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This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: 31/03-06/04

Wine Wednesday: Purity in Chinuri

By Taste Georgia

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Week of 31/03-06/04

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Photo: National Geographic Kids

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Keti Berishvili’s family were winemakers so she became involved with the business at a young age. This was the first year she produced her own wine which is available for purchase at organic wine shops.

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Written more like a blog than a newspaper interview, this article detailed Lizi Gerliani’s experience at the English National Spelling Bee in Tbilisi. It’s a quick and easy read highlighting a different side of Georgia you don’t normally see.

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This article has so many great suggestions for places to eat and drink across Georgia. There are also hotel recommendations.

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Along with the tigers, 18 other animals are being donated to the zoo. After two years of repairs the zoo is thriving!

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The new center will be open towards the end of summer and will feature a research lab, wine cellar, and a hotel. It will employ between 100-150 citizens.

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This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: 24/03-30/03

This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: 24/03-30/03

By Taste Georgia

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Week of 24/03-30/03

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Tuesday (28/03) was the first day of visa free travel to Europe for Georgian citizens. To celebrate, the PM went to Athens then Brussels.

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This week’s Women of Georgia is about Tsopurashvili who talks a lot about growing up with her mother and grandmother. She then discusses her life goals before ending with her experience of dealing with her mother’s diagnosis.

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13 different tournaments will take place within six different regions of the country, and will feature both local and international athletes. The tournaments range from March 31-September 15.

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This article details some great recommendations for visiting Tbilisi, and also some surrounding areas. Fair warning, you have to create an account to have access to the full article, but there is good information within.

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Seven Georgian wine companies introduced their wines at a tasting organized by the Sommelier Association of Monaco. Over 85 sommeliers, wine makers, and media representatives were present.

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This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: Week of 10/03-16/03

This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: Week of 10/03-16/03

By Taste Georgia

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Week of 10/03-16/03

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1. The Largest Low-cost Airlines RyanAir to Launch Flights in Georgia

Thanks to the new decree that Georgian residents can travel through Schengen zone without a visa, RyanAir might go to Georgia. The company has yet to make the official announcement, but flights are expected to start at 5€.

2. 50 Tbilisi pictures that will make you want to visit Georgia
This blogger describes her feelings about Tbilisi, including some great stories of her first time there, before ending with 50 gorgeous pictures.
3. Lucky tourist given VIP treatment and dinner with Prime Minister after becoming 6 millionth person to visit Georgia

Tourism in Georgia is up 7.6% from last year, and the country decided to celebrate by surprising a Dutch tourist with a full VIP experience. The article details what his trip consisted of.

4. A field guide to khachapuri, the indomitable cheese bread of Georgia

Khachapuri is bread filled with cheese, although there is a large variety. This article details the different types of khachapuri while offering recommendations on where to buy it and recipes if you want to make your own.

5. Masterpieces of Georgian & World Art: The Past, Present & Future of the Georgian Museum

The Georgian National Museum Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts opened the new exhibit ‘The Museum of Fine Arts- Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ opened on March 6. The exhibition showcases Georgian and world art and will run for about a month.
6. Soviet po-mo: what can we learn from Georgia’s forgotten master architect?
Discusses Viktor Jorbenadze’s buildings and his personal history. There are also some great pictures of the architecture.

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This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: Week of 02/03-09/03

This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: Week of 02/03-09/03

By Taste Georgia

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Week of 02/03-09/03

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This article is originally in Italian, but can be translated if opened in Google Chrome. Offers suggestions for great food, locations to see, nightlife, and more.

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Focusing on the spice blend Khmeli Suneli, this article details what it is, how to cook with it, and where to buy it. There is also a recipe at the end to make your own!

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Details the top 5 countries Georgia is exporting wine to, while detailing how these numbers have increased in 2017. Georgia has added $20.5 million to the economy during January-February alone!

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This social project is accumulation of quotes from interviews with a variety of Georgian woman. Think “People of New York,” but solely with Georgian Women. This week celebrated International Women’s Day.

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This social project is accumulation of quotes from interviews with a variety of Georgian woman. Think “People of New York,” but solely with Georgian Women. This week celebrated International Women’s Day.

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Australian publications features three producers and tells the story of a wonderful Georgian themed picnic in Australia that featured the food, wine and music of Georgia.

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This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News: Week of 23/02-01/03

This Week in Georgian Food, Wine, Travel and Culture News:

Week of 23/02-01/03

By Taste Georgia

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Week of 23/02-01/03

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Qvevri

Over 500 Artists to Perform at GEM Fest 2017 in Georgia
GEM Fest is a month long EDM festival held in Anklia for the third time. At the time of publication, only 15% of artists had been announced, but more than 500 artists are expected to perform. More information about the event and the link to buy tickets is detailed in the article as well.

Georgian Wine Degustation at Boston Wine Expo
The Georgian National Wine Agency (NWA) presented 18 different Georgian wine producing companies at The Boston Wine Expo. This event is a great chance to establish Georgian wine in the US market. The exportation of Georgian wine to the US increased 15% from 2015 to 2016.

Visas: Council adopts regulation on visa liberalization for Georgians
The decision allows Georgian citizens to visit EU countries without a visa if the trip is under 90 days. Once the Council and the European Parliament sign the adopted regulation, it will be enacted in 20 days.

Interview- Alice Feiring (Okay this was last week, but I wanted to add it because it is too good to skip!)
This in depth interview of Alice Feiring, author of Naked Wine, focuses on wine, writing, tasting natural wines, women in wine, and much more! The concept of activism in wine is discussed.

How to go from Tbilisi airport to the city centre
This is an exceptionally handy article detailing all the ways to get into town from the airport.

How to combine a wine-country tour with an adventure holiday
The first part of the article focuses on touring Sicily, but the later half is about Georgia. One recommendation is to tour the wine country by horseback!

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Top Five Non Georgian Qvevri Wine Producers

Top Five Non Georgian Qvevri Wine Producers

By Taste Georgia

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Qvevri

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Wine has been made in qvevri in the Caucasus for over 8000 years, and as Georgian qvevri wine is enjoying the limelight internationally, it should be no surprise that this technology that links us back to our neolithic ancestors has found its way to International soil. Winemakers around the world have become so interested in producing wine in qvevri that the vessels can’t be produced quickly enough.

I’ve tasted hundreds of qvevri wine in Georgia and have spent the last three years researching and becoming intimate with the process and the winemakers who embrace it. Most winemakers agree that qvevri allows the grapes to express the terroir much better, and that some grapes are much better suited to long macerations than others. Wine, like culture, has context, and sometimes the qvevri wines I have had that are not made in Georgia just feel wrong. They do not make sense and don’t give a sense of place. I think the best winemakers who are embracing qvevri are people in tune with their vineyards, the soil, the grapes and make a point to listen. Qvevri wine is all about patience, a love of the vines and a profound relationship with the land they are grown in. Variety choice is also hugely important.

