Enhance your knowledge, grow in wine tourism & be inspired! IWINETC Preview

From March 29th to 30th, the 6th annual edition of International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) brings together a unique blend of wine and tourism industry professionals,

Giorgi Sigua, Head of the  Georgian National Tourism Administration kicks off the event with a claim that Georgia has the oldest continuous unbroken tradition of wine making in the world, stretching back over 8,000 years and today, there are more than 500 indigenous grape varieties still cultivated there.

Sarah Abbott speaker at IWINETC Georgia 2014At the end of day 1 Sarah Abbott, Master of Wine and Irakli Cholobargia, National Wine Agency will be presenting Georgian wines from the zesty and aromatic Mtsvane and the  firm, stony Rkatsiteli to the striking, and exciting Saperavi red variety. Neither red, nor white, nor rosé, so called ‘Orange Wines’ derived from white grapes fermented on their skins to give darker, tannic whites will alos be included in this Grand Wine Tasting of Wines of Georgia.

To further wet your appetite, below are a sampling of the top quality guest speakers who promise to make IWINETC 2014 a memorable and above all useful learning experience.

  • Wines of Uruguay consultant David Furer will host a look into South America’s Littlest Star along with wines from participating wineries to sample
  • Guest speaker and professor, Dr. Aleš Gačnik  Facutly of Tourism, University Of Primorska together with Marijan Močivnik, Revija Vino will tell us how Wine Queens are helping develop and promote Slovenian wine tourism
  • Terry Sulivan, Wine Trail Traveler, Melba Allen, The Wine Profilers, Paul Bonarrigo Messina Hof Wine, Cellars, Tom Plant, WINEormous,  will gang up to show how both tour operators and wine tourism experience providers can find different ways of branding and marketing using online activities currently going on in the wine travel blogsphere. Participants are promised that they will leave the session with a list of things that they can say “I can do that!”.
  • A look at wine tourism industry lessons to be learnt and mistakes to avoid in Beaujolais, British Colombia, Republic of Moldova and Texas.
  • The problem of getting visitors beyond popular city destinations for a well rounded cultural experience which includes people, wine, food and cultural heritage . Case Study Rome and the Lazio wine region by  Sarah May Grunwald
  • Wine School owner Ashika Mathews will point out that while it is easy to seduce people when you take them to beautiful places and taste wines with them, will answer the questionn how do you keep that memory alive once they are back home and keep them engaged with that region?

And, several more celebrated wine travelers, bloggers, and experts in their fields will speak to topics like Using Sensory Analysis as Games for a Memorable Visit, A Rest Day on a Wine Tour – Wine Wellness/Wine Therapy in Spas and  Chicken Soup for the Wine Tourist’s Soul.

View the Provisional Conference Programme>>

And don’t forget to arrive early and stay late to take full advantage of the wine tasting tours around wine, food, and  culture of Georgia.

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Georgia

Saperavi (Georgia) & Lenoir (Texas) a lot in common?

Years ago a NASA scientist spoke to the Texas Grape industry about how thousands of years ago the land we call Texas was once located near the country of Georgia prior to the earth’s plates separating into the existing continents.

Texas is the home of the grape rootstocks of the world.  These roots have saved the wine industry from phyloxera and many soil born diseases.

Now as Merrill and I prepare to speak at the Wine Pleasures International Wine Tourism Conference with a talk titled Managing the Guest Experience & Avoiding Hospitality Mistakes, I now discover another very interesting fact.  Saperavi, the well known Georgian grape, and Lenoir, a well known Texas grape, have many similarities.

Saperavi and Lenoir spot the difference iwinetcSaperavi and Lenoir are both teinturier – type grapes (varieties that have dark pulp that flow red)

Saperavi and Lenoir have large 3 lobed leaves that allow the cluster to develop high sugars.

Saperavi and Lenoir have medium size berries that flow dark bluish juice.

Saperavi and Lenoir have five month maturation periods.

