With its troubled history under Mongol, Iranian and Russian control, Georgia’s capital city is a real mix of sights, sounds and flavours. But when you leave the city behind, there’s just one thing you need to be concerned with, and that is the fact the Georgian countryside produces some of the best wine in Europe. It’s also widely considered to be the birthplace of wine with a history of 6,000 to 7,000 years. It’s one of the best-kept secrets on the continent, but now that the word is out and we’ll show you the best locations to explore in the wine regions beyond Tbilisi.
The premier location for wine lovers is Kakheti where around 60 – 70% of all of Georgia’s wine is produced.
Kakheti is home to a verdant rolling landscape peppered with craggy vineyards and teeny wine cellars. For most of the year the cellars are sleepy and quiet but when the time comes to harvest the grapes they burst into sudden life. If you time your visit to coincide with the harvest season in September and October you’re sure to find vintners and winemakers proudly displaying their methods which have been unchanged for thousands of years. Indeed, Georgia is one of the oldest wine growing countries in the world, with evidence of winemaking stemming back to 4,000 BC.
1 hour 15 min
Kartli is the region directly surrounding Tbilsi, so can be reached within just a few minutes if hiring a car and taking a day trip from the city.
It has some delectable wines, with up to 500 different grape varieties calling this area home. Kartli is perhaps most famous for its high quality sparkling wines. It’s also known for local handicrafts, especially metalwork, so don’t miss the chance to purchase a few souvenirs on your way through or simply enjoy browsing in the markets.
Situated along the middle and upper sections of the Rioni River, the Imereti region often gets overlooked by its more famous cousin of Kakheti.
But for those who want to explore the off the beaten track wine making areas in Georgia Imereti is a great choice. The best place to aim for is Kutaisi, which produces Gelati (white), Argveti (port), Tsitska (white) and other less known wines, which generally are lighter and less sweet when compared to other Georgian wines. See the traditional method of wine making where grape juice is left to ferment in ‘churis’, clay pots buried underground. The cool earth is said to keep the juice from spoiling, and this method is known to have been used over 6,000 years ago.
2 hours 34 minutes
Racha - Lechkhumi
Northwest Georgia is totally off the tourist map and is one of the most visually stunning locations in the country, with snow-capped mountains framing a landscape of mirror lakes and vineyards climbing up steep gorges.
It’s also the most rewarding place to visit if you’re a true wine buff, as the rarest and most flavourful grape varieties such as Tsulukidze Tetra and Tsolikouri, can be found here. Seek out Usakhelouri, the most expensive wine in the country, and if you manage to find some do make sure you buy it sealed as Georgia’s export laws mean that home brewed wine cannot be taken out of the country.
2 hours 58 min
A small region in the west of Georgia and edged by the Black Sea, Guria has a lot to offer the wine lover.
Most vineyards are planted between 400 and 800 metres above sea level which makes the plants more durable and gives a slightly chalky flavor to the wine. The specialty here is Chkhaveri Rose, an effervescent, brightly coloured dry rose with a long finish.
3 hours 55 min