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Verticacl Tasting of Gravner Qvevri Wines

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Gravner Gravner is based in the Collio hills in Friuli Venezia Giulia on the Italian and Slovenian border. Josko took a trip to California and tasted the chemical stews called wines there that turned him from a modernist to a naturalist in wine. No list of non-Georgian qvevri wine could be possible without the intervention of Josko Gravner whose vision for wines that expressed the land and with the least amount of intervention possible kicked off a movement. I first tasted these wines at a Friuli Venezia Giulia trade show in Rome a number of years ago and most recently I had the great honor to attend a vertical tasting of eight Ribolla Gialla wines back to 2000. The 1998 Breg is, to date, one of the best wines I have ever had. I have never had a bad or off wine from the line. They are consistently powerful, emotional and evocative of a time forgotten and of the richness of the Collio region. The price point is quite high, so they are best for very special occasions. The rise of amber wines was born with Josko Gravner’s vision.

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“Sicilian” Marani

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Vino di Anna Anna Martens gives her name to the wines which range from the simple (but delicious) Palmento to qvevri wine with the black grape Nerello Mascalese grape on Mt. Etna. Ms. Martens and partner Eric Nairoo of Les Caves de Pyrene work with as little intervention as possible, a big stretch from her former days making SuperTucans at Tenuta dell’Ornellaia in Tuscany. I had the chance to visit with my good friends and locals Brandon and Lidia. We took a slight detour from our already hectic #winelover schedule. Etna is already such a special region, with its autocthonus grapes and volcanic soil that is alive with mythology and, it seems, a touch of the Goddess Gaia herself. Etna is an active volcano and the terrain here can change in an instant. This is reflected in the wines and as my dear friend and wine producer Eko Glonti says, qvevri helps the grapes express the terroir better. These wines taste important. They are full of energy and heat, just like the place and I believe, the passion of the winemakers. The Qvevri Rosso is a great example of this philosophy.

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Albert Mathier et Fils The Valais is the wine world’s best kept secret. I joined a press trip in 2014 with twelve delegates from the Digital Wine Communications Conference and hosted by Wine Grapes own José Vouillamoz. Visually stunning and beautiful, the wines from the region consistently held up to a high standard of purity and quality unmatched by any place I have ever visited. We visited Mr. Mathier at the height of my Georgiaphila, so at the time, it was one of the most exciting stops in a trip in which we tasted wines of the highest caliber and rareness, I shudder at the memories, even today. There are two wines made in qvevri: Amphore Blanc and Amphore Noir. A white and a red. I enjoy both wines, but it was the amber hued Amphore Blanc, made with that really knocked my socks off. It was silky and warm, with elements of a crisp fall day in the glass. One of the purest and most well made qvevri wines I have had. It was a “happy” wine. Drinking it at the winery was joyous and a moment I will always keep close to my heart.

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Photo taken from Blue Danube website

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Kabaj French enologist Jean-Michel Morel, inspired by Josko Gravner, embraces the qvevri tradition with the Amfora which is blend of Rebula and Tocai Friulano (known locally as
Ravan). Years of experience as a winemaker from Bordeaux to Collio (Italy) is very evident in the wines. The qvevri wines are macerated in the qvevri for about a year. The wines are precise and clean, but show a beautiful mineral quality that expresses the territory perfectly. I first tried these wines when I was showing Georgian wines in San Diego in 2015, and I have been hooked ever since. Luckily they are easily available in the USA via the Blue Danube wine company.

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Photo from vignavitevino.ch

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Vodopivec Paolo Vodopivec makes extraordinarily structured, balanced and age worthy Vitovska in qvevri in the Carso region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. They are quite poetic wines that are enjoyable with or without food. The wines are a test of patience with six months of maceration in qvevri and then two years in Slavonion oak. The result is wines that are complex, defined and very fresh.

by Sarah May Grunwald 

Thanks for reading the Taste Georgia blog

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Why Georgia?

Why Georgia?

By Taste Georgia

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By Sarah May Grunwald

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Considering the long hiatus I’ve taken from blogging here, I had to ask for advice from a writers’ group I’m in. Projects, life, art, work… they’ve all gotten in the way of writing about Georgia, and distractions aside I find it difficult to write about Georgia anyway because Georgia is so familiar to me, I make the assumption that it is familiar for everyone else. Illogical. My colleagues, Meg Houston Maker, and Robbin Gheesling suggested coming back to my blog and addressing the most common questions people ask me about Georgia. I thought about a Top 20, but I didn’t think questions such as, “They make wine in Georgia?” or “You mean, Georgia, as in Joseph Stalin?” merited an answer here. I thought about it for some time and realized that the personal questions I receive are the most relevant, because I have received the same five in some form time and time again during the past 3 years.

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What brought you to Georgia in the first place?What brought you to Georgia in the first place?

The short answer is wine, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. My journey to Georgia started a couple of years before I ever step foot in the country, back in 2012. I was in a tasting group with four other Rome based sommeliers and we were becoming more and more interested in natural wine and emerging wine regions. I was a professor teaching wine at Instituto Lorenzo de Medici and one of my lectures was on the history of wine, which, of course spent significant amount of time on Georgia and the qvevri. By that time, I had only tasted Josko Gravner’s qvevri wine and started to become increasingly intrigued by the origin of wine.

One of my colleagues from the tasting group told us about the 2012 European Wine Blogger’s Conference in Izmir, Turkey which featured a press trip to Georgia. I eagerly signed up for the conference and tried to get on this trip, but unfortunately, I did not. Instead I ended up going to Cappadocia. We met fellow wine lovers and wine writers at the conference, which ended with a Grand Tasting of regional wines. The theme of the conference was “Source” and we tasted wines from the countries of Origin, including Turkish, Armenian, Georgian and Lebanese. I remember being captivated by the two Georgian wines we tasted. One was an “orange” and one was a red, both made in qvevri. I had completed my sommelier courses a few years prior and kept my palate up-to-date by joining tastings, having my own tasting group and attending trade shows. Those two Georgian wines, however, were not like any wines I’d had before. I thought to myself that I needed to develop a new wine vocabulary for such wines. I decided to make it a point to get to Georgia, and soon.

I made tentative plans with a friend that fell through for a variety of reasons. I was discouraged by other travelers’ tales of misogyny, sexism and food poisoning. By then my tasting group had evolved into a web portal on Rome’s food and drink scene. I was more comfortable as a writer.
In late 2013, I saw that the International Wine Tourism Conference would take place in Tbilisi, Georgia and they were accepting applications for the FAM trip and petitions for speakers. I sent in an application for the press trip, I was accepted and was also invited to speak at the conference. I was finally going to Georgia after two years of trying.
Within a few days in Georgia, I was completely seduced. It felt like falling in love. Really. And I have been dedicated to my beautiful Sakartvelo (Georgia) ever since.

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Why Georgia?