Saperavi and Lenoir have been produced from the 1880’s.

Saperavi and Lenoir are very hardy and can handle extreme cold.

In a recent tasting of Meroni Mukuzani 2008 my tasting notes included “a dry deep red wine with hint of oak.  Medium bodied made from 100% Saperavi grapes from the Mukuzani district in Khakheti.  The nose and taste were very similar to a dry Lenoir grown in our vineyard at Messina Hof.”

Although Saperavi is considered Vitas Vinifera and Lenoir is considered Vitas Bourquiniana, the striking similarities of the clusters, leaves, and juice are worthy of additional study.

Wine brings people together.  Saperavi and Lenoir bring the grape industries of Georgia and Texas together with a common grape type that produces distinctive wine from that region.

Paul V Bonarrigo

Destination Sakartvelo! Wine Tourism Conference to descend on Tbilisi

March 29th and 30th 2014 will see the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) bring together a unique blend of wine industry professionals from around the world in the 5* star venue Tbilisi Marriot.

The event, organized by Wine Pleasures is an interactive and dynamic 2 day program during which time is spent building new business relationships, learning from global experts, exploring an emerging Georgian wine industry, and of course, tasting wine!

Wine Tourism Workshop iwinetcTour operators/agents and wine experience providers specialized in wine and culinary tourism have dedicated time to meet at the Wine Tourism Meet Up. Professional and enthusiast wine lovers can devour the knowledge of over 30 guest speakers.  Wineries can showcase their latest release or special classic vintages.  It’s all about growing the wine tourism industry!

Giorgi Sigua speaker at iwinetc 2014George Sigua Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration kicks off the festivities with a look at wine tourism in the cradle of wine.  Many discoveries have left historians in no doubt that Georgia is the birthplace of wine. Ancient wine vessels made of clay, bronze and silver; gold cups for drinking wine; wine barrels dated to the 2nd or even 3rd millennium BC; and vine seeds found in the ancient tombs of the Bronze Age all leave a continuous story of the history of Georgian wine. A unique grape escape location indeed!

Below is a sampling of the top quality guest speakers who promise to make IWINETC 2014 a memorable experience.

Laurence COGAN speaker at IWINETC Georgia 2014IWINETC welcomes back three wine tourism experts to the conference. Laurence Cogan, professor at the ESC Dijon- School of Wine & Spirits will demonstrate how wine tourism can boost/reboost wine sales with specific reference to Beaujolais. Authors of the book Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine, Terry & Kathy Sullivan will be stressing the importance of telling heart-warming stories to visitors: Chicken Soup for the Wine Tourist’s Soul

Guest speaker, professor, and co – owner of Antigua Tours Sarah May will be dealing with the common issue of how to get visitors out of the major cities into the nearby wine regions. Case Study: Rome – Lazio

Veronika Raetchi speaker at iwiinetc 2014 GeorgiaVeronika Raetchi, President of the Ass National Center for Promotion of Wine Tourism Moldova will unveil how Moldova is fairing as an emerging wine tourism destination.

A look at wine industry updates and wine tourism opportunities in India, Okanagan, Texas, Quebec and Georgia. Including a tasting of Wines of Georgia led by Irakli Cholobargia of the National Wine Agency, Georgia

Wines of Georgia presented at IWINETC 2013And, several more celebrated wine travelers, bloggers, and experts in their fields will speak to topics like Managing the Guest Experience & Avoiding Hospitality Mistakes, Re-Inventing Tradition: Qvevris, Amphorae, Concrete Eggs, and the Natural Wine Movement, The Dos & Don’ts of Wine Tourism and Using Sensory Analysis as Games for a Memorable

logo_large new datesDon’t forget to arrive early and stay late to take full advantage of the tours around wine, food, and culture of Georgia. As the Georgian slogan says:

“Georgia – for the best moments of your life”

Add in wine and food and you’ve come then you should find yourself in heaven.

Join us for the 6th International Wine Tourism Conference! 

