History of Georgian winemakingFebruary 21, 2022
Georgia - is a country of extremes.Georgia is a country of extremes. Mountain gorges and cliffs about broad river plains. Swift rivers slice beneath serene alpine pastures. Professional archeologists and amateur winemakers all dig in their different way to uncover lost traditions, lost vines, lost civilizations. Georgians have a tremendous sense of pride, not least in their wines and wine culture. They firmly believe their land to be the birthplace of wine and see wine as metaphor for their own blood. Georgia, known to its inhabitants as Sakartvelo, the land of the Kartvelians, has seven different climate zones, forty-nine different soil types and more than five hundred grape varieties, all within a country of fewer than 26,900 miles, a little larger than the state of West Virginia. The Georgian language is a tongue twisting jumble of consonant clusters challenging The English speaker.
The origins of Georgian winemakingIt has 8000 years of wine culture and winemaking history, but at the same time, its current wine industry is remarkably young an in a hurry. About the history of Georgian winemaking we will meet many historical places, culture and artefacts. In early Neolithic Transcaucasia 10000 to 4500 BCE the expression of human ingenuity and adaptability is reflected not only in the built environment, but in the ability to extract more from local resources. Plants were domesticated, cultivated, enjoyed and stored. Innovations in craftwork such as weaving, woodworking and ceramics ultimately revolutionized human life in this region.
Historians' findingsOne of the most significant Georgian finds was the “Khramis Didi Gora” clay vessel with grape bunch ornamentations dated to 6000-5000 BCE. Also there are Shulaveri Gora, Gadachrili Gora and Imiri Gora all within a 3,5 miles area. Georgian had known of the Shulaveri cluster when Dr. Patrick McGovern published his find – about Iranian wine artefact (5400 – 5000 BCE) which was found in Hajji Firuz Tepe, Neolithic village in Zagros mountain. In 2006 archaeological research had become increasingly and multifaceted. Radiocarbon dating, DNA analysis, high resolution microscopy, Geologists and Chemists where working hypothesis for the origins of wine. In 2014 Georgia and its National wine Agency launched “Reasearch Project for the study of Georgian Grapes and Wine Culture”. Preliminary excavations began in 2012-2013 and were followed by the founding of the Grape project in Gadachrili Gorga from 2015 continuing through 2019. In 2014 there was found two clay pots buried below in the ancient rooms, both the walls and bottoms of these pots contained well preserved grains of Vitis Vinifera pollen. Five clay sherds from Gadachrili and three from Shulaveri tested positive not just for tartaric acid as found in Iran, but the other organic acids – malic, succinic, citric found in grape wine. All this samples and science proved that Georgia is Cradle of Vine and Wine, with unstoppable tradition of winemaking and it dates already 8000 years.
Author: Tazo Tamazashvili Best Sommelier in Georgia 2018