The simplest and yet most difficult question- I’ve heard this one asked in a few different tones ranging from “Why the F**K Georgia?” to, “Georgia, wow, why?” On a spiritual level, coming to Georgia feels like a homecoming. I feel it is my spiritual homeland. The country and its people embraced me, including or in spite of my idiosyncrasies. I am a foreigner here and yet I feel like I make sense. When I came to Georgia the first time I was a really broken person on a lot of levels. I was in mourning, I’d lost faith in collaborative work, and the wine trade had become somewhat stale to me. Then I met Georgia, its songs, its pain and suffering, its joy, its tables, and its wine. Coming here reminded me of the first time I wore glasses. I was 30. For my entire life, I felt everything was out of reach, because it literally appeared that way. I saw the world in a sort of haze. When I had my glasses fitted and walked out the store I saw a tree, but I mean, I really saw this tree. It wasn’t just a brown trunk and green foliage, it had texture, shades of brown and green I’d never thought possible. I cried. I’d been missing so much in my denial of my eye problems. So it was with Georgia. From bland to technicolour. That was my spiritual journey.
As a wine professional with a decade of experience in in the food, wine and travel industry, it was immediately obvious that I needed to have a business here. I wanted to stay in touch. Within a week of being in Georgia I’d experienced the best hospitality I had ever experienced anywhere. From large factory wineries, small producers, hotels and restaurants and coffee shops, I felt welcome. In Georgia they say that a guest is a gift from God. This doesn’t mean the guest is treated as a god, only that a guest is honoured. I realized that Georgia had a system of hospitality built into the culture. Hospitality is tradition and I believe one of Georgia’s greatest assets. Founding Taste Georgia came naturally to me. I found people to work with, Irakli Cholobargia and Natia Khindasheli, two of the best people I have ever met in my life, Taste Georgia was born in July 2014, we had a website by January 2015 and at the end of that same month, we were already featured in the New York Times 52 Places to Visit in 2015.

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What are the challenges of working in Georgia?

Creating a business in Georgia was a breeze. It is one of the easiest countries in the world to open a business in. I think in total, registering my company, opening a bank account and getting our VAT number took a total of 45 minutes. From that point of view, it has not been difficult.
However, there are challenges. There are still a LOT of infrastructure problems. Tbilisi is a very polluted city and the country itself is still identified as an Ex-Soviet country, and at a certain age demographic, there is a mentality my friend Daniel Khasidy coined as Soviet Stockholm Syndrome. These are challenges, which as a Westerner doing business here, I’m still learning to adjust to. Things can run at glacial speed, and even though everything seems to work out, when I am approaching deadlines, I have a high level of anxiety when it seems to roll off the backs of people around me.
The biggest challenge is Georgia itself. I have created a wine and food travel business in a country that has only recently been getting recognition as a travel destination for people from non-ex-Soviet countries within the past decade or so. Though I enjoy being a part of the education process as a writer and business owner and through wine education, it does create a lot of work for me that my business in Rome never did. Part of my job is to be a proselytizer of Georgia, Georgian wine and Georgian food. My profession by trade is wine education, and I find that the culture of wine in Georgia, and Georgian wine itself, are great ambassadors to the country. I have always believed that we meet culture and tradition at the table.
We don’t have a lot of competition right now. Georgia just hosted the first UN WTO Conference on Wine Tourism which we attended, and Georgia is predicted to be in the top 10 world destinations by the year 2020. I really enjoy being a part of this. I enjoy using social media as a platform for visibility and I also appreciate greatly having guests who feature us and Georgia in their articles. To date we have been featured in The New York TimesNPRLonely PlanetNational Geographic Travel and dozens of food, wine and travel blogs.

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What is your favourite Georgian wine?

This is a loaded question, and never asked by a wine lover. My gut response is to say, “It depends on what I am eating.”
I tend towards the wines of Imereti over Kakheti, though there are a few exceptions. I think this is because my palate is calibrated to Italian wines and the concept of wine and food always being together, so I like fresher wines with more food pairing options. Right now, based on the last two and a half years of tasting hundreds of Georgian wines, my favourite producers are Lagvinari, Gotsa Family Wines, Iago’s Wine, Mandili, Nika Bakhia and Ramaz Nikoladze.
The wine that seduced me was a 2013 Lagvinari Tsolikouri. Now a “unicorn” wine. I’ve written extensively about its maker, Eko Glonti. That wine felt like I was dancing with Baryshnikov when I’d been square dancing with hillbillies my entire life.
Right now, the wines that are exciting me the most are the 2015 wines from my friend Beka Gotsadze of Gotsa Family Wines. He is doing incredible work in the vineyard and cellar and his Pét Nats are just brilliant.

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What are Georgia’s treasures?

I can carry on for days about the Caucasus Mountains, the 8000 years of unbroken wine culture, the qvevri and how wine is so intrinsically linked to the Georgian identity. Or perhaps I could write about the national Poem, A Knight in Panther’s Skin, which ripped my heart out and taught me the true meaning of friendship and love (and it is essential reading if you ever want to understand Georgia). Of course there is that unique language with its beautiful script, spoken only by Georgians and not related to any other language. Maybe the layers and layers of history, the Golden Fleece, Medea, the Argonauts, Queen Tamar. There are so many cultural and natural treasures in Georgia, but if I can be honest, the greatest treasure of Georgia is the Georgian people. I love them.

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Georgian Wine Day

Georgian Wine Day

By Taste Georgia

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October 1st marks the beginning of one of the most important months in the Republic of Georgia. In Georgian, October is Ghvinobistve which means “month of wine.” It’s during this month that harvest is at its height, and the countryside is full of people picking grapes and enjoying the meals and parties that go along with harvest.  The harvest festival is called Rtveli which is a traditional harvest festival with all the works; feasts (supra), music and dance.  October is a month of celebration and this year the festivities commence with Georgian Wine Day on October 4th, 2015. The events in the Republic of Georgia are organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Wine Agency and will include events throughout the country and in Tbilisi.

If you aren’t in Georgia, you can still take part on Sunday.  Open those special bottle of Georgian wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion and lets us know about it via social media with the tag #GeorgianWineDay. I will be using Storify to save and share posts with this hashtag.

If you aren’t convinced that October 4th is a special enough day to open those bottles you are hoarding, remember that we are celebrating the birthplace of wine, more than 8000 vintages and a continuation of the oldest wine culture in the world.  I think its worth a bottle or two to pay homage to Georgia and our beloved ghvino.

Remember wine is a celebration of life, its a connection of people, to history and above all to the earth.

Gaurmajos!

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Adjika Will Bring World Peace: Apricot Adjika Jam

Adjika Will Bring World Peace: Apricot Adjika Jam

By Taste Georgia

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Vendor at the market in Tbilisi who sells decent adjika paste. Whenever friends ask me why I fell in love with Georgia, my natural and unscripted response is, “It felt like coming home.” I am not Georgian, I don’t have any familial ties to the country and I don’t speak the language but I still find so many aspects of Georgian culture vaguely familiar to me. This love affair started the first morning of my first trip to Georgia in March 2014. I organized a visit to the Market in Tbilisi, and I was hooked. Of course I had never eaten a churchkela or pickled flowers before, but I sensed an immediate connection that’s brought me back six times in the past year. It may seem like an odd fit. I am a southern California girl who lives in the Roman countryside. I had no personal interest in Georgia beyond its wine before I visited. Most of my fellow Georgiaphiles came to Georgia in some round about way through Russia.

Maybe they had an interest in the Russian empire, the Russian language or the Soviet Union. I certainly don’t speak Russian and never studied anything about the Russian Empire or the USSR except what was required in my humanities classes. I came for the wine initially, but the flavors and personalities of the Georgian table brought me to a familiar place of aromas, textures and spices.