Eventbrite - International Wine Tourism Conference 2014 - Tbilisi - Georgia

Wine Trail Traveler’s Impressions of Georgia (Sakartvelo)

Georgia stands at a precipice for potential wine tourism, on par with Napa, Bordeaux and Toscana. Terry and Kathy have journeyed to, explored and written about over 1,000 wineries and vineyards in North America, Europe and Oceania. As our wine travel experiences around the world builds, we looked forward to a land that has something different to offer wine enthusiasts. Georgia is that land.

International Wine Tourism Conference GeorgiaWe will return to Georgia in March 2014 to present at the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) held in Tbilisi March 28 – 29. The IWINETC will showcase Georgian wine. The conference also provides an opportunity for winemakers, winery owners, wine tour operators and hoteliers to gain knowledge about wine tourism.

In September 2013, when we reached the country of Georgia, we discovered that the people of Georgia call their country Sakartvelo. With the help of the National Wine Agency, it was in Georgia, where we experienced the greatest diversity of grapes. Georgia has more grape varieties than any country our travels have taken us. There is also great diversity in winemaking procedures. Their beautiful alphabet, language and customs are different from what we have previously experienced. This is a country wine enthusiasts and travelers need to visit.

Wine Trail Traveler visit Georgia before iwinetcWhen we visited regions in France this summer we experienced Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon among other grape varieties that we had previously experienced thousands of times. Our visit to Georgia was different. Here we experienced wine grapes that one usually cannot taste in the rest of the world. White grape varieties such as: Chinuri, Mtsvane, Kisi and Rkatsiteli, and black grape varieties such as: Aladasturi, Alexksandrouli, Mujurentuli, Saperavi, Shavkapito and Tavkveri expanded our learning about varietal grapes. The fact that some of these varieties have been harvested for thousands of years challenged our perception of “how old is old.” Our previous idea of old extended to the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. When one visits Georgia, one deals with a history of grape growing and winemaking dating thousands of years before those civilizations.

Wine Trail Traveler visit Georgia before iwinetcWine travelers who enjoy history will enjoy traveling to wineries in Georgia. They can taste grape varieties pre-dating the international grapes. Grape varieties are not the only link to an 8,000-year past that wine travelers will experience. Winemaking techniques also provide a glimpse of what happened long ago. While visiting many wineries, we saw the familiar stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. Much of the wine produced in Georgia is for an European palate. We were most fascinated in learning about wine made in qvevri, an ancient wine vessel made from clay, dried in large hand-built kilns and buried in the earth. These vessels are made of the earth and returned to the earth to ferment and age wine.

Wine Trail Traveler visit Georgia before iwinetc2Traditional Georgian winemakers have made wine in qvevri for thousands of years. Although there are some differences in the procedures for making a wine in qvevri, resulting wines provide the best example of a grape expressing itself in a natural way during the fermentation and aging process. Most winemakers making wine in a qvevri do not add yeast, yeast nutrients or winemaking products during fermentation and aging. The wines do not pick up any aromas or tastes from the qvevri. The resulting wines are natural.

Besides qvevri, we saw many old wood presses. These elongated boxes are about ten feet long. They are sturdy enough for several people to stand in and crush with their feet. Some have been made from a single trunk of a tree. Terry experienced stomping grapes while at Twins Wine Cellar in Napareuli. Several other wine tourists joined in the stomping of grapes.

Georgian wine making iwinetcGeorgia is a place of discovery. We discovered that wine, food and God’s blessing is what is important to the Georgian people. It has been this way for centuries. We discovered the monasteries and their connection with wine. We discovered beautiful churches, frescos and devout Christians. We learned why Saint Nino is so important to Georgians and how she crafted a cross made from grape vines and tied together with her hair.

traditional supra IWINETC 2014An event the world needs to experience is a Supra. Our first night in Georgia we attended a Supra. The toasts by the Tamada, polyphonic singing, great qvevri-made wine and wonderful food, had us feeling like we were part of the family. A Georgian winery owner noted, “Wine has a great tradition of making people happy.” The toasts were simple, poetic and philosophical. “Without peace, wine has no aroma or taste; flowers have no color.”

