Here, I try to set the scene for the next few blog posts, which will be about Georgian wine. In this one I just want to let you know how we, my wife and I, came to be in Georgia, and very briefly relate what we got up to there.
In case there should be any doubt, I am writing here about a recent trip to Georgia the country; not the US state. It lies 4 time zones to the East of the UK, which translates to 3hrs in the summer as they do not have daylight saving time, and around 6 hours of actual flying on two flight. Its location is a lot better defined by physical geography than I first imagined, with the Black Sea to the West, and along the Northern border is the spectacular Greater Caucasus mountain range, the Lesser Causasus range being a much less distinct feature in Georgia’s South. To the East though, Georgia slips gently into Azerbaijan, with no obvious geographical feature to separate the two countries.
Initially we stayed a couple of nights in the capital, Tbilisi. Then two nights in the town of Sighnaghi and two at the Lapoto Lake Resort in the Easternmost region of Georgia, Kakheti – the largest wine producing region. And finally back to Tbilisi for a night before our return flight. This was not a press trip, but booked with the specialist wine tour company Arblaster and Clarke, and once in Georgia the 10 us on the trip were looked after by Living Roots. In practice, that was John Wurdeman, also of Pheasant’s Tears Winery, who was our wine guide for one evening in Tbilisi and most of our time in Kakheti, and Tamara Natanadze. She was with us for the rest of the tour, and guided us around Tbilisi and some monasteries, as well as accompanying us on a couple of wine tastings and the qvevri maker visit. Feel free to contact me if you think my views could help you plan a visit to Georgia, but I don’t intend to write much here about the tour companies, hotels, restaurant etc. Suffice to say that as a whole we had a jolly good time.
Looking back, just over a week after having returned, I still don’t think I have totally absorbed the rich experiences of the trip. The main impressions are perhaps of the beauty and humanity of the country, closely followed by the generous food and wine, and singing and dancing. It’s difficult to fully express these impressions in words or pictures, especially the humanity, but here at least are a couple of images that might help: a moment towards the end of a supra at the Pheasant’s Tears restaurant, the table still groaning under the weight of food; and the view over Sighnaghi and the Alazani valley, with the snow-capped Causasus mountains in the distance.
As usual here, in the blog posts that follow I shall not be giving a blow-by-blow account of my encounters with Georgian wine, but will give a very personal selection of experiences and thoughts, and also some more general aspects of Georgian wine that do not generally get much coverage.