion. He notes the company owns its own vineyards, but he shares the assessment that the state increases a farmer’s satisfaction at the expense of private companies.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tbilvino’s new grape primary processing plant opened in Kakheti region

13.10.2012. Tbilvino, Georgia’s largest winemaking company, commenced harvest in the newly established grape primary processing plant in the town of Kvareli,  Kakheti region.

Grape primary processing plant is equipped with the modern, European processing technology, provided by the renowned Italian manufacturer Della Toffola. The processing facility is sited in a 2500 sq.m building on a 1.5 ha territory in the town of Kvareli. The capacity of the primary plant allows Tbilvino to process 5,000 tons of grapes per season. This is the largest and most modern wine primary plant constructed during the past few years in Georgia.

The construction of the primary was made possible though the partnership and support of International Finance Corporation (IFC), who provided a $1.5 million loan to accomplish the project.

Voice of America: Georgia looks toward end of Russia's wine embargo

In hills and valleys like these, near Sighnaghi, archeologists have 
found evidence of grape cultivation and wine fermentation dating 
back to 7,000 BC, making eastern Georgia the site of the earliest 
known evidence of wine production, Georgia, October 2012
by James Brooke

12.10.2012. Six years ago, Russia hit Georgia with a wine embargo. Suddenly, a market that had taken 80 percent of Georgia’s wine exports was closed.

Now, in the days after Georgians elected a Moscow-trained prime minister, there is serious talk of lifting the embargo.

In Sighnaghi, a 120-kilometer drive east of Tbilisi, some winemakers say they have adjusted to business without the massive Russian market.

Here in the eastern hills of Georgia, archeologists say they have found the earliest evidence of grape cultivation and winemaking in the world. Eight-thousand years ago, wine was made in kvevri - massive clay jars lined with beeswax and buried in the ground.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The New York Times: Wine of (Seriously) Ancients

by Alice Feiring

For hard-core wine purists, a pilgrimage must be made to eastern Georgia, where they still use a 5,000-year-old technology called qvevri. There, wine is aged in huge, beeswax-lined, turret-shaped clay pots that are buried in soil. In this deeply religious country, winemakers are obsessed with purity. Sulfur is still associated with the devil, and many shun it and other additives.
I was compelled to take the trip after a few stateside glasses of juicy, rusty-hued kisi and the honey-scented mtsvane (both whites) and spicy saperavi (a red). After a bumpy Aerosvit flight, I arrived ragged to a crumbling, yet beautiful, wine-obsessed country at the precipice of viticultural modernization. There are already some large wineries using stainless steel tanks and making chardonnay, but I visited a number of others — including Alaverdi Monastery and Pheasant’s Tears — who still do it the old-fashioned way. At one vineyard, I met a winemaker named Iago Bitarishvili. It soon became clear that he was the master of chinuri. He stomps the grapes, fills the pots, seals the wine for fermentation and bottles it when stable. Only after drinking his chinuri’s lemony richness was I revived.

Sarajishvili leads in the media audit rating of Georgian wine makers

12.10.2012 (Hvino News). Last July Hvino News published results of first media rating of Georgian wine companies, prepared by Artenom Georgia Consulting (AGC). According to our media rating, the leaders in media coverage were Tbilvino (1st place), Shuchmann Wines and Teliani Valley (sharing 2nd place). Our media rating was based on number of mentions in mass media, as monitored by Hvino News. For details, click here.

AGC, agency which founded Hvino News, continues its marketing and media research in the wine industry sector, and constantly develops more complex analytic instruments. In recent months AGC has conducted a series of "Media Audits" of 14 Georgian wine making companies.

Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export

by Ia Natsvlishvili

11.10.2012. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Wine Laboratory and Multitest, two Georgian laboratories testing agricultural export commodities such as wine, mineral water, hazelnuts and fresh processed fruits and vegetables.

According to the Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI), a monthly business digest, one year long-term project was completed successfully. “It created a key technical barrier in increasing the export of Georgian products to international markets, we (EPI) with the Georgian Accreditation Center (GAC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have been working to improve Georgia’s capacity in accreditation and conformity assessment,” the EPI newsletter reads. (See also: U.S. Government supports international certification opportunities for Georgian agriculture products).

Carrefour focuses on cooperation with Georgian suppliers

by Baia Dzagnidze

11.10.2012. The opening of the new  triggered great interest among customers. The 25 million Lari investment store boasts the cheapest prices in town and offers weekly sales and discounts on various products. Georgia Today asked the Carrefour General Manager Jean Louis Clary to talk about the current situation, the ongoing auctions and the immediate agenda of the hypermarket.