As a San Diegan, I grew up in the Cold War 70s and 80s on a pretty typical Anglo Saxon diet of processed food made by my Australian mom. We had diversity, but it came from a seasoning packets. I don’t have a romantic food story. I grew up working class and my parents worked 14 to 16 hours a day. Fast food and packaged food were normal and convenient for my working mom. I was the typical latch key kid of the 80s. I made boxed mac & cheese for myself. Though we did have a typical American diet of processed food, it was supplemented by fresh garden vegetables (from my dad), tropical fruit (my mom’s homage to her tropical homeland), copious amounts of Mexican food at friends’ homes and midnight taco runs or casual dining in Old Town. San Diego is not a WASP enclave. It’s a border city and the food scene reflects that. For me, this meant at a young age I was already quite familiar with the difference between salsa verde and salsa fresca, I knew the taste of fresh cilantro, the texture of corn husks for tamales and the mouth feel of coarsely ground corn meal. I could identify many different types of red, green, yellow and orange hot peppers and knew their hotness scale. It was a combination of textures and ingredients that were vaguely familiar to me in Georgia. Mexican and Georgian cuisines are diverse and vary according to region and seasonality. Both rely heavily on aromatic herbs and spices, beans, corn meal, and spicy and sour sauces to compliment the meals.

When I was a kid I felt different than most of my classmates- my parents were foreigners with weird accents and I ate strange food (hello Vegemite sandwiches), so I always seemed to seek out the other odd kids. Those of us with funny parents always seemed to find each other. In first grade my best friend was Rosa, a first generation girl whose parents were from Mexico. In 5th grade my best friend was Lorelei whose mom was from Belgium. We were the ones with the funny lunches. We sat together. These relationships inevitably exposed me to a new world of flavors and textures I would have never had otherwise. Pico de Gallo is often refereed as a fresh salsa, but in some parts of Mexico it refers to a fruit salad with dried hot chilies, lime juice, aromatic herbs and salt. I first had dried pico de gallo rub at my friend Rosa’s house. I often ended up at her house after school, which meant I tasted the deliciously exotic-to-me food her mom gave us. Cold papaya with a squeeze of lime sprinkled with dry pico de gallo… an explosion of heat and flavors. First cool fruit, then the red pepper would hit the front and back of the tongue and the heart would start to race, then this was followed by sour and salty sweetness from the juicy fruit. To this day, I prefer a fruit salad with salt and chili peppers.

When I was a kid I felt different than most of my classmates- my parents were foreigners with weird accents and I ate strange food (hello Vegemite sandwiches), so I always seemed to seek out the other odd kids. Those of us with funny parents always seemed to find each other. In first grade my best friend was Rosa, a first generation girl whose parents were from Mexico. In 5th grade my best friend was Lorelei whose mom was from Belgium. We were the ones with the funny lunches. We sat together. These relationships inevitably exposed me to a new world of flavors and textures I would have never had otherwise. Pico de Gallo is often refereed as a fresh salsa, but in some parts of Mexico it refers to a fruit salad with dried hot chilies, lime juice, aromatic herbs and salt. I first had dried pico de gallo rub at my friend Rosa’s house. I often ended up at her house after school, which meant I tasted the deliciously exotic-to-me food her mom gave us. Cold papaya with a squeeze of lime sprinkled with dry pico de gallo… an explosion of heat and flavors. First cool fruit, then the red pepper would hit the front and back of the tongue and the heart would start to race, then this was followed by sour and salty sweetness from the juicy fruit. To this day, I prefer a fruit salad with salt and chili peppers.

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Apriots and Adjika

This combination of sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors with spicy aromas is the element of Georgian food I adore most. It brings me to a familiar place, to my childhood, a place only the table can evoke. It is this sense of familiarity between the Mexican and Georgian kitchen and my love of ripe fruit and pico de gallo that gave birth to this Adjika Apricot Jam. It was inspired by my friend Sarah Freeman who traveled with me to Georgia in May. She told me she was going to make a peach pie with adjika paste. A light went off in my head: Peach and Adjika Chutney? Adjika and fruit? It sounded perfect and brought me back to my love of fruit and spice, and this idea I have had for awhile: that a Georgian Mexican fusion kitchen would work perfectly. When I came home I immediately sprinkled some adjika on freshly harvest apricots from my tree. Perfect. Ideas spinning in my head finally brought me back to Mexican fruit salad and Indian chutney.

Georgian food is ultimately a fusion kitchen with influences from all over Eurasia. This is why many people will refer to international kitchens when they first encounter Georgian food. I have always said the Georgian kitchen is a kitchen of ingredients you already know with different combinations of flavors making it completely unique. Which brings me to my Adjika Apricot Jam. Something new but familiar.

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Apricots fresh from the tree

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I have an enormous apricot tree that is sagging with ripe apricots at the moment, and I am just back from Georgia with a cupboard full of various spices and herbs including four versions of adjika. Upon research, I have come to learn that it originated in the break away region of Abkhazia, and is considered particularly good in the Georgian region of Megrelia. There are as many versions of adjika as there are grandmas. My friend Anastasia is now producing and marketing adjika salts in Sweden and England. They range in style from thick paste, sauce to dry “rub” and in color from bright green and red to a brownish green and orange toned red. The most common ingredients are hot chillies, garlic, dried marigold, barberry, summer savory, and coriander. Some call for all or some ingredients and other ingredients not listed. I love Anastasia’s adjika salt and it has become a staple in my kitchen, but I didn’t want to use a salted version, so I decided to use a dry red adjika I bought in the ancient city of Mtskheta.

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My apricot adjika jam

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I used one kilo of apricots from my tree and followed this apricot jam recipe. To this recipe I added :3 heaping tablespoons of adjika I cracked the kernels of 4 apricots and added them to the jars. I would use any recipe for apricot jam you like and add the adjika to taste. I really love David Lebowitz recipe, though I would not add the lemon juice. Familiar, and still Georgian using my own fruit.

COPYRIGHT: NO PART OF THIS POST; TEXT OR PHOTOS CAN BE REPRODUCED OR USED WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR.If you are interested in food tours and travel in Georgia, contact us.

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Rare Georgian Wines at the 2015 New Wine Festival in Tbilisi

Rare Georgian Wines at the 2015 New Wine Festival in Tbilisi

By Taste Georgia

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“Other Varieties”

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I attended the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Tbilisi New Wine Festival on the 8th of May as a guest of the Georgian Wine Club. The stunning views over the city from the hosting Funicular Restaurant were certainly magnificent, a perfect choice to open this now annual event. This year’s theme was “Other Varieties” and included a tasting led by Malkhaz Kharbedia of the

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Gorgeous view of Tbilisi from the Funicular restaurant

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Malkhaz explained that the 2015 edition was dedicated to rare wine and rare varieties, and that the idea behind the fair was to hold an event that was both hedonistic and educational. The Wine Club, in collaboration with the Georgian National Wine Agency, has plans to organize a wine library of Georgian grape varieties and wines. During the Soviet period in Georgia, only 16 types of wines were allowed to be made commercially and they all were numbered 1-16. Wine making was part of a scheme of collectivism, as was all agriculture during this period. Though families were allowed to make their own wines for home use, traditional wine making certainly suffered during this period, and the 500+ varieties were not appreciated and almost disappeared except for a few heroes in small pockets who saved them. You see, in Georgia, wine is more than a beverage; wine is culture, history and part of the Georgian identity. The heroes of Georgian wine are those who promote oenodiversity, traditional wine making. Events such as The New Wine Festival help Georgians reconnect to this collective heritage, and foreigners, like myself, are introduced to new wines and vigneronswe might not have otherwise heard. The fair brings together the larger commercial producers, the family wine makers and the qvevri wine makers to one park with the support of various agencies. It is a matter of national pride as well as an occasion to impress tourists at a really fun filled event.

