Georgia is fairly considered to be the cradle of winemaking. In 2015, ancient clay amphorae (qvevri) dating back 8,000 years were discovered at an archeological dig in southeastern Georgia. Researchers who analyzed the remains of grapes and grape seeds inside the qvevri dated them to 6000 BCE. This scientific fact proves ancient Georgia to be the oldest spot of grape winemaking in the world, which existed 5,000 years before the beginning of the Iron Age. Many of the vines cultivated in Europe and Asia are known to have Georgian origins. Nowadays this beautiful land of the ancient wine culture is cherishing the national heritage to produce some of the world’s most outstanding wines, with wine culture boosting the national tourism industry. It’s no surprise that Georgia is one of the leaders in the Wine Travel Awards 2023 public voting! The WTA team is glad to greet the Georgian winners.
SHUMI Winery is the WTA 2023 winner in several categories: The Visiting Card of the Country / Must visit, Brand – the visiting card of the country, Progressive approach, Cultural mission, Magnet of the region, and Education in Enotourism / Unique program for Shumi Wine School.
SHUMI Winery and tourist complex is located in the village of Tsinandali, Kakheti, in a legendary winemaking region of Georgia. This land belonged to the kings of Georgia and Kakheti, prince Alexander Chavchavadze. The winery has a 25-year history in viticulture and winemaking and has an impeccable reputation as a producer of Georgian wines. SHUMI has created a wide range of grape-based alcoholic beverages made using the company’s own unique technologies. SHUMI Winery was recognized as the Best producer of Georgia by the MUNDUS VINI Grand International Award. SHUMI is one of the leaders of Georgian enotourism. SHUMI Tourist Complex is unique both in infrastructure and in operation. The first Wine museum in Georgia, the first private ampelography collection, the Georgian Ethnographic Pavilion, the authentic Marani, where SHUMI’s wines are made in qvevri and aged in oak barrels, the famous Enoteca — a cellar vault holding SHUMI’s best wines, all surrounded by a beautiful garden with sculptures, make SHUMI an outstanding tourist location.
SHUMI Wine School launched 6 years ago offers educational programs focusing on the history and development of viticulture, modern and innovative methods of laying and growing vineyards based on varietal biodiversity, and complete agrotechnological cycles of vineyard management. The program teaches the specifics of grape processing, modern innovative and traditional technologies for the production of wine and other alcoholic beverages of grape origin, vinification techniques, sensory assessment based on international rules, as well as current trends in the global wine tourism, including management, planning and promotion of “wine routes”. The program is taught by the experts of SHUMI, as well as well-known Georgian and international experts. The best students can get practical training at SHUMI Winery.
Chateau Mukhrani, the WTA 2023 winner in The Visiting Card of the Country / Must visit category, is one of Georgia’s most famous wineries which has been crafting fine wines since 1878. Since then, Chateau Mukrani has been the icon of quality, status, excellence, and style.
Nowadays, Chateau Mukhrani located in Mukhrani village near Mtskheta, Kartli terroir, is one of the top wine destinations in Georgia, offering amazing wines and great services, combining the authentic traditions with the international best practices. Chateau Mukhrani is the country’s leader in both quality wine production, and wine tourism / hospitality. The XIX century Mukhrani Palace is a magnificent building, with luxurious the interiors created by an internationally acclaimed designer Juan Pablo Molyneaux. Molyneux’s interior designs refer to the past with a twist of the unexpected, combining fantasy and centuries-old techniques.
Château Mukhrani’s splendid XIX century palace is surrounded by the wood, French gardens and pristine vineyards. The dining area of the palace offers French cuisine with a local twist, accompanied by fine wines from Château Mukhrani cellars.