Q: How did the idea to enter the Georgian retail market come about?

A: Carrefour in Georgia is MAF Carrefour, which is a joint venture between Carrefour Group in France and Majid Al Futtaim Group in Dubai. MAF Carrefour started operating 15 years ago in Dubai and later on began to expand and develop its circle. We chose Georgia because it’s in the Caucasus region and is a great country to start a business in.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tbilisi's soft power of wine, smiles and tourism

Photo: Hvino News
by James Brooke

10.10.2012. Nervousness was in the air the other afternoon when my S7 Airbus, packed with Russian tourists, touched down at Tbilisi's international airport. The tourists walked down a sparkling glass corridor to a terminal that Russian bombs narrowly missed four years earlier during the war with Georgia. They meekly lined up in the no-visa line at passport control.

Crisply uniformed Georgian immigration officers sitting in glass booths carefully inspected each red passport, embossed in gold with the double-headed eagle. Each border control officer reached under his desk and, with a practiced move, returned every passport with an unexpected object. It was a 200-milliliter bottle of red wine, packed in a crimson gift box and stamped: "Welcome to the Land of 8,000 Vintages."

"Welcome to Georgia!" the officers repeated in Russian, offering unrehearsed, centuries-old Georgian smiles. Despite the warnings of the Kremlin nanny state, Russian tourism to Georgia is booming.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Marani's autumn 2012 events

Photo: Telavi Wine Cellar
10.10.2012. September and October have been quite busy not just with grape harvesting but also by frequent wine tours from different countries. Among them, the most important were tours of Marani wine distributors from Kazakhstan and Lithuania.

September 17-20, 2012:  Marani hosted 9 representatives of White Hole Almaty from Kazakhstan. The guests fully appreciated the closer look to the wine –making technologies implemented at Marani. A special wine-tasting was arranged for them at the Kindzmarauli tasting pavilion. The vintage impressed the guests a lot with the related outdoor fun and excitements. The final touch of the pleasant stay of White Hole Almaty reps in Georgia appeared the fourth day of the tour when they had a chance to admire the historical monuments in Kakheti, Tbilisi and Old city of Mtskheta.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tbilvino's Georgy Margvelashvili: "Business elite in Russia is waiting for Georgian wine"

Business in Georgia pins hopes on new government, Russia ties
by Margarita Antidze

09.10.2012. Power in Georgia has peacefully changed hands after a tense parliamentary election but as the next government takes shape under billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the likely prime minister, businesspeople face political uncertainty.

Ivanishvili has no experience of government, presides over a six-party coalition which he says could splinter in parliament, and faces months of uneasy cohabitation with President Mikheil Saakashvili, a political rival.

Business chiefs are therefore eager to know how he plans to fulfil promises to relax government control of business, create jobs, raise pensions and welfare benefits, offer free healthcare and education, and improve ties with Russia.

"All businessmen have mixed feelings," said Fadi Asly, head of the International Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.

Tbilisoba: what treats an old city can offer

Anyone can put on rubber boots and get involved in wine  pressing  
Photo: DFWatch
by Mari  Nikuradze

08.10.2012.  Georgia’s capital last weekend was the scene of elaborate display of handicraft, winemaking, food and fun, as the annual celebration Tbilisoba as usual drew large crowds to engage in various aspects of Georgian traditional ways of life.

Tbilisoba has been celebrated almost every year since 1979, except for a five year hiatus in the 1990s.

It has traditionally been celebrated the last weekend of October, but for the last two years the festival has been held in mid-October.

As usual, it spanned from Friday to Sunday and presented various cultural events, mostly in the older parts of Tbilisi, an area with a very long history.

This year’s celebration started on Friday with an exhibition of periodicals from the last century. A concert was held at the National Library. Later, another exhibition was held of unknown photos of well-known Georgian artists.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Vera Kobalia: "Each family has its own vineyard"

08.10.2012 (Hvino News) Vera Kobalia, acting Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, answered questions of Russian newspaper "Ведомости". In her interview published today, Ms. Kobalia touched upon the theme of Georgian wine:

- What about the wine industry in Georgia? What are the consequences of the Russian embargo after six years?