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During the tasting at the opening ceremony, we tasted 10 wines made from rare Georgian grape varieties. Six of the 10 were produced in qvevri. Most were well made, two were absolutely gorgeous and two were nearly undrinkable.

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Whites

Kisi (grape)

Lukasi (producer)
Kakheti (region)
2014 (vintage)
Lovely clear lemon yellow. Citrus, honey and steel on the nose. Tastes of citrus, very fresh with a long finish. Very well balanced. A well made wine that can age for a couple of years.

Chkhaveri

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Iberieli
Guria
2011
This was my favorite white wine of the evening. This wine is made by Zurab Topuridze , who makes wine in Guria. I was surprised this was a 2011 because it was so fresh. Clear medium golden color. Aromas of orange zest, apricot, stone fruit, sweet spices. Taste is round and fresh, very well balanced with a long finish. This was evolved particularly well in the glass and on the palate. I kept going back to it.

Chekobali

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Jigaura
Samegrelo
2013
Clear lemon color. Very tropical aromas that reminded me of an Alsace Pinot Gris. Dry as a bone, fresh, medium finish.  It was strong on the front of the palate, but strength quickly dissipated in the mouth, not a lot of body or steam in the wine.

Chkapa (qvevri)

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Giorgi Barisashvili’s Marani
Kartli
2013
Lovely, clear amber colo0r.  Aromas of vanilla, dried summer fruits (figs, apricots), truffles, dairy, cheese, floral perfume.  Medium acidity, warm on the palate, medium body.  Well balanced, medium finish.

Khikhvi (qvevri)

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Satsnakheli
Kakheti
2014
Light, clear amber color. Smells of apples, earth and cider. Fresh and tannic with a rich full body.  Medium finish. Not particularly noteworthy.
Reds

Rosé Rkatsiteli (qvevri)

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Pheasant’s Tears
Kakheti
2013
The smell of horses/barnyard was overwhelming in this wine and made it almost impossible to evaluate. The color was a lovely salmon pink. Taste was fresh but there was a high amount of residual sugar. Strong on the attack phase but little evolution on the palate.

Jgia (qvevri)

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Tsikhelishvili’s Marani
Kakheti
2013
I was so excited about this wine and grape that I sent a Tweet to José Vouillamoz of Wine Grapes to confirm that I had found one not in his wine grape encyclopedia. It was the forth I have found that is made commercially. This wine was my favorite wine of the event and not just for the novelty of being rare.  It was a fantastic and well made wine. Beautiful clear ruby red. Aromas of forest berries, cedar, tobacco, cherries, balsamic notes. Very complex nose. Taste was fresh with juicy tannins, full body and long finish. Well balanced and just delicious, a wine for meditation.

Tavkveri (qvevri)

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Pheasant’s Tears
Mukhrani
2013
Youth purple red color. Aromas of berries and dark soil masked by reduction aromas. Undrinkable.

Simonaseuli

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Jigaura
Kakheti
2013

I was intrigued to learn that this variety was quite popular before the 20th century. Beautiful ruby red color. Aromas of wild berries, green notes that made me think it was fermented with stems, and a hint of strawberries. Fresh, full-bodied, smooth tannins, wild berries on the palate, with a long finish. A well made and well balanced wine.The grapes were late harvest. Lovely ripe berries, a bit jammy even. Meat or animal aromas, wool followed by minerality. It was quite fresh, soft tannins, ripe berries, and a medium finish. A good and well structured wine.

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Special Tasting with Eko Glonti of Lagvinari in Rome

Special Tasting with Eko Glonti of Lagvinari in Rome

By Taste Georgia

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SOLD OUT!!

On Thursday, February 5 at 19:30 Beppe e i suoi formaggi will host producer Georgian wine producer Eko Glonti as he will personally present seven natural wines from Lagvinari, the company he founded in Kakheti. Eko Glonti, Gurian Renaissance man, doctor, geologist and vigneron makes some of the most exquiste wines in Georgia. His Tsolikouri is one of the best wines I have ever tasted. You can also find him featured in Isabelle Legeron’s film on Georgian wine.Georgia is one of the oldest centers of cultivation of the vine, as well as the country with the highest ampelographical diversity and thus the country with the highest amount of different grape varieties in the world. During the tasting Eko Glonti will discuss the production of his exquisite wines and also illustrate the technique of Georgian wine production in “qvevri” (amphorae), the oldest wine vessel int he world traced back to 6,000 BCE. Discover the birthplace of wine, Georgia, which boasts 8,000 years of uninterrupted wine making tradition. We will (re)discover the wines of ancient Georgia (Colchis) even in Homer’s Odyssey and in the Argonauts of Apollonius of Rhodes.We will have the event in both English and Italian. Dr. Glonti will guide us thorugh a tasting of the following seven wines: Tsolikouri-A golden yellow wine made in qvevri with 45 days of skin contact. Aromas of plums, stone fruit and apples as well as honeyed notes. Taste is fresh and highly acidic, which is typical of the grape. Long nutty finish, tastes of hazelnuts.Tsitska-Straw colored wine with aromas of citrus, pear and vegetation as well as honey aromas and melon. It is very lively and fresh. Produced in qvevri. Krakhuna-Amber in color, fermented and aged in qvevri, plums, peaches, honey and dates as well as hazelnut and cake. It is very lively and complex on the palate with nutty flavors that end with a touch of honey flavor. Goruli Mtsvane-Amber/copper in color, nutty aromas, herbal notes, peach tea, stone fruit, Very pleasant taste that is fresh but with rather structured tannins. Aladusturi-Pale cherry color. Aladusturi is a thin skinned grape Sour cherries, herbal notes, and sweet spices as well as berries. It is a rather elegant wine with a long cherry finish. Otskhanuri Sapere-Beetroot red in color. Very aromatic and sharp aromas of berries, with wild and green notes as well. as well as balsamic notes. It is a highly acidic wine that should be aged for a number of years. Evolves in the glass and in the bottle Saperavi-The only non qvevri wine of the line, Saperavi is a thick skin grape that means Dye. It is thick skinned and one of the few grapes on earth that also has pigment in the pulp. This creates extremely inky and deeply colored wines. Ripe cherries, wild berries, tobacco aromas, wild green notes, red currents, bitter walnuts. It is extremely complex n the nose and in the palate. It is very structured with juicy tannins and a fresh, long berry finish. Seven Georgian Wines Lagvinari: Tsitska – Tsolikouri – Goruli Mtsvane – Krkahuna – Aladusturi – Otskhanuri Knowing – Saperavi

