Ljubljana, 7. 2. 2020
comes to organic, especially skin contact wine, Georgia is one of those
destinations that should be on every natural wine lover’s list.
Soviet republic flanked by majestic Caucasus mountains on one side and Black
sea on the other is not only home to a whopping 525 (!) indigenous grape
varieties, but it’s also considered the birthplace of wine.
The archaeologists have traced the world's first known wine back to the people of the South
Caucasus in 6,000 BC – these early Georgians discovered grape juice could be
turned into something much more exciting (and intoxicating) by burying it
underground for the winter.
And to this day they kept this legacy alive, together with the know-how
and the tradition of making wine in huge clay amphoras, known here as “qvevri”.
It wasn’t easy, though. Back in the Soviet times when the aim was to produce
large quantities of cheap, commercial wine for the masses, the tradition of
making qvevri wine almost died out – despite the fact Russians loved Georgian
wine and still have great affinity for it.
Out of those 525 sorts only four were available
commercially in the Soviet times and many of the best winemaking regions and
positions were abandoned, because they preferred to spread the vineyards in the
valleys, where they could squeeze more from the vines. At the height of this
mass production the biggest Georgian wine cellars produced a whopping 18
million bottles of wine a year. But it wasn’t the traditional kind – qvevris
were practically forbidden, replaced by big tanks and oak barrels that added
that extra oakiness.
Luckily, Georgia has vast countryside with plenty of small homesteads
and tiny, family wineries where they kept producing their wine for personal
consumption the old ways, in kvevris, buried underground in their cellars. And
the art of magical qvevri wine has been preserved.
One of those families are the Berishvilis, small, boutique wine
producers located in the Naprauli zone in
the Kakheti region, right in the heart of Georgian
Ketevan Berishvili learned the ropes of organic winemaking business from her
father Kakha Berishvili. First she just helped out, but slowly, she got sucked
in and made her very first vintage in the family cellar in 2015 under the
name GOGO Wine. A juicy rosé made with the local grape varieties of Rkatsiteli and Saperavi.
The grapes are farmed entirely with the use of
biodynamic preparations and transported by horse from
the vineyards to the cellar where they are fermented together in qvevris.
Before abandoning her urban life and moving to the
countryside Ketevan studied French philosophy,
lived in France for a while and got her MA degree in PR management from Georgian
Institute of Public Affairs.
But since she never really felt that particular career path
is right for her, she left, moved to the village of Artana where her father
owns the vineyards and threw herself with heart and soul into winemaking. She
bought an additional vineyard and is now also exporting abroad.
her, she’s only at the beginning. She is looking to see what the future has in
store for her, and hoping she can lead by example and open the doors for more
women-led businesses in the wine industry.