White grape varieties Georgia IWINETC 2014Wine enthusiasts can get excited about the grape varieties, winemaking techniques especially making wine in qvevri, participate in a harvest or vineyard tasks and even help make a qvevri wine. We spent hours with a family harvesting Rkatsiteli. Later we helped to put the grapes into a crusher/destemmer. We cleaned a qvevri and finally filled it with the grapes. During the March trip to Twins Wine Cellar in Napareuli with IWINETC media FAM group, we hope to open the qvevri and taste the wine.

QveriGeorgia is the only place on Earth that we became excited to see a hole in the ground. We visited a site of a future marani or wine cellar. The hole was partially dug out and qvevri lay nearby. We did not see it for what it was. We saw a hole and dreamed of what it would become. We envisioned several qvevri, made from earth and buried in the earth. The qvevri held wine. Above the hole, we imagined people from all over the world tasting wines with smiles on their faces, and enjoying it with delicious Georgian foods.

What wines did we discover and like? We both enjoyed wines that were made and aged in qvevri. Terry likes a wine with very bold tannins. The Umbria region of Italy produces a wine with very bold tannins made from the grape Sagrantino. Terry refers to this as a kissing wine. The tannins pucker your lips as though you are ready to kiss someone. Georgia produces many kissing wines. In Georgia, they can be white or red wines. You can find white wines made in qvevri that have very bold tannins. There are many red wines that can be kissing wines, most notably Saperavi. Any wine enthusiast who likes tannins should travel to Georgia and experience some of the wines made in qvevri.

Straight on for Iwinetc GeorrgiaDespite the differences in language, alphabet and customs, we felt at home in Georgia. The people of Georgia have been generous with smiles and regional food specialties. They have welcomed us at their wineries and in their vineyards.

Returning to the United States, we continue writing about our experiences in Georgia. In addition to our blogs and articles, we are writing a book: Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine that we will have published in time for the International Wine Tourism Conference in March.

Our wishes for the people of Georgia include good health, good wine, good food and peace.

Terry & Kathy

Discovering Georgia’s Kakheti Wine Region

Georgia’s easternmost region of Kakheti is a land of hospitable, openhearted and straightforward people who live surrounded by rugged mountains, ancient castles, magnificent churches, and drink wine to praise the almighty for each harvest of their nurtured grape yards. Kakheti is unquestionably a must-see for any visitor to Georgia. With its generous landscapes and people, Kakheti offers an unforgettable experience to its first-time visitors and those who are well acquainted with its heart-warming culture.

Known almost exclusively for its vineyards and wineries, this wide and fertile valley presses up against the white-topped Dagestan Caucasus to the north and the Azerbaijan wetlands to the south. Hot enough in summer to ripen any grape to perfection, the morning fog and the abundant rivers flowing down from the high Caucasus help fill them with bold flavor….

Rutas del Vino de España Report Wine Tourism Figures 2012

Rutas del Vino España have just published wine tourism figures for 2012. The Wine routes with the greatest number of visits were the  Ruta del Vino y el Cava del Penedès Enoturisme Penedès (with 479.499 visits) and the  Ruta del Vino and the Brandy from Jerez (with 416.569 visits). They conclude that Spanish wine tourism has consolidated and provides an excellent complement to Cultural Tourism. Here’s a round up of the of the interesting bits – run google translate over it if you are beginner level at Spanish 🙂 :

Rutas de Vino España 6El número total de visitantes registrados por las bodegas que forman parte de las rutas integradas en Rutas del Vino de España ascendió a 1.430.592, una cifra ligeramente inferior a la recogida durante 2011, si bien es necesario matizar que el universo de estudio de este informe se ha reducido con respecto al año anterior. Para los datos obtenidos en 2012 solo se han considerado las Rutas que están certificadas (un total de 20 actualmente), dos de las cuales (Tenerife y Rioja Alta) no han aportado datos este año. Por lo tanto, se puede decir que el descenso reflejado no se corresponde con un descenso real en el número de enoturistas, al haberse considerado un 16,4% menos de bodegas que en el estudio precedente. 

