Georgia . Kalkheti

Glorious Kakheti

With more indigenous grape varieties than in any other country (over 500 varieties)and numerous archaeological discoveries to substantiate its claim, Georgia proudly claims to be the birthplace of wine.  Armenia would fiercely dispute that, but they are arguing over technicalities.  The fact is that wine was born in the Caucasus and when it comes to wine in Georgia, no place is more representative of Georgian wine culture than Kakheti.

Tucked at the feet of the great Caucasus Mountains and with wide, sun-drenched plains, Kakheti is a wine growers dream.  It is here that the Georgian wine renaissance has found its stride and where a handful of boutique wineries and some larger ones, as well, are putting Georgia back on the global wine map.

Day 1 Tbilisi

Arrival to Tbilisi, registration at the hotel, rest

In the late afternoon we’ll head out by foot on a city tour and our first foray into Georgian wine culture: the Leselidze Wine Cellar (Marali).

We will also visit the bluffs of Metekhiand their beautiful vantage points over the city, as well asThe Metekhi Church (late 13th century), which is a symbol of Georgia’s fight to maintain its Christian heritage through much persecution.

Along the way we’ll visit:

1. The Bridge of Peace – a stunning new walking bridge over the Kura River and The Sioni Cathedral<.strong>, which was originally built in the 6th and 7th centuries and until 2004 was the central cathedral for the Georgian Orthodox Church.

2. The Abanotubani Quarter -located in the center of Tbilisi, this district is famous for its complex ofsulfurbaths standing on the natural sulfur springs. These baths were built in different periods (17th-19th centuries). The current baths form a separate quarter of the city and are a popular venue for residents and tourists alike.

3.The Narikala Fortress which is the soul of Tbilisi. The discovery of the citadel dates the structure back to the 4th century AD. The fortress was expanded in 7th century and again in the 11th and 12th centuries. At this period of time, the walls went down to the Kura, giving the citadel control over the trade routes that passed along the river.

After our walk we’ll have a traditional Georgian dinner at one of Tbilisi’s best restaurants, where we’ll try 2-3 wines and chacha – the traditional Georgian vodka. We’ll overnight in Tbilisi.

Day 2 Tbilisi – Bodbe – Sighnaghi

After breakfast and check-out, we’ll head by bus to Kakheti, Georgia’s eastern-most province located on the border with Azerbaijan.

Kakheti is the heartland of Georgia’s traditional wine culture, where most families keep a wine cellar where they make their own wine using the traditional in-ground, wax-lined, clay jar or qvevri.

Thereafter, we’ll head to Sighnaghi and one of Georgia’s most acclaimed new boutique wineries – Pheasant’s Tears. Here we’ll try 4 different varieties of their organic wine sand a special sort of chacha with bread and cheese. While at Pheasant’s Tears we’ll have master classes in preparing whatever is their traditional Georgian dish of the day, which will be followed by lunch in their beautiful restaurant.

After lunch we’ll continue on to Bodbeand The Church of St. George, which houses the remains of Nino of Cappadocia–the 4th century evangelist who introduced Christianity to Georgia.

Next we’ll head back to Sighnaghi, where we’ll tour this incredibly romantic city which overlooks theAlazani Valley and the Kvareli Mountains.

Along the way we’ll visit an ethnographic museum with unique medieval artifacts and 16 paintings from the famous Georgian artist NikoPirosmani (Pirosmanishvili).

This will be followed by a visit to The Carpet Housewhere guests will see the ancient Georgian weaving traditions oftheTusheti region.

After a brief rest, we’ll head out for a traditional dinner at one of the best restaurants of Sighnaghi, where, of course, we’ll taste more wines and chacha.

Overnight in Sighnaghi.

Day 3 Sighnaghi – Tsinandali – Telavi

After breakfast and check-out, we’ll drive to the micro-zone of Tsinandali, perhaps the epicenter of Kakheti’s wine culture.Here we’ll visit the estate of Alexander Chavchavadze.Chavchavadze built a winery where he combined European and Georgian winemaking techniques. The estate includes a beautiful garden and wine cellar, where we’ll taste 5 different premium wines including a dry white wine from the Rkatsiteligrape.

Next, we will move to the city Telavi, the capital of Kakheti, where we’ll visit themonasticwine cellar at the Alaverdi Cathedral (11th century), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here monks were already producing wine at the beginning of 8th century.

Afterwards, we’ll have a leisurely lunch and a degustation ofqvevriwine in the Napareulimicro-zone at the TkupebisMarani Winery. After a rest, we’ll have dinner and more wine tasting at Chateau Mere,one of the best restaurants and boutique wineries in Shuamta. With its stunning views, bohemian atmosphere, and incredible Saperavi wines that are winning world-wide acclaim, the evening Chateau Mere will be truly memorable.

Overnight in Telavi

Day 4 Telavi – Gurjaani – Tbilisi

After breakfast and check-out we’ll drive to the Kvareli micro-zone, located in the Alazani Valley. There we’ll visit the Khareba Winery, one of the largest in Georgia. Here you will try several wines from traditional Georgian varietals in the Kvareli Tunnel.

From there we’ll head on to the Natroshvilis WineryinKvareli.

Finally, we’ll wrap up our tour with a tasting in Gurjaani, wherewe’ll visit a family wine house, which produces traditional wine in qvevri.During the wine-tasting, we’ll try traditional Georgian bread or shoti and delicious Imereticheese and seasonal fruit.

After visiting the winery, return to Tbilisi and transit to the airport for departure.