Askaneli Winery & Distillery, the winner of WTA 2023 pubic voting in two nominations, Brand – the visiting card of the country and Progressive approach, begins its history in a small village of Askana in the Guria region, where the winemaker Antimoz Chkhaidze, one of the founding ancestors, was engaged in the production of wine, selling it not only in Georgia, but also abroad. Nowadays, the founder of the company Gocha Chkhaidze is well-known for his incredible input in the revival of the Georgian viticulture, preserving and recovering unique grape varieties. Askaneli Winery & Distillery owns hundreds of hectares of vineyards, two winemaking facilities in Kakheti and Tbilisi and one fruit distillery in Guria. In addition to producing more than 60 labels of wine, the company produces aged brandy, chacha and sparkling wines. Askaneli is one of the largest companies in Georgia, engaged in the rescue and preservation of indigenous grape varieties and in the promotion of Georgian winemaking.
Gocha’s Collection is the top line of premium wines from Askaneli, which Gocha Chkhaidze has created himself. The Collection includes three still wines: Prima, an elegant blend of Chardonnay and Rkatsiteli; Muza Qvevri, an outstanding blend of indigenous Rkatsiteli, Kakhuri Mtsvane, Kisi, Krakhuna and Mtsvivani aged in Qvevri, and Saperavi Reserve. One of its wines Prima is dedicated to his wife, to his muse, prima ballerina Irma Nioradze.
Besides its wineries, Georgia is well-known for hosting impressive international wine events, with WinExpo Georgia, the WTA 2023’s winner in the Enogastronomic Events / Magnet of the region category, being the most famous one. WinExpo Georgia is a leading wine industry exhibition with a continuous 15-year tradition. During all these years it has been providing the best opportunities for Georgian producers to present their products to both local and international markets. The expo’s visitors include wine agents, traders, HoReCa representatives, buyers from retail chains and wine boutiques, wine professionals, influencers and international media. WinExpo Georgia is attracting almost 4000 visitors annually, presenting up to 100 companies from different countries. The 15th International ExpoGeorgia Wine and Spirits Fair will be held on June 2-4, 2023.
Georgian wine tourism would hardly exist without inspired — and inspiring — travel guides. WTA team is happy to introduce two Georgian winners of WTA 2023 public voting in The brightest journey category: Daria Kholodilina a.k.a. Dariko Mogzauri and Sofia Nikabadze.
Daria Kholodilina is a Ukrainian-born and Georgia-based wine tourism specialist, and a big friend and promoter of Georgian wine. She is regularly blogging about Georgian wine in her social media under the moniker Dariko Mogzauri (Dariko the Traveler in Georgian). She participated in developing the Georgian National Tourism Strategy 2015-2025. Her contributions were focused on marketing and promotion.
Daria is also a co-author of the definitive (and only) English language guidebook to Georgia’s wine regions, “Georgia: A Guide to the Cradle of Wine.” Published in 2017, this book received the Geoffrey Roberts Award and was highly praised by major international media outlets in the world of wine: The Guardian, jancisrobinson.com, World of Fine Wine, and others. Daria is the co-founder of “Trails and Wines”, a tailor-made tours provider and a proud holder of the Best Niche Tourism Award 2019 at Georgian National Tourism Award. Based on the activity of Trails and Wines, she was listed as one of the 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs of 2018 according to “Entrepreneur Magazine Georgia”.
Sofia Nikabadze, a well-known Georgian wine blogger, loves wines and travels a lot around Georgia to discover some interesting small family cellars and introduce them to wine lovers. She has been interested in Georgian wine making for 8 years. She is a graduate from the “Wine Connoisseur” Wine School and Studio and is the member of Georgian Wine Guild, “Wine and Grape Origin Alcoholic Beverage Tasting”. Sofia believes that Georgia is going through an era of wine renaissance: new wineries are emerging, the attitude towards Georgian wine is changing, more and more foreign experts, wine connoisseurs and consumers are interested in Georgian wine. All of this is thanks to the fact that Georgian wine finds its proper place in a big family of world wine.
And all this is happening due to outstanding work and effort of the Georgian winemakers, experts, wine travel professionals and wine enthusiasts. Bravo, Saqartvelo!