Danilo Di Salvo
A few weeks ago, back in October, I found myself lucky enough to be visiting Georgia again. I had three purposes for this trip:
- To visit a vineyard in Western Georgia
- To be part of a business delegation from the UK
- Most importantly, to catch up with my great friend and business partner Anzor
In this short blog, I wish to share with you some of the wonderful experiences that Anzor and I had in Georgia…
We were invited for a tour around the prestigious Royal Khvanchkara vineyard in Ambrolauri. The history of this vineyard goes back many thousands of years, however it was two Georgian noblemen Dimitri and Luarsabi Kiphiani, who perfected the local wine making methods back in the 19th century. The vineyards sit high up in the Racha mountains, which means that the grapes see a large temperature difference between day and night. This large temperature delta provides the wine with a unique and delicious flavour. Today, the vineyard continues to make wines using the traditional methods of the aforementioned noblemen, complemented by the added input of quality control via modern technology.
To get to the vineyard in good time, Anzor and I had to leave very early in the morning and drive three hours west of Tbilisi. The road took us through some breathtaking scenery as we climbed higher and higher in to the Racha mountains. Halfway to our destination, in a place called Zestaphoni, there is a long road (about a mile or so) that is lined solely with coffee shops! According to Anzor, it is a tradition to stop here for a coffee and so we did. Upon arrival to the vineyard, we were greeted by the CEO, George, the CFO, Giorgi and the Export Manager, Keti. We met the farmers and staff of the vineyard before being shown around the cellar. We were made to feel very welcome, which is a huge compliment as everyone in Georgia is super-welcoming!
We all sat down together at a beautiful old wooden table covered by a lovely traditional Georgian table cloth ready to try some wine. We had four wines to taste and savour; Alexandrouli (red), Tvishi (semi-sweet white), Royal Khvanchkara (semi-sweet red), and Usakhelauri (red). All of these wines were fabulous; different and thought provoking. My favourite was the Usakhelauri, which is the best wine that I have ever tasted. Strong yet subtle, a little bit smoky and very slightly sweet – just perfect. Anzor loved the Royal Khvanchkara, it’s slightly sweet initially followed by an intense and fruity flavour. We loved the vineyard, the people and most importantly the wine. We are planning to import these wines in to the UK in 2019 – watch this space!
Happy 30th Anniversary to Bristol and Tbilisi
gvino UK were honoured to be invited to the celebration for the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Bristol and Tbilisi. During the day, there was a business conference showcasing the best of Georgia and promoting the country as a place for business. Personally, I have found doing business in Georgia a pleasure- processes are quick and people are easy to deal with. In the evening, the British Ambassador to Georgia held a reception at the British Embassy. Many people who were at the reception had never been to Georgia before, so it was wonderful to hear their views on the country, the food and of course, the wine. It was fitting that Vazisubani Estate Qvevri wine was served to all the guests. We have certainly fulfilled a number of orders from the Bristol area since this trip! We hope to become more of a presence not only in Bristol but around the UK to give you the Georgian wine experience.
Overall, the trip was more than I could have expected. I ate and drank like a King, and I met the most generous people. The only slight fly in an otherwise wonderful ointment was Anzor’s ridiculous habit of naming every single Lada that we encountered – and believe me there were lots in Georgia! Further, Anzor insisted that we turn up to the British Embassy in his second car, which sadly wasn’t anything particularly exotic.