Imereti: a rare gem in the precious necklace made of Georgian wines

Imereti is one of the most diverse regions of Georgian winemaking. Its climatic conditions and soil composition are very different. That’s why the wines are so special and contrasting. This is a place where the beauty of nature competes for a place in the tourists’ hearts, with the locals’ hospitality, the charms of ancient architectural structures, and the unsurpassed taste of cuisine and wines.

Imereti is one of the five main wine-growing regions in Georgia, but its role in the history of the cradle of winemaking is special. The unique climatic conditions and properties of the soils, combined with traditional methods and innovative production approaches, put Imereti wines into a league of their own. In particular, the combination of historical practices, such as the use of churi for fermentation, with up-to-date technologies, demonstrates the region’s adaptability to changes and respect for the past. Here, traditions and folk customs are standing behind each dish, each wine’s name. Therefore, experts recommend visiting Imereti first to learn about the unique Georgian winemaking method “Kvevri”, which was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

The land embraced by mountains

In the western part of Georgia, among green mountains and relict forests, the charming Imereti lies. This land is rich in high mountains with emerald canyons and blue lakes, ancient monasteries of the 12th century, icy waterfalls, and mysterious caves. The mountains occupy 70% of the territory, which results in the formation of various zones with their microclimates and types of soils, yielding a wide range of Imereti wines. Unique terroirs: Sviri microzone is located in Imereti Region, Zestaphoni municipality, on the left bank of the river Kvirila. At the same time, 15.1% of all vineyards in Georgia are located in Imereti. Their altitudes range from 50 to 500 meters above sea level, offering a variety of microzones favorable for viticulture. The climate is characterized by cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers, and allows the vines to efficiently store water and nutrients and reach full ripeness by the harvesting time. Thus, Imereti is one of the brightest wine regions in this excessively beautiful and hospitable country.

What is it offering and what bestowing?

They say that Imereti is the heart of Georgia because it is the place where the Georgian state was born. And Imereti’s heartbeat begins with Kutaisi, this region’s capital. The tourist routes start here, introducing guests to the region’s natural attractions, its architectural and historical masterpieces decorated with frescoes and exquisite mosaics. It is in Kutaisi that the famous old Green Bazaar is located – in this very place, we advise you to start discovering the Imereti cuisine, offering fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs, spices, and specialties.

Imereti is a popular tourist destination with dozens of mineral water resorts and recreation centers: Tshaltubo, Sairme, and the Sataphlia Nature Reserve with its karst cave and dinosaur footprints.

And, of course, experienced wine lovers and experts come to Imereti to discover the true tastes of Georgian wines. Imereti is a real treasure trove of autochthonous grape varieties, which are nowadays used by gifted winemakers to make unique wines. The combination of the wealth of raw materials available, ancient technologies, progressive methods of cultivation, up-to-date equipment, and the high level of expertise of the winemakers themselves – all these factors allow Imereti to present fabulous, unique wines to the world.

Diversity of the grape varieties and wine constellations

The varieties spread in Imereti are Tsolikauri, Tsitska, Krakhuna, Kvishkhuri, Dondghlabi, Bazaleturi, Kundza, Tklapa, Otskhanuri Sapere, Argvetuli Sapere, Rko, Adanasuri, Bzvanura, Black Dondghlabi, Dzelshavi, Aladasturi, Vani Chkhaveri, etc. As well as in other regions, traditional winemaking here is associated with qvevri, which is called Churi in Imereti. Unlike Kakhetian traditional wine, here, chacha contains less must. The Imeretian method also calls for the addition of small amounts of pomace to the grape juice during fermentation. After fermentation, the wine is left in Churi for about two months, and then the pulp is removed, transferred to the barrels, and processed. The wine Imeretian type has a beautiful yellow color, full, quite harmonious, and cheerful.

Imereti offers its guests an introduction to unique winemaking, which you will not find anywhere in the world or even in other parts of Georgia. As you know, Imeretian cuisine is incredibly bright, original, and attractive. Many travelers from all over the world come here to enjoy the local cuisine and unique wines. Therefore, a trip to Imeretian wineries will be the most vivid impression for the most sophisticated gourmet.

Looking beyond the far horizons

To protect the wine heritage and promote the region in 2022, the Imereti Wine Association was established with the support and initiative of DMO Imereti. The following year – 2023 – was very active for the association: development of strategies, participation in international competitions, and presentation of wines from Imereti wineries at international wine events. Currently, the Association includes about 70 wineries and marani (cellars for wines aging in qvevri). The establishment of its wine competition, which gathers reputable wine judges from all over the world, became a new qualitative stage in the Association’s activities. Currently, this event logically integrates Imereti wines into the world context, spreading the story of this Georgian gem in the world.

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