Situated at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Georgia is recognised as the oldest winemaking country in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that Georgia has completed more than 8,000 vintages - an enduring history that has given rise to more than 525 indigenous grape varieties grown across ten distinct wine-growing regions. It is thought that the word 'wine' is derived from the word 'gvino', the Georgian word for wine.
Bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and the Black Sea, Georgia has an ideal climate for viticulture. The summers are the right side of hot, winters are not too cold and rarely attract frost and the rivers around the vineyards receive mineral-rich waters from the mountains.
With its wide range of grape varieties and winemaking practices, Georgia offers the wine-drinker an unparalleled range of tastes: some unique, some familiar, and some nearly impossible to describe. As winemakers continue to explore and experiment with the country’s native grape varieties, more distinctive and unique wines will continue to emerge from the region.
Since the 6th century BC, Georgians have made wine in a vessel called a 'Qvevri'. These giant (generally 1000 litre) clay vessels are often lined with beeswax and buried underground to keep temperatures constant. Winemakers ferment the juice in these vessels, simultaneously allowing the grape skins to macerate with the juice, which turn what many western consumers expect to be white wines into an amber or orange wines, and adding tannin to both the resultant amber and red wines.
The Qvevri's are still made by hand by one of Georgia’s five “master” qvevri making families; with the rising popularity of amber and natural wines, there is an increasing demand for qvevris in Georgia and around the world. In 2013, this tradition of Georgian winemaking was added to the UNESCO list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”