Rutas de Vino España 7De la misma forma, Rutas del Vino de España destaca el incremento del porcentaje de respuesta por parte de las bodegas, de modo que los índices de corrección empleados son cada vez menores. 

Así, los datos obtenidos de este nuevo estudio (el quinto desde que se puso en marcha el Observatorio Turístico de Rutas del Vino de España) se consideran positivos desde el Club de Producto ya que indican que, a pesar de la situación económica actual, el enoturismo se mantiene en alza. Aunque el crecimiento del número de visitas se ha ralentizado, las cifras han aumentado en 2012 en la mayor parte de los destinos (14 de las 18 rutas que han aportado cifras). Por todo ello se puede decir que el turismo enológico se ha consolidado dentro de las alternativas turísticas de nuestro país y que representa una interesante alternativa en un momento en el que los  turistas tienden a reducir en tiempo y distancia sus viajes. 

Penedès y Jerez, las más visitadas

El informe de 2012 vuelve a situar a la Ruta del Vino y el Cava del Penedès Enoturisme Penedès  y las Rutas del Vino y el Brandy del Marco de Jerez al frente del ranking de las más visitadas, con 479.499 y 416.569 visitas respectivamente. Ambas están situadas en territorios con un importante flujo turístico por su cercanía a la costa y a grandes y atractivos núcleos urbanos como Barcelona y Sevilla, además de disponer de algunas de las bodegas más visitadas de España. 

Rutas de Vino España 5Junto a ellas, las Rutas de Ribera del Duero, Rioja Alavesa y Rías Baixas también han obtenido cifras relevantes. Entre las rutas que han conseguido un incremento relevante respecto a otros años se encuentran las Rutas del Vino Caminos del Vino de La Mancha, Bullas, Garnacha‐Campo de Borja o Lleida. 

Rutas de Vino España  8En cuanto a la distribución temporal a lo largo del año, otoño y primavera siguen siendo las temporadas en las que se realiza más enoturismo, motivado sobre todo por el buen tiempo y por la atracción que supone la época de la vendimia. Los meses de octubre (168.675) y septiembre (166.300) son los más fructíferos en la llegada de visitantes, seguidos muy de cerca de mayo (154.707) y abril (140.615). Los meses estivales, especialmente el mes de junio que supera los 130.000 visitantes, registran también cifras bastante positivas 

Rutas de Vino España 3Así pues, el turismo del vino sigue siendo un complemento de gran interés en los destinos turísticos españoles de mayor volumen, al tiempo que se está convirtiendo en un motor de desarrollo turístico en muchos destinos de interior. 

You can view the whole report Rutas del Vino de España 2012 We hope to see Rutas del Vino España at the next International Wine Tourism Conference to be held in Tbilisi, Georgia where they would be able to use the event to create greater awareness to the wine and culinary industry.

Discover Qvevri Tradition in Georgia’s Kakheti Wine Region

Georgia’s easternmost region of Kakheti is a land of hospitable, open hearted and straightforward people who live surrounded by rugged mountains, ancient castles, magnificent churches, and drink wine to praise the almighty for each harvest of their nurtured grape yards. Kakheti is unquestionably a must-see for any conference delegate attending the 6th International Wine Tourism Conference in Georgia. With its generous landscapes and people, Kakheti offers an unforgettable experience to its first-time visitors and those who are well acquainted with its heart-warming culture.

Harvest time in GeorgiaKnown almost exclusively for its vineyards and wineries, this wide and fertile valley presses up against the white-topped Dagestan Caucasus to the north and the Azerbaijan wetlands to the south. Hot enough in summer to ripen any grape to perfection, the morning fog and the abundant rivers flowing down from the high Caucasus help fill them with bold flavor.

