This morning we began our tour with a trip to Bagrationi 1882, Georgia’s first sparkling wine producer. They were established in 1937, but their first vintage was not until after World War II, in 1945. They have wines made both by the Traditional method, with the 2nd fermentation occurring in the bottle, and the Charmat Method, with the 2nd fermentation occurring in large pressurized tanks. The primary grapes used in these sparkling wines are Chinuri, Tsitska and Mtsvane. We were able to sample three wines: Bagrationi Finest Brut, Bagrationi Rosé Brut (both Traditional Method) and Bagrationi Rosé (Charmat Method).
Next up was a visit to brandy producer Sarajishvili the oldest leading wine brandy producer in Georgia. The company was established in 1884 being the pioneer of introducing wine brandy production using classical French cognac technology in the entire Russian Empire of those days. Wide range of liquids, starting from 3 years-old and ending at 100 years-old brandies, are produced to satisfy brandy lovers.
High up on a hilltop, overlooking the confluence of two rivers and the holy town of Mtskheta, is the Jvari church, one of the holiest sites in Georgia. The existing church was built in the 7th century and sits on ruin of a 6th century church. Its location is where King Mirian erected a sacred wooden cross after his conversion by St Nino in the 4th century. The church is very simple monastic architecture, sitting demurely among the stunning landscapes.
Make sure you don’t try to photograph the monk on duty as he is likely to ball at you.
Lunch at Gujari in Mtskheta
Gujari is a gem not to be missed while enjoying Georgian wine and culture. You enter through a small shop that includes a tasting area. As you ascend the spiral staircase you are greeted by panoramic views of the mountains and landscape. Once seated, the extensive menu features many traditional Georgian dishes well prepared and simply delicious. Dill appears to be a common component of most dishes adding to the aromatics and making it all the more appealing. Beef tongue in adika sauce is not to be missed as the texture melts in your mouth.
Château Mukhrani began in 1878 with the passion of one man and has survived power changes and revolutions to a rebirth in 2002. Through hard work and love, the Château has been rebuilt with updated equipment while still maintaining the historical feel of the space. There are 100 hectares adjacent to the Château planted with Saperavi, Shavkapito, Tavkveri, Cabernet Sauvignon, Goruli Mtsvane, Rkatsiteli, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. Each wine has its own story to share with Georgian terroir and history being critical to the experience.
Tomorrow, Saturday March 29, is Day 1 of the International Wine Tourism Conference
Exploring Wine Tourism Sessions include:
- Georgia-Cradle of Wine
- Chicken Soup for the Wine Tourist’s Soul
- Re-inventing Tradition: Qveris, Amphorae, Concrete Eggs, & The Natural Wine Movement
- Wine as Value in Tourism
- Using Sensory Analysis as Games for a Memorable Visit – Workshop
- Kindzmarauli Marani
- What I told Georgia and what I learned from Georgia
- Wine Tourism-The Essence of Community Tourism Development
- In a World of Many Bands, How Do You Create a Life Long Customer
- Wine as Culture. Case Study: Lazio
- Wines of Georgia Grand Tasting
Erin Korpisto & Christina Portz with a bit of Swift