Above: Vineyards of Schuchmann Wines in front of the Schuchmann Hotel in Telavi, Georgia

Favorite Wineries in Georgia, the Birthplace of Viticulture

The country of Georgia is probably the birthplace of wine. The most recent archaeological evidence suggests that 8,000 years ago, winemakers were already at work in a village 20 miles south of Tbilisi. Amazingly, the Neolithic pots in which scientists discovered the wine residue resemble qvevri (kway-vree), large, beeswax-lined clay vessels still used by many Georgian wineries to this day.

Over the millennia, numerous invading armies trampled vineyards and tore up vines, and within living memory, the Soviets suppressed traditional winemaking techniques in favor of factory-scale production. Yet the ancient traditions survive, giving Georgians (and anyone who drinks their wines) a tangible link to their deep history.

Most menus here will include wines fermented in qvevri, as well as those produced by the familiar method to which non-Georgians are accustomed. I recommend opting for the former at any opportunity, as these wines are Georgia’s most exciting and unusual. Even white wines produced in this manner tend to be startlingly tannic, ending on that dry, rasping note usually associated with big reds.

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