The traditional Qvevri winemaking method is up 8000 years old, is still in use and occupies a very special place in the history of Georgian wine; in 2013 it was awarded the status of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, which proves the uniqueness of this method and its special role for the Georgian culture.
“Georgia is the cradle of wine”– these words belong to a well-known British writer and publicist Hugh Johnson, the founder of “Vinopolis” in London, on July 23, 1999. There are numerous historic, archeological, ethnographical and literary sources to confirm his words.
The ancient origin of the relations between humans and the vines are well-documented as a result of various archaeological excavations, which unearthed Neolithic period vessels, vine fossil seeds, residue of tartaric acid in the fragments of the clay wine vessels, as well as, wild and indigenous species, unique wine vessel – qvevri and extant ancient technologies of making wine.
It is worth mentioning that the first cultural vine in the world was found in Georgia. In Kvemo Kartli, south of Tbilisi, on the Marneuli Valley, in the ruins of Gora settlement, the archaeologists discovered several vine seeds from B.C.era. According to morphological and ampelographic signs, it was attributed to the variety of vine called «VitisVinisfera Sativa».
The wine culture in Georgia has always had a ritualistic and a mystical purpose since the pagan period.
The written notes about wine are preserved in ancient Greek, Persian and Georgian sources.
Xenofonte (V B.C.) wrote that the wine made in Kolkheti was “aromatic and agreeable”.
Strabon (I B.C.): “Grapes were widespread in Iberia and the harvest was so large, that the population was not able to fully use it.”
Since the spread of Christianity, when wine was linked to the blood of the savior, vine and wine became even more sacred for Georgia. Thecross of St. Nino, who has brought Christianity to Georgia, was made from vine stems. Monasteries in Georgia have always made a lot of wine, and some old cellars are still preserved in some of them. Georgians considered wine to be sacred and often sacrificed wine to the martyrs. This kind of wine was called “Zedashe”.
“Shen khar venakhi” (you are the vine) – is the name of a gospel created about 1000 years ago and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s no coincidence that the author of the gospel, King of Georgia Demetre I, compares Virgin Mary to the vine: “you are the vine, newly flourished”… Vine and Georgia – is the connection that dates back to ancient times.
The wild vine “Vitis Vinifera Silrestris” is still widespread on the territory of Georgia. Since the 1980s, the forest vine has been included in the Red Book of Georgia as an object of the State protection. Apart from with the wild vine, Georgia has more than 500 Georgian vine varieties, including 430 that are preserved in the State and private collection vineyards.
Georgian wine has an enormous potential and pre-requisites to occupy one of the honorable places in the world wine market. This is possible due to the following factors: local unique breeds, traditional winemaking, which includes brewing and aging of wine in qvevri. This technology is unique and is not used in other countries, and finally, the status of the place of the origin of the wine.