Qveri pots iwinetcHistory of Kakheti winegrowing takes a start from VI millennium BC. Grape leftovers, discovered by the archeologists, date back to the mentioned period and they are the oldest around the globe, which proves once again that Georgia is a homeland of wine. 500 out of world-known 2.000 grape species are Georgian. Everyone can enjoy the world’s oldest wine culture and discover the unique Qvevri tradition of clay pots used to create delicious, unfiltered, organic wines.

Touring this region for wine tasting is becoming ever more popular, and there are many different wineries you can visit and taste variety of wines.

Main Grape varieties

Georgian grape varietyRkatsiteli – aboriginal vine breed of white wine grapes.

Rkatsiteli grows in all Kakhetian areas and can be consumed as fruit. It stands out for abundant yields. In Kakhetian conditions it fully ripens around mid-September.

Kakhuri Mtsvane –  (Kakhetian Green) aboriginal vine breed of white wine grapes that can be mainly found in Sagarejo District, particularly around Manavi Village whose soil makes it reveal its best features. Mtsvane is known for its good crop yield.

Qisi – Georgian aboriginal vine breed of white wine grapes. Qisi is intermediate breed between Rkatsiteli and Kakhuri Mtsvane. Its grapes make both table and sparkling wines.

Khikhvi – Georgian ancient aboriginal vine breed of white wine grapes that can be mainly found in Gurjaani District, particularly around Kardenakhi Village. It can be used to produce high-quality fortified liqueur wines. This breed does not yield much crops.

Cabernet-Sauvignon – French vine breed of red grapes. It is especially prevalent in Bordeaux. In Georgia it can be found in Telavi and Kvareli Districts and used to make high-quality table wines.

AOC Tsinandali – AOC Tsinandali is located in the Telavi district, on the right bank of the river Alazani at an altitude of 300 -750 meters above the sea level. The region includes villages Tsinandali, Kisiskhevi, Kondoli, Vardisubani, Akura and other nearby villages. The most famous Georgian white wine “Tsinandali” is made from the Rkatsiteli grapes

AOC Mukuzani – Mukuzani is situated in the centre of Kakheti, in Gurjaani district on the right bank of Alazani river at the altitude of 350-750 m above the sea level. Micro-zone includes the whole area of Mukuzani; villages Velistsikhe, Vazisubani, Chumlaki and other nearby sites. The grapes mature end of September. The main grape variety growing in Mukuzani AOC is Saperavi, which makes one of the best Georgian red wines Mukuzani.

AOC Akhasheni – Akhasheni is located in the centre of Kakheti, on the right board of Alazani river on the 350-700m above the sea level. Mainly Akhasheni and Chumlaki villages make up AOC Akhasheni. Saperavi is the most cultivated grape variety there. In Soviet times the famous Akhasheni wine used to be semy-sweet. Nowadays excellent dry red wines are made from this AOC. AOC Napareuli is situated in the Northern part of Kakheti, in the upper part of Alazani river at the 400-500 m above the sea level. The AOC includes Napareuli, Saniore, Jugaani, Artana, Pshaveli and other nearby villages. In the AOC Napareuli are produced as red as well white wines. The red wine is 100% made from Saperavi grape.

AOC Kindzmarauli – AOC Kindzmarauli is located in the eastern part of Kakheti, in Kvareli district. The vineyards are placed on the 250-550 m above the sea level mostly along the left board of Alazani river. AOC Kindzmarauli is characterized with very unique climate and structure. Kindzmarauli soil contains number of precious metals such as gold, diamond, silver etc. The unique natural conditions of these vineyards have an impact on the superior quality of wine. If in the past Kindzmarauli was famous only as a red semi-sweet wine, today excellent dry wines are made from the Saperavi grapes.