For information on the tasting call 06 68192210 RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED!! PLEASE CALL!! The event is supported by the National Wine Agency, Georgia. For more information about Georgian wines: www.facebook.com/tastegeorgiawineand www.tastegeorgia.co

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Impossible Valais with José Vouillamoz

Impossible Valais with José Vouillamoz

By Taste Georgia

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Have you ever been to an event, where you had no idea why you were there, or why you were invited? One where you look around at the people and the atmosphere, and you think to yourself, “I am out of my league here.” This happened to me a few weeks ago. It was one of the most unique and riveting tastings of my wine career, with people I liked and admired, that was led and organized by one of the world’s leading ampelologists and wine sleuths; the highly celebrated co-author of Wine Grapes, José Vouillamoz. He called it Impossible Valais  and said it was the most exciting tasting he had ever organized. Whether I was worthy, I’m still unsure, but I was an interested student ready to soak up any and all information to the best of my ability. José Vouillamoz is the ultimate wine geek, in the best sense of the term. A botanist trained in grape genetics, he is a champion of rare grape

varieties, and willing to get his hands dirty in order to recover them Have you ever been to an event, where you had no idea why you were there, or why you were invited? One where you look around at the people and the atmosphere, and you think to yourself, “I am out of my league here.” This happened to me a few weeks ago. It was one of the most unique and riveting tastings of my wine career, with people I liked and admired, that was led and organized by one of the world’s leading ampelologists and wine sleuths; the highly celebrated co-author of Wine Grapes, José Vouillamoz. He called it Impossible Valais  and said it was the most exciting tasting he had ever organized. Whether I was worthy, I’m still unsure, but I was an interested student ready to soak up any and all information to the best of my ability. José Vouillamoz is the ultimate wine geek, in the best sense of the term. A botanist trained in grape genetics, he is a champion of rare grape varieties, and willing to get his hands dirty in order to recover them

He’s true to his craft, he’s a scientist, and his opinions are backed up by inarguable facts, but he’s also hilarious and is never short on great one-liners. With a witty tongue quicker than John Wayne’s trigger finger, he’s a breath of fresh air in the frequently stuffy and rigid wine community. When you are with him in a social setting, or at a tasting, you wish you’d brought an audio recorder to capture all his José-isms, (my term, I want to write a book based on these). We need him. The world’s best wine professionals descended on Montreux for the DWCC for a weekend of learning, and we can thank José Vouillamoz and his mission to put Swiss Wines on the map for schooling us all in their virtue and rarity. Thanks to José many of us look at Swiss wine through a new lens. 12 lucky participants had the opportunity to travel through his motherland for three days with him, tasting some of the best and rarest wines of Switzerland, beginning with the Impossible Valais tasting at Sensorama at Châteaude Villa in Sierre.

Though we’d all had ample opportunity to taste a multitude of Swiss wines over the weekend, I don’t believe any of us were emotionally prepared for the once-in-a-lifetime tasting that José called Impossible Valais.He explained that “impossible” referred to the rarity of the wines we’d taste. The wines bordered on the sublime, ranging from rare and “archaeological” grapes to the truly perfect 1971 Petite Arvine. Le Valais produces some of the most incredible wines I have ever tasted, but before the conference in Montreux and this trip, the only Swiss wine I ever had was young Fendant. I have since learned that Fendant/Chasselas should be considered a very serious wine. Yet, it is virtually impossible to find these gems outside of Switzerland. They export only 2% of the wines they produce and produce 0.2% of the world’s wine so it is no surprise that many people have no idea that Swiss wine even exists. The standing joke is that they export so little of their wine because it is so good that they (the Swiss) drink them all before the rest of the world has a chance.

I never knew that there was so much diversity, that white Swiss wines can age, and well. There is certainly nothing more educational than guided tastings and full immersion in a wine region. Now, after seeing the heroic vineyards and tasting the wines crafted by generous people, I am converted. Swiss wines verge on the magical, they are spirited and convey the essence of the land and people. Well crafted and generous. I hope that we will see more of these wines in the international market, without compromising their spirit. The wines we tasted at the Impossible Valais tasting were thoughtful, rare and the beginning of a very emotional wine love story.

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Wine: Arvine
Producer: Provins
Grape: Petite Arvine
Vintage: 1971
Notes: Exquisite wine that was everything about autumn poured into a glass. Marmalade, leaves, chestnuts, pumpkins, citrus along with figs, dates, quince and fermenting cheese. This was an extremely complex bouquet that I wanted to come back to. Despite its 43 years of age it was fresh and well balanced with the acid matched with an oily texture.

THE WINES

Wine: Plantscher
Producer: Chanton Kellerei
Grape: Gros Bourgogne
Vintage: 2007
Notes: Gros Bourgogne is indeed a rare grape, there are only .05 ha and only one producer, Chanton, who are at the center of rare grape preservation in Valais. Lovely golden yellow color with notes of apples, apricots, honey and chamomile. Fresh, dry and with a silky texture.

Wine: Amigne
Producer: Provins
Grape: Amigne
Vintage: 1967
Notes: Amigne is an grape from the Valais, there are 42 ha in the world and they are mostly near the town of Vétroz. I have to admit that I fell in love with this grape over the course of the conference and then this tasting. I find it quite exotic even when young. The 1967 was very pleasant and reminded me of distant lands. Candied fruit, Turkish delight, rose water, oranges, chestnuts and dates. It was pleasantly dry despite such sweet notes.

Wine: Amigne
Producer: Provins
Grape: Amigne
Vintage: 1967
Notes: Amigne is an grape from the Valais, there are 42 ha in the world and they are mostly near the town of Vétroz. I have to admit that I fell in love with this grape over the course of the conference and then this tasting. I find it quite exotic even when young. The 1967 was very pleasant and reminded me of distant lands. Candied fruit, Turkish delight, rose water, oranges, chestnuts and dates. It was pleasantly dry despite such sweet notes.

Wine: Johannisberg St-Théodule
Producer: Orsat
Grape: Silvaner
Vintage: 1955
Notes: 1955 is considered the vintage of the century in Switzerland. Orange peel, lilies, honey and baby powder. Extremely fresh and vibrant with long persistent citrus taste.

Wine: Rouge de Pays
Producer: Stéfano Délitroz
Grape: Rouge de Pays
Vintage: 2011
Notes: This is made from grapes from 80-year-old ungrafted vines that are erroneously called Cornalin in Switzerland. It was very “meaty” with a hint of chinotto, with lots of briny notes, like olives, which was reflected on the palate along with red berries. Rich tannins and full body with a persistent finish. A well balanced and meaty wine. I would like to taste it in about 10 years.

Wine: Côte Rotie La Torque
Producer: Guigal
Grape: Syrah
Vintage: 2001
Notes: We tasted two Syrahs blindly, one French and one Swiss All we knew going it was that one was French and one was Swiss. This one was more impressive for me but I think it was context. We had just tasted some serious wines, and I think my palate was much more responsive to this richer tasting wine at the time. Rich nose of berries, fennel pollen, licorice, wet stones, balsamic notes and pepper. On the palate it was juicy with really immense tannins. Very enjoyable wine.