- Wine-making is a special theme. Each family has its own vineyard, and if not, they buy grapes to make their own wine, to make sure they have something to offer to their guests... The Russian market was almost the only one for us. In 2006, when Russia imposed an embargo on wine from Georgia, Russia consumed 56% of wine intended for export, so the name Onishchenko in Georgia is well known ... But at the same time only 10% of what was sold in Russia was Georgian wine. Now we can say that the embargo had only a positive impact on the country. Because it was necessary to actively enter the EU market, it was necessary to improve the quality of wine in accordance with the European standards, to work on marketing, to find consumers in Asia and even in the U.S.. The main markets are Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

Russia's Chief Sanitation Doctor to meet Georgian winemakers

08.10.2012. Russia's Chief Sanitation Doctor Gennady Onishchenko has said that Georgian wine will hardly make a comeback to the Russian market in the nearest future.

"Despite the well-known changes in Georgia we still don't have any reasons to assume that there have been any constructive changes on the issue on the part of the authorities in that country," he said to Interfax on Monday.

"Nevertheless, contacts with the business community continue. As proof of that there will be a meeting with representatives of the Georgian winemaking business in Moscow on Monday," he said.

Earlier Onishchenko said that the approach of Tbilisi is obstructing the return of Georgian wines and mineral water to the Russian market.

The opposition coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili who announced intentions of returning Georgian commodities to the Russian market won the parliamentary election in Georgia last week.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Levan Mildiani: "We are prepared to ship our wine to Russia tomorrow"

Photo: NTV
07.10.2012. (Hvino News). Levan Mildiani, owner of Midiani wine company, appeared today in the television program "Programma Maksimum" on Russian TV channel NTV. The program was focused on the consequences of recent parliamentary election in Georgia, won with overwhelming majority by the opposition coalition "Georgian Dream" led by Budzina Ivanisvili, rival of current Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili.

"We are working for the American consumer", - said Mr. Mildiani in his interview to Russian correspondent, demonstrating his company's products and premises in Alazani Valley, Kakheti Region. "The Russians, it seems to me, are genetically tied to Georgian wine... We are prepared to ship our wine to Russia even tomorrow. We are sure that the factor of Ivanishvili will play main role in that", - noted Levan Mildiani.

To watch the full video of "Programma Maksimum" (in Russian), click here.

© Hvino News
This article was reposted by:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tbilisoba is celebrated in the capital (video)

06.10.2012. As the Tbilisi City Hall representatives say, “Tbilisoba 2012” will be full with festive events, which will take place in the old parts of the city and its nearby area.

Tbilisoba  is a annual October festival, celebrating the diversity and history of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It was first held on October 28, 1979, and has since become an established tradition.

Traditionally, winepresses will be installed on the Meidan. Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava is also on Meidani and he takes part in the grapes pressing process. The citizens have opportunity to participate in the pressing process, which is carried out in 60 sq. m. winepress, where 5 tons of grapes are placed. The holiday guests are also able to taste grape juice and to take it home too.

Concert of a folk ensemble is planned in Abastumani, fruit and tea festivals, auto-shows, various sports activities, young poets evening and the award ceremony of the literary contest “Gala” will take place on this holiday.  Rafts will be arranged. The festive events will be finished with a gala concert on Europe Square on October 7.

 Hvino News

Friday, October 5, 2012

Head of Rtveli HQ: Grapes are being delivered up smoothly

04.10.2012. According to the head of the Rtveli HQ, the process of grapes delivery is being held smoothly and "Rtveli 2012" is coming to an end in the region. Paata Chavchanidze says the government continues to subsidize the vintage and all the farmers who will deliver up grapes will be able to convert  a voucher into cash in  Liberty Bank's branches in Kakheti, while private companies will cover the amount in accordance with agreement.

The Rtveli Headquarters informs, this time in total 35 thousand tons of rkatsiteli  and 16 thousand tons of saperavi have been collected and processed. Farmers receive 1 GEL per one kg of grapes.


The rise of Georgian wines

05.10.2012. Is Georgian wine the next big thing? Our wine writer Darren Smith finds out. At Georgia House, the ambassador is working the room. In one corner a small choir of beetlebrowed men dressed in traditional black chokha is singing in rousing harmony. There are lots of dark, attractive women twinkling with cut-glass elegance, a few suited government types – and the odd wine writer. One of them has monopolised the wine table and is scribbling away at his tasting notes, raving about the Alaverdi. “Excellent,” he beams. “A little young, but really excellent.” The wine waitress drinks in his praise like he’s the man from Del Monte…

I choose a red from a regal row of bottles, fumbling with the pronunciation.

“Khvach… Khvanch…”

“Khvanchkara,” the bouffanted woman next to me says in heavily-accented English. “Stallion’s favourite wine.”