Kakh Technology of wine making
QveriWine is made in every family in Kakheti. And this is the rule most of the Kakhetian peasants follow. Traditionally, picked grapes are placed in a special building – the wine-cellar. They use the winepress for pressing grapes. The juice is then poured into clay jars called Kvevri that are kept in the ground – where it stays to matured and turn into wine. People use special sacks made of leather – Tiki and Rumba, to transport and keep the wine. Wineglasses are mainly made of clay. Traditionally, there are special horns of a goat or the aurochs also used for drinking wine when making special toasts.


Georgian wine making iwinetcKvevri is used for keeping wine. It is made of clay that passes through a special treatment. In order to maintain temperature of wine, the jar is put in the ground; it is then hermetically closed with the grape juice inside, until the juice finally turns into wine. The pitchers were also opened for mixing the juice and removing Chacha. Nowadays, wine is rarely made in Kvevris but mostly in wooden barrels. During some archeological excavations, the Kvevri culture was unearthed in ancient layers. There was also a tradition of Kvevris to churches.


IWINETC 2014Grape-picking in Georgia is called Rtveli – a Vintage. Rtveli starts at the end of September and continues for about two weeks. In Kakheti, the vintage is a labor feast. Grape-picking starts in early morning and lasts till the late evening. The event is accompanied by special folk songs dedicated to the process. Picked grapes are kept in baskets called – Godori. The vintage is studded as a rule, with neighbors and relatives, and guests participating in the activity. At the end of the working day, people gather at the table to celebrate together.

Delegates able to stay on after the International Wine Tourism Conference will be able to visit the region on one of the many post conference wine tours.

Screaming deal for Wine & Travel Bloggers to attend IWINETC Georgia announced!

The 2014 International Wine Tourism Conference will take place March 28 – 29 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Up to 300 wine, culinary and travel professionals and wine and travel social and traditional media professionals will gather from throughout the world to meet, learn, and share at this, the sixth annual conference for the wine and culinary tourism industry.

Alaverdi monastery 330 places will be allocated to active wine and travel bloggers with a massive 60% discount on the price of the two day event. The Conference will include around 30 talks and workshops with an exhibition area to include wine tourism destinations not only in and around Georgia but also in grape escape destinations around the world. The popular evening After Conference programme will include the Grand Wines of Georgia Tasting and there will be smaller tastings of wines from neigbouring countries as well as a wine tasting from the 2015 host country!

Bloggers will also have the opportunity to participate in pre and post conference tours to the nearby Kakheti wine region where they will discover the world’s oldest wine culture and the unique Qvevri tradition of clay pots used to create delicious, unfiltered, organic wines.

More information can be viewed at Wine Bloggers are Wine Tourists!

Photo Collage: Mary Cressler member of the IWINETC Blogger -Media Group 2013


The Great Georgian Feast (Supra)

Supra (literally meaning table-cloth) is very much alive and is found on a daily basis in cities as in villages. Spread out before you, you will find a superb range of meats, cheeses, vegetables more often than not organically produced, and often at high altitude amid pure mountain air. Matsoni (Georgian yogurt) and the many varieties of cheeses from sheep, cow and goat’s milk are the products of these deep green pastures. As the ‘Tamada’ or toast-maker raises a glass to ‘friendship’ look down the table at the array of aromatic foods covering the surface. 

Georgian food iwinetc 2013Food

Georgia’s rich and savory cuisine is the natural extension of a fertile, mineral-rich landscape fed by the pure waters of the Caucasus Mountains. Due to the antiquity of the culture here it is hardly surprising Georgia has developed such a strikingly original cuisine. Not only is it a perfect accompaniment to the rich viticulture there, they make a point in showing it off to their guests in “Supras”. Most of their food is organic, and the ingredients from our incredibly varied cuisine profit from the mild climate that provides fresh vegetables for three-quarters of the year – and we have the best Tomato’s you’ve ever tasted.