Wine: Vieilles Vignes Syrah
Producer: Simon Maye & Fils
Grape: Syrah
Vintage: 2001
Notes: I think my nose and palate deceived me because my tasting notes are quite sparse after the first syrah. It had green notes, berries. It has less tannic than the first and I think suffered from reduction. Perhaps over the course of a few hours it would show better. I quite enjoyed tasting Syrah at the winery and in fact tasted the best Syrah I have ever tasted there.

Wine: Crystal Eyholzer Roter Eiswein
Producer: Chanton Kellerei
Grape: Eyholzer Roter
Vintage: 2008
Notes: One of the most unique wines I have ever tasted. Made from the Eyholzer Roter wine grape, an extremely rare grape with a unique DNA profile. Only .25 ha of it are produced by one producer. According to Wine Grapes, “ One ancient vine 150-250 years old, has been found near Visp, in the town of Stalden, and an even older one in the middle of the town of Sion, some 50 km from Visp.” Magnificent amber colour. Wild strawberries, freshly burnt sugar cane fields and molasses on the nose. Tastes confirms the nose. Strawberries, crème brûlée, opulent and sweet balanced by racy acidity that lingers. Long and intense finish. A superb wine.

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Int’l Wine Tourism Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia

[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Magical Tbilisi”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”8″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”At the end of March 2014, I participated in the International Wine Tourism Conference that took place in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. I spoke about wine tourism in Lazio and also participated in a panel on Social Media with fantastic colleagues. The highlight of the conference was the opportunity to participate in a familiarization media trip organized by the National Wine Agency in Georgia. The program began two days before the conference and included a post conference visit to the Kakheti wine region. The program took us to a variety of wineries ranging from a Soviet era factory specializing in sparkling wine, to tasting the gorgeous qvevri wines made by the Alaverdi monk and learning about their 1000+ year wine making heritage, and then having the honor of joining the Sullivans as they opened their qvevri at the Twin’s WineCellar in Kakheti.A number of my fellow participants have written excellent articles about the trip and conference that offer the reader more in depth notes. Check out Vines and Designs, My Custard Pie, Just the Bottle and the most moving piece by Allison Markin about finding her Georgian family. Conferences like this have a lot to offer those of us in wine tourism, we can learn from our peers, get to know an otherwise unknown region to us and of course the networking opportunities alone are worth the ticket price. Being in the Republic of Georgia taught me a lot about one aspect of wine tourism that is often overlooked and that is the art of hospitality. Wine tourism should take the guest beyond the wine. I spoke about this briefly in the limited time I had for my presentation. Wine tour guests are not wine professionals for the most part. They are people on vacation that have an interest in wine and food. Our job is to highlight the local wine AND the region while making our guests feel comfortable and happy. Georgians have truly mastered the art of hospitality and I would advise anyone in the hospitality or service industry to visit Georgia to understand this. I was so impressed with Georgia I have returned since the conference, started a #DailyGeorgia post on my instagram feed and I have two upcoming trips planned. I will participate in this year’s harvest and see for myself the magic of qvevri wine making. I am looking forward to the next Interantional Wine Tourism Conference in Champagne, France!”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”80″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2228″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”photo by Sally Prosser (@mycustardpie”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2255″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”At the Tbilisi market”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2258″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”A local bar”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2257″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”My great friend and winelover Irakli”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2264″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Local politcal graffiti”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2263″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Mako and Eko pouring Italian wine into a vessel from 1600 BC”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2267″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Eko’s Tsolikouri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2266″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Street art in Tbilisi”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2271″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Our guide Dushenko”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2272″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Me with the Caucasus in the background”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2275″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Gorgeous”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2274″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Sinaghi in Kakheti”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2276″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Georgian cats are just as grumpy as cats elsewhere on earth”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2277″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Turkish coffee with Daniel”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2279″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Vineyards and mountains”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2280″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Signs of vines EVERYWHERE”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2282″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Freshly foraged wild greens”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2281″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Puri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2285″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Opening a qvevri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2284″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Qvevri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2287″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Alaverdi”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2286″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Texas”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2289″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”At Twin’s Wine Cellar”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2288″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Qvevri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2291″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Qvevri”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2292″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Oh the Caucasus must be the most beautiful mountain range on earth”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2296″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Tbilisi Sulfur Baths”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2295″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”IWINETC panel on Social Media”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2300″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”At Eko Glonti’s house”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2299″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Georgian wine makes one do silly things”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2304″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”With new friends”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2301″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”At Vino Underground in Tbilisi”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2307″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”My partners in crime”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2306″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Les Vignerons”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2307″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”My partners in crime”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2306″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Les Vignerons”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″ nd_options_image=”2310″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Beautiful people”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”45″]
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Churchkhela, Puri and Mzhave Niori at the Tbilisi Market

