(Regina and Lee Steeneck have traveled on many of our tours. They were both on our recent tour starting in Armenia followed by Georgia. Regina volunteered to write a summary of the Armenia portion of the tour which we already published on our blog . The following is her summary of the Georgia portion, for which Vinny, Ana and I again thank her.)
We spent 4 days in Georgia. They are thinking of changing their name to not be confused with the state of Georgia.
The country is lovely with flat valleys and tree covered mountains. Higher Caucasus mountains are snow capped but snow is usually gone by mid June. The valleys have many grape vines and fruit trees. Three grapes dominate – white Mtsvana or
Rkatsiteli and red Saperavi.
The older wine making method of using qvevris (or Kvevri) prevales over the classic European style of stainless and oak. A distinct flavor results from qvevris (earthen containers similar to amphoras) They are buried in the ground, filled with the grape juice, covered with a stone and then sand, and left to develope into wine 6-18 months. The white is amber or golden. The red is dark and fruity. Riedel made a special glass to enhance the taste of Saperavi. The qvevri stay in the ground and are cleaned with a cherry twig brush – interesting.
The skins and seeds are also used to produce Cha Cha – a clear liquid with a firey taste like grappa or sake or vodka and served in small glasses.
Capital Tbilsi is a beautiful city with a combination of concrete Soviet era apartment buildings and very striking modern ones. All glass ones represent the desire to show open government with nothing to hide. It is a vibrant city with lots of cafes in the old center. We wish we had more time there.
We visited a number of wineries with delicious wines and beautiful cellar doors. We did not bring any home but plan to buy similar at home although Georgia wines have limited exports.
We had lunch or dinner in lovely locations. Typical foods were served in courses but they didn’t remove the plates – just kept adding more food to the table family style. Cheese of many types are always served. Lots of vegetables, BBQ pork w/o sauce, trout, grilled chicken, beef dumplings, fruit as dessert. Open pit oven baked bread. Delicious.
Although side by side and similar Soviet background, Armenia and Georgia are very different. They are the “cradle of wine making” from 6000+ years ago but Georgia is more prosperous. Much is attributed to the Armenian Genocide where the well to do and educated were killed in early 1900’s. Many Armenian also fled to Georgia. Both are Christian countries. They basically are located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and border Russia and Iran.
Again English is not wide spoken in Georgia but more Russian is heard because it is now a holiday destination for Russians.
Our weather was great the entire trip – cool mornings of 60 to highs of 70 and no humidity. Lilacs, Iris, Spirea were in bloom. There’s Magnolia, Cedar, blue spruce, and a few Palm trees.
We especially enjoyed visiting Georgia with the Wine Lovers tour.