Straddling Europe and Asia, and cradled between the greater and lesser Caucasus ranges, Georgia’s rich culture and diverse landscapes belie its modest size. Sub-tropical valleys and imposing mountains immediately inspire awe, while the near legendary hospitality of the Georgian people invites visitors to share in a deeper understanding of the country and its heritage.
Keep Georgia on your mind as you plan your next trip!
Having gone from backpacker secret to mainstream darling in just a decade, Georgia today is by far the most visited country in the South Caucasus, and it’s easy to see why: its rich culture and astonishingly diverse landscapes make it an ideal destination for anyone loving history and nature on the grandest of scales.
From its green valleys spread with vineyards to its old churches and watchtowers perched in fantastic mountain scenery, Georgia (Saqartvelo, საქართველო) never disappoints. In recent years Tbilisi has emerged as one of the coolest cities in Europe, with a burgeoning club scene, world-class restaurants and a selection of natural wine bars that easily make it the hippest spot in the region. Equally special are its proud, high-spirited people: Georgia claims to be the birthplace of wine, and this is a place where guests are considered blessings and hospitality is the very stuff of life. Gaumarjos!
The wonders of Georgian wine
Winemaking is a part of Georgia’s national psyche and, with evidence of the craft dating back 8000 years, it’s not hard to understand why. Georgians are deeply proud to still be using traditional methods to create their vintages: here, the grapes are pressed and the whole lot, including seeds, skin and stems, is transferred to large clay pots called qvevri, and placed underground for several months to ferment. The process results in a more ‘natural’ flavour, and wines with a much deeper colour. If you are a wine drinker, there is no shortage of places to sample a few different varieties.
Winery Khareba, in the eastern Kakheti region, produces both European-style and qvevri wines using Georgian grape varieties. The sprawling hillside winery is set in stunning landscaped grounds, and wines are aged and stored in the perfect conditions afforded by a Soviet-era tunnel carved into the mountain.
Iago’s Winery in Mtskheta is a much smaller, family-run affair, producing a limited number of wines from Chinuri grapes grown in Iago’s own vineyard. Wine tours are an intimate experience here, with tastings served alongside delicious Georgian food in a homely setting.
And if you’re feeling brave, sample some chacha, the lively spirit distilled from the pulp remaining from grape fermentation. Go easy though – homemade varieties can be up to 65% proof. Gaumarjos (cheers)!