Numerous aromatic herbs give their dishes an uncommonly exotic aroma. Rich in walnuts, pomegranate, vegetable pates, organic fresh meats, wild herbs and love of garlic, their cuisine provides a superb accompaniment to the endless supply of fine wine.

Georgian food iwinetc 2013Toasting

Georgia’s ancient and venerated tradition of hospitality extends to the table as well. Georgian toasting is a thing apart; it is at the very center of their culture, nowhere is it so elaborate, eloquent and inclusive.


Georgian food iwinetc 2013The role of tamada, the toastmaster, is an exquisite art form in itself. A tamada must be a philosopher-poet, a wit and jokester, an orator and social commentator, and even a singer who effortlessly improvise an engaging atmosphere of camaraderie and convivial pleasure. A certain pattern and pace must be maintained so that periods of relative quiet and reflection juxtapose with the general joviality and energy of a feast. Toasts, however, are not simple declarations; they are expected to be speeches mixed with mirth, spoken verse and insight. Toasts are usually made with wine, toasting with beer is an insult to the one toasted. Georgians are very generous with their wine, but since toasts are the only time you are supposed to drink your wine, they have many toasts (they have always been practical people). In fact, they will use just about anything as an excuse to toast, especially during IWINETC 2013! So get used to your family, your country and friendship and your character being toasted!

Find out more about Georgia as a grape escape destination here>>

Tbilisi Marriott Hotel venue for IWINETC 2014 Georgia

We are pleased to announce that the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel will be the venue for the International Wine Tourism Conference (28 – 29 March) and Wine Tourism Workshop (30 March) 2014.  As with past conference venues there are plenty of stories to discover!

During 100 year history the hotel witnessed all the main political and historical turbulence of the country.

Tbilisi as the capital city and, therefore the hotel itself was in the heart of those events, including:

  • Independence from Russian Empire in 1917;
  • Invasion of Georgia by Soviet Russia in 1921;
  • Carnage reprisals of Georgian youth in March 1954 and April, 1989 when Georgians rebellion against Soviet Regime started;
  • Civil War in Tbilisi in 1992;
  • And finally, the Rose Revolution in 2003, where Tbilisi Marriott Hotel was in the center of movements.

Tbilisi Marriott venue for IWINETC 2014The Hotel Majestic was known as the “Visiting Card” of “Beau Monde” among which were the famous Nobel Brothers and Siemens.

In Soviet times all the VIP guests – John Steinbeck, Jean Paul Sartre, George Balanchine, Fitzroy McClain (Prototype of British Agent 007), Margaret Thatcher and many others, stayed in this hotel.

Historical Chronology at a Glance

Tbilisi Marriott venue for IWINETC 2014In 1910, it was decided to build the first European standard hotel in Tbilisi. Construction started in 1911.

In 1915 construction was over and the hotel named “Majestic” was opened along with first cinema in Georgia called “Luxembourg”

Later in 1916, the architectural project of the hotel received golden medal at the international exhibition in Paris, France.

Tbilisi Marriott venue for IWINETC 2014In 1917, because of the World War I hotel was altered to military hospital.

In 1921, Russian Red Army invaded Georgia and the building was transferred to the Soviet Labor’s Committee of Georgia.

In 1936, Soviet authorities refurbished hotel and on 14th February, 1939 the hotel was opened as “Hotel Tbilisi”.

Tbilisi Marriott venue for IWINETC 2014New Hotel had 125 rooms for 310 persons. The hotel had one of the best restaurants for 100 persons, in all the USSR and a café for 70 persons;

It was the largest and the most comfortable hotel in Georgia, and was listed among top 10 hotels all over the USSR.

In 1990s, during the Civil War the hotel building was a military stronghold of the opposition and arm-fire dramatically damaged it.

In 2002, hotel was again renewed and launched as Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, now the beauty IWINETC 2014 Georgiaand pride of Tbilisi and IWINETC 2014 venue!

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Tbilisi Marriott Hotel – 13, Rustaveli Avenue, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia