Georgia . Kalkheti

Mysterious Imereti

Imereti is a central Georgian province situated on the upper reaches of the Rioni River.  It is less well-known than it’s super-star sister province Kakheti(see "Georgia Food and Wine Tour Route No. 1”), but don’t let that deter you!  For the discerning wine tourist, Imereti has its own unique varietals and wine heritage that are waiting to reward the adventurous traveller who is willing to get off the beaten track to find them!

The experience is one that is uniquely Georgian and completely unforgettable!

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 visit the bluffs of Metekhi and their beautiful vantage points over the city, as well as The 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, 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 of sulfur baths 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 – Mtskheta – Kutaisi

After breakfast and check-out, we’ll head by bus to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Mtskheta is famous for its great selection of restaurants at any taste. Even the most stubborn gourmet will be satisfied with the variety of restaurants with all kinds of different interior and a wide variety of dishes.

There we will visit the Jvari Monastery (6th century), which is located on a top of a hill at the confluence of the Aragvi and Kura rivers. It is here, according to the historical sources, that St. Nino Equal of Apostles erected a cross.

Next, we’ll visitthe Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), which is known as the burial place of Christ’s mantle and is one of the most significant places of worship in all of Georgia.

After visiting Svetitskhoveli, we’ll drive to the Ioga Winerywhere we’ll have lunch and will try a variety of their wines.

From there we’ll continue on to the Ateni Monastery Wine Cellar, where, among other wines, we’ll sample their distinctive dry white Atenuri wine.

Next we’ll drive to Kutaisi in Western Georgia. In ancient times, Kutaisi was known as the kingdom of the ancient Colchis, and is today, as then, the heart of Imereti wine making culture.

Winemaking tradition has been alive and thriving here since the time of the Colchis and uses its own unique technology for winemaking. Imereti wine is known for wines like Gelati (white), Argveti(port), Tsitska (white) and other less known wines. Generally, Imereti wine is not as strong as wines in Kakheti and tend to be less sweet.

Near Kutaisi, we’ll visit the Khareba Winery (September tous only) or theArchilGuniava Wine Cellar (Marani) where we’ll taste several varieties of sparkling wine. Thanks to the diversity of vine sorts and different climatic conditions Khareba Wineryis able to produce particularly distinctive sparkling wine. Using a special approach to winemaking and wine development in their wine cellar Khareba’s wines can be described as vivid. The wines that Khareba produces here in Western (Tsitska, Krakhuna, Tsolikauri, OtskanuriSapere, Aladasturi, and Usakhelauri) differ markedly from the wines Khareba produces in Eastern Georgia (which are featured on “Georgia Food and Wine Tour Route No. 1”). We'll have dinner and overnight in Kutaisi.

Day 3 Kutaisi – Racha – Tbilisi

After breakfast and check-out, we’ll head to the Gelati Monastery. Gelati is the symbol of Georgia’s Golden Age. The monastery was founded by King David IV (the Builder) in 1106 AD. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gelati is the burial ground for King David and all subsequent Georgian kings.

Next, we visit the Sataplia Cave which is known for it’s underground springs, stalactites and stalagmites, and dinosaur footprints). It is a complex structure and contains geological, paleontological, speleological and botanical monuments.

In Rachawe’ll taste the wines at the GogiMargveladzis Wine Cellar (Marani).

In the late afternoon we’ll return to Tbilisi for a feast in one of the capital’s leading restaurants, and, of course, more wine.

Overnight in Tbilisi.

Day 4 Tbilisi and Departure

After breakfast and check-out we’ll visit the Sarajishvili Brandy Factory. It was founded by the entrepreneur and scientist David Sarajishvili in 1888. After a brief tour of the factory we’ll sample Sarajishvili’s distinctive brandies.

After lunch in the city we’ll transit to the airport for departure.