[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Tbilisi Food Market”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”I’ll admit that the primary reason I decided to join the International Wine Tourism Conference in Tbilisi,Georgia was for the location. For a few years now, I had been wanting to discover for myself the rich wine and culinary culture of Georgia. I narrowly missed the DWCC post-conference trip from Izmir in 2012, and had had tentative plans to visit in 2013, but life got in the way and it just never happened. In the interim, I studied the food and wine of Georgia and planned itineraries in my head. Travel information was scarce and mostly related to mountains and hiking, and the guidebooks tended towards pathetic regarding food and wine information. So, when I saw the announcement that the 2014 IWINETC conference would be held in Georgia and they were looking for bloggers and speakers, I jumped at the opportunity. My speech was accepted and I managed to join the pre- and post-conference media trip as well. I was very excited to join fellow food and wine lovers in the birthplace of wine. When I received the tour itinerary I was slightly disheartened to see that a visit to the Tbilisi market I had been reading, studying and dreaming about was not included on the schedule. But that would not deter me. I had a few hours of free time so I decided I would go on my own…even though I had yet to fully understand the concept of Georgian hospitality. When you read in guide books that Georgians believe, “A guest is a gift from God,” it is not lip service. From taxi drivers to invitations to homes, I was almost embarrassed by the level of hospitality in Georgia-knowing that I could never reciprocate in the same way. A week before the trip, I posted on the Wine and Culinary Tourism page on Facebook that I was looking for a guide and almost as soon as I posted, I got a reply that a guide would be waiting in the lobby at 10:30 am on the day of my arrival. I invited my fellow FAM trippers and the lovely guide Mariam met us in the lobby, threw us in cab and gave us our first view of the city. Of course, that view was seen while swerving in and out of the congested Tbilisi traffic until we arrived at the market about 10 minutes later.”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”50″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2213″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Churchkhela at the Tbilisi MarketAt this point I am sure I will start to sound like a living foodie cliché, so forgive me. The Tbilisi market needs to be included in any visitor’s itinerary. It was an explosion of colors, flavors and aromas. Before going I was mostly curious about the walnuts, fruits, pickles and Churchchela,strings of nuts dipped in grape concentrate, otherwise known as “Georgian candy.” The vendors were gracious and kindly let us sample their products. They were more than happy to explain the use of various seasons and spices such as the marigold and fenugreek powder, plum sauces and garlic salt. It was a sensory overload.”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2214″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Spice vendor explaining how to use the marigold and fenugreek powderMy favorite “discovery” was learning that like Italians, Georgians have a long-standing tradition and passion for wild food ranging from foraged edible weeds, wild thyme (so good!), mushrooms and fermented or pickled foods. I tasted fermented cabbage, whole fermented garlic (Mzhave Niori), fermented wild greens and wild leeks. As an advocate for home fermentation, I was overwhelmed by the range of pickled goods available. There was so much variety; anything edible was pickled. I bought fermented garlic and the strong aroma followed me all the way back home. Pickled vegetables were available at every meal we had during our trip and without paying too much attention to the health benefits, we unintentionally aided the digestion of some of the heavier Georgian foods. Fermented foods are true Super Foods. I am sure my travel mates got tired of me exclaiming, “Oh my god, I love pickles!” at every meal, but I couldn’t contain myself. I really, really love pickles. Good to know that they pair perfectly with the strong Chacha, a beverage similar to vodka that is made from the leftovers of the wine.”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2215″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Fermented products at the Tbilisi MarketPickles weren’t the only product that excited me. Churchkhela, the sausage shaped delicious strings of nuts that have been dipped in grape concentrate and flour were a delight. They were sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth but not cloyingly so. They’d be great on a hike instead of premixed trail mix. They were simple and delicious, and the one food product I wish I had bought more of. I also loved the wild honey that was sold in used pickled jars alongside different bee products such as pollen and propolis, as well as honeycomb. I took pollen every day while in Georgia as an immunity boost and—despite sleeping an average of three hours a night—I managed to stay energetic and healthy throughout the trip.”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2216″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Honey in used pickle jarsI not only sampled these products, also I learned about local baking techniques. The market had surprises around every corner. Mariam took us inside a small bakery where there were shelves of long pointed bread called puri and the delicious aroma of yeast and wood fire. The oven was not in the wall but in the earth in the form of a cylindrical clay tub that resembled a well. These ovens are called tone. After the dough has risen, been kneaded and been rolled, it is not put in a pan or on a shelf for baking. Instead, it is pressed up against the inner wall of the tone. I had never seen this baking process before and found it fascinating. It was yet another link that Georgian food and wine has to the earth and clay vessels.”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
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Gorgeous photo of Churchkhela and fruit by Sally Prosser (@mycustardpie)

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[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”The “tone” photo by Sally Prosser at www.mycustardpie.com”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”The aromas, colors and flavors are now imprinted on my heart and palate. I am so glad we visited the market before we started our trip. All of the food we tasted and all the meals we shared were made richer by the market experience. Understanding the food and the source of that food is an important part of traveling. At the Georgian table each meal is perfectly balanced between salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami. Visiting the market gave me a much better understanding of the Georgian kitchen and what we could expect over the next nine days. The Tbilisi Market is truly a can’t-miss for food lovers, people interested in a more authentic experience in Georgia, proponents of slow food, real food and people who want to eat like our ancestors. Markets are always great venues to experience of the bounty of the region, and this market is no exception. I learned that the Georgian food culture is real. It has not yet been corrupted by mass production and industrialization. I certainly hope that the Georgians take pride in this and protect it. These pockets of real food culture have almost disappeared in some places and are limited to the elite in others. Food is culture, and in Georgia the culture is rich. My next visit to Georgia will include an extra suitcase for more edible souvenirs. Check out my friend Sally Prosser’s blog post on the market here Thank you Sally, Rowena and Erin for letting me include some of your photos in the blog post!Check out their blogs/posts on Georgia!”][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”My Custard Pie-Sally Prosser Apron and Sneakers-Rowena Dumlao-Giardina Vines and Designs-Erin Korpisto For more on Georgian wine, check out posts by Sarah Abbot MW here and here”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”35″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2227″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Mzhave Niori (fermented garlic)”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2230″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”photo by Sally Prosser (@mycustardpie”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2231″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Me with some puri (bread) photo by Rowena Dumlao-Giardina (@ApronSneakers)”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2232″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Jars of raw honey”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2233″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Bee products”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2236″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Our lovely guide Mariam speaking with a Churchkhela vendor”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2235″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”The baker taking fresh puri out of the tone”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
[nd_options_image nd_options_image=”2240″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_350″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”5″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Our guide Mariam (second from right) patiently explaining everything to us. Photo by Erin Korpisto (@vinesanddesigns)”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”70″]
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Antiqua Tours in Tbilisi, Georgia

[nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Antiqua Tours in Tbilisi, Georgia”][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”By Taste Georgia”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_image nd_options_align=”center” nd_options_image=”2207″ nd_options_width=”100%” nd_options_class=”adaptive_image_550″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text_align=”center” nd_options_text=”Photo courtesy of Anthony Swift at Wine Pleasures”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”18″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”18″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”At the end of March, I will be speaking at the 6th Annual International Wine Tourism Conference which will be held in the beautiful city of Tbilisi, Georgia 29-30 March, 2014. I will be speaking about the culture of wine, wine as culture, and the people who make the wine integral to this very special culture. I hope to demonstrate to my audience how people in wine tourism can/should include the overall history and culture of a region as a selling point for their wine tours, especially in unknown or unfamiliar regions. Wine-loving clients have often already been to wineries and want to experience something unique. After a while something many of us experience is something I call, “barrel overload.” Yes, technical questions are important, but what makes a winery special is often its relevance in the culture or its history. Except for a few tweaks here and there, most wineries start to look and feel the same. So what can we do differently?I am going to discuss these points and hope to relay the information as a Socratic seminar rather than lecture about what I think people should do. I plan to talk specifically about the region I am passionate about: Lazio as a wine region. Lazio has a wealth of indigenous grape varieties, terroir, and an incredible number of traditions surrounding wine. My talk will integrate points about both the culture of wine and wine as culture with Lazio epitomizing a region overlooked for its incredible wine potential and wine heritage for the sake of a major city, Rome.I am also excited to meet colleagues and learn how I can improve our services for Antiqua Tours guests. After all, our guests are usually on holiday and at the end of the day, all they want is to experience fantastic wine, food, and culture. If you are attending the conference, please stop by my seminar. From the conference programme:”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″][nd_options_text nd_options_text_tag=”p” nd_options_text_weight=”normal” nd_options_text=”Wine as CultureAn overview of the importance of local cultural heritage in visiting a wine region. Case Study of Lazio. We will discuss why the humanities and people of a region as important to experiencing a wine region as the vines and wines themselves. People as Terroir (wine makers, local farmers, visiting nearby towns) and as an example we will talk about the Lazio wine region and getting visitors beyond Rome for a well rounded cultural experience which includes people, wine, food and cultural heritage. Why wine is not enough in wine tours. Learn why cultural heritage can sometimes sell wine regions, especially in unknown regions. And most importantly: Be a cultural ambassador to your region! March 29, Session 1.4 at 16:00 in Queen Tamar”][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”35″][nd_options_divider nd_options_align=”nd_options_text_align_left” nd_options_width=”30px” nd_options_height=”2px” nd_options_color=”#f1f1f1″][nd_options_spacer nd_options_height=”20″]