Did you know that Georgia (the country) is home to the oldest wine producing region in the world? Locals have been cultivating grapes and producing neolithic wine in the South Caucasus for at least 8,000 years! That’s why Georgia proudly claims the title of “birthplace of wine.” Below are some high points of the new trip we offer there, and you can see the full itinerary here.
Republic of Georgia: Tbilisi, Winelands & Highlands
During this 12-night learning adventure in the Republic of Georgia, spend three nights in the Kakheti Region— Georgia’s wine country— visiting vineyards and villages to learn about agriculture, sustainability, winemaking, bread baking, and community.
- Visit Tibaani Vineyards, owned by the Pheasant’s Tears Winery, one of the country’s rising stars in the natural wine industry. Walk through the vineyard and cellars with a local winegrower to learn about Georgia’s natural methods of winemaking. Find out how the grapes are grown, macerated, and aged in huge ceramic vessels lined with beeswax, according to ancient Georgian traditions.
- Enjoy a wine tasting at Togonidze Winery, where beloved founder Gia Togonidze and her family have earned worldwide recognition both for their warm hospitality and for their natural wines crafted with methodologies passed down through over 8,000 years.
- Take a day trip to Ikalto and Shalauri villages to learn more about the history of winemaking in Georgia at Ikalto Monastery, where an academy was established in the 12th century by David IV of Georgia, which included a wine-making school. Ikalto is also the site of some of the oldest found qvevris (clay jugs used for winemaking) in Georgia. In 2013, the traditional Qvevri method of wine-making was honored by UNESCO when it was inducted into their prestigious Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
- Visit Chavchavadze House Museum, located in the historic estate of Georgian aristocrat, poet, and winemaker Alexander Chavchavadze. This estate was a center of the intellectual life during the 19th century. Here, Alexander and his father founded the first and foremost winery in the country, which still produces the dry white Tsinandali wine.
- Take part in a craft beer tasting at Lost Ridge Craft Brewery & Inn in the village of Qedeli, where they specialize in farmhouse ales like Saison and Tripel with a Georgian twist. Brewed on-site and aged in the beer cave, the brewery pairs classic Belgian (and other) styles with local Kakhetian fruits and spices in some of their recipes. You’ll also have the chance to walk around the Lost Ridge greenhouse and organic orchards, where a “food forest” is in the making, to hear from a local expert how fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown sustainably on-site for their cuisine and beermaking.
- Visit the village of Zinobiani to learn about the Orthodox Udi refugees who settled here in the 1920, escaping the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Today, a group of young Udis descendants are dedicated to sharing their rich cultural and gastrnomoic heritage. You’ll sample Udi cuisine, which incorporates flavors from the Muslim culture, including “fakhlinhooft”– a savory combination of beans and rice flavored with basil served alongside matsoni, an authentic Georgian sour cream.
- Visit a local family in the tiny village of Tsdo, where you’ll participate in a master class in the art of making Khinkali– savory Georgian dumplings. In Georgia’s mountainous areas, cooks often mix in special signature spices that set their regional khinkali apart. You’ll feast on your creations together with the family, while sipping fiery Georgian chacha– a strong traditional liquor made from grapes.
- Stay at the Kabadoni boutique hotel, set on the hilly slopes of the historic wine region village of Sighnaghi, with views of Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.