Telavi: in the homeland of the legendary Georgian wine

Telavi: in the homeland of the legendary Georgian wine 4 July 2018

A small and cozy town of Telavi is the capital of glorious Kakheti, the main winemaking region of Georgia. There were times when caravans going from the countries of the Middle East to Europe stopped in Telavi. In the 18th century Georgian kings moved their residence here, and in the 1970s the city even became a movie set for the cult film of George Danelia “Mimino”. What can surprise you in modern Telavi? We will find out now!

What to do in Telavi?

The answer is obvious – you should drink wine here! The city is situated on the Alazani valley, which is famous for its vineyards. “Saperavi”, “Akhasheni”, Kindzmarauli”, “Mukuzani”, “Tsinandali”, “Tibaani” and – it is difficult to list all the local wines, so you have to try everything on the spot. Georgian wine making tradition, called as Qvevri-wine is uncial and listed in intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. The history of making wine in traditional qvevri vessels has existed at least 8000 years and is till practiced today. The wine-making process involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks and pips into the Qvevri, which is sealed and buried in the ground so that the wine can ferment for five to six months before being drunk.

Most of the wine cellars and plants are concentrated in the area between Telavi and Gurjaani. If we believe the experts, it is here that you can try the best Georgian wines!

One more peculiarity of winemaking in Telavi is the use of kvevri (giant clay jugs), where the wine is aged and soaked. These are not just containers, kvevri are sacred vessels that can be used for centuries!

Georgian folk singers at Georgian feast

What do you have to see in Telavi and the surrounding area?

  • Batonis Tsikhe castle – considered to be the best-preserved medieval royal palace in Georgia. Built in 17th century it was the residence of Kakhetian kings during the 17th and 18th centuries. In front of the palace is erected a monument of the King Erekle II. In clear weather you can enjoy the mesmerizing views on Alazani Valley and Caucasus Mountains.
  • Ikalto monastery and academy – (about 8 km from Telavi) an important education center in XI-XII centuries, where Georgians could learn various professions. The first monastery is founded from Saint Father Zenon and dates back to the 6th century;
  • Tsinandali village (about 9 km from Telavi) – it was this place that the first winery in Kakheti was opened at! The company is active until now and it is called the “Shumi” plant – nowadays there are about 300 sorts of grapes growing on its territory (and even a tiny winemaking museum is functioning here). In addition, in Tsinandali there is the mansion of Chavchavadze princes, which is worth visiting. Lermontov and Griboyedov often visited this place.
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It was Chavchavadze who, according to the legends, was the first in Kakheti to produce European wine – he fermented the grape juice of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane varieties, having previously separated the pomace (grape seeds, flesh and skin). As a result, he got a light dry wine, which is considered the most acidic wine in Georgia today, and, as a rule, opens tastings.

  • Gremi (about 20 km from Telavi) is the only surviving fortress of the city of Gremi, which was destroyed by the Persians.
  • Monastery of Alaverdi (about 100 km from Telavi) – a majestic Christian complex on the territory of which the remains of Kakhetian kings lie. Alaverdi Cathedral is considered one of the oldest and highest cathedrals in Georgia, second only to the capital’s temple Tsminda Sameba.
2013-09 Gremi (2) Alaverdi Monastery

It is possible to have an excellent rest at almost any time of the year. We would recommend coming here in the autumn - after grueling summer heat, the weather in this region finally becomes comfortable. But more importantly, the grape harvesting starts exactly in the autumn. In honor of this occasion, in Georgia they celebrate Rtveli – a traditional holiday with mass feasts, dances and many-voiced singing. Do you want to become part of these merry festivities, immersed in the atmosphere of a serene provincial Kakheti? We are waiting for you in Telavi!

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Bottle of red wine, grapes and wooden barrel by Mamuka Gotsiridze on 500px.com

The largest kvevri in the world

Autumnal landscape of Kakheti region by Anna Bogush on 500px.com

Georgian wine area Kakheti by Anna Bogush on 500px.com

Autumnal landscape of Kakheti region by Anna Bogush on 500px.com


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