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Delhi Wine Club: Wines to Celebrate Double Ton (excerpts)

04.10.2012. Delhi Wine Club celebrated its 10th Anniversary last month as it organised the 200th event at the Hotel Hyatt Regency for a record 260 people. An association with Ethos and Rolex of Switzerland made it possible for the Club to raise the variety and standard of wines for the sit-down dinner, write Stephanie Jan and Joachim Lefaure, the French sommeliers couple who are also members of the Club. The long-time planned event was awaited by the wine lovers all excited to taste the carefully chosen eleven wine selections by our President, Subhash Arora.

Georgia and Saperavi wines

Thanks to our President Subhash for inviting samples of lesser known and under-estimated Georgian wine culture. Georgia is one of the oldest wine producing countries; its roots have been tracked back to 6000 BC (5400 years before France!). The two Georgian wines selected were both from the Kakheti region (east of the country) and made of the indigenous Saperavi grape. Tbilvino (importer Tabuni Wines) is the result of a privatization of a former state winery. The company does not own vineyards but sources grapes from more than 300 growers in the nearby areas. It is the largest wine exporter and has an impressive collection of international wine competition trophies. Tbilvino 2010 presented intense aromas of fresh cherries, tar, coffee and chocolate. The small astringent tannins contrasted with a refreshing acidity. Askaneli Brothers shows how a company is excelling in wine making and offering a wide range of intriguing indigenous grapes. The incredible Mukuzani 2005 has evolved aromas of cedar, pepper, cherries, brown tobacco with rounded and velvety tannins.

Source (excerpts)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chief of "Echo of Moscow": I expect return of Georgian wine to Russia

02.10.2012 (Hvino News). Alexei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of a leading Russian  radio station "Echo of Moscow", stated today in his blog:
Now, when Saakashvili admitted defeat of his party in the elections, I expect from the leadership of my country:
a) restoration of diplomatic relations with Georgia.
b) abolition of the visa regime with Georgia.
c) return of Borjomi and Georgian wine to the Russian market.
d) termination of anti-Georgian campaign state mass media.
e) start of negotiations on the fate of refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
f) well, and the visit of VVP [Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - HN] to Tbilisi.
So, VV, shall we go?..
Echo of Moscow  is a top-rated radio station based in Moscow, broadcasting in many Russian cities and internationally, and described as "the last bastion of free media in Russia" by Wikipedia. Mr. Venediktov is known as influential journalist who has interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev and President Bill Clinton, among others.

© Hvino News

Eccentric Billionaire Likely to Lead Country

Photo AP
by Maria Danilova, Associated Press

02.10.2012. He collects rare animals, buys priceless art and professes to be a psychoanalyst. Bidzina Ivanishvili, a onetime barefoot village boy turned eccentric billionaire philanthropist, looks poised to become the new leader of Georgia, a strategic South Caucasus country that lives in the shadows of giant neighbor Russia.

President Mikhail Saakashvili, a staunch ally of the West, on Tuesday acknowledged defeat in parliamentary elections and called on Ivanishvili to form the new government. That puts the tycoon on track to be prime minister, which will be Georgia's most powerful job under constructional changes next year.

After making his fortune in tumultuous post-Soviet Russia, Ivanishvili, 56, returned to Georgia shortly before the 2003 Rose Revolution catapulted Saakashvili to power. For years he quietly financed Saakashvili's reforms, buying new shoes for Georgian soldiers, equipping the police force with cars and helping to raise the salaries of lawmakers and ministry bureaucrats so that they wouldn't take bribes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Georgian grape pickers show government's challenge

by Lynn Berry, Associated Press

30.09.2012. Sagarejo, Georgia  — The green grapes that Temuri Dolenjashvili and his wife snipped from the vines Sunday and emptied by the bucket into the back of their truck provide the only income for their extended family of five.

The harvest also gave a welcome day's work to an unemployed father and an elderly neighbor whose $75 monthly pension has to help feed her unemployed son, his wife and their sickly child.

Poverty and a lack of jobs are what worry Georgians most going into a tight parliamentary election on Monday that will decide the future of the pro-Western government of President Mikhail Saakashvili. For the grape pickers and others like them struggling to make ends meet on rich agricultural land and unable to sell their produce to Russia, the election offers some sense of hope.

Since coming to power nearly nine years ago, Saakashvili has transformed this former Soviet republic and put it on a path toward what Georgians hope will be eventual membership in the European Union and NATO.