Georgian Wine and the City of Love: Kakheti
What is romance if not fine wine and breathtaking views? Kakheti is a region in eastern Georgia, which you can visit easily from Tbilisi. It’s home to the Georgian wine industry, so you’ll see plenty of vineyards on your trip. Kakheti is also home to the City of Love, Signagi.
The best way to enjoy it all is on a day trip from Tbilisi. I highly recommend booking a trip with Gamarjoba Georgia Tours. They put on an amazing tour of the Kakheti region. Around 12 hours long, the tour gives you all the best of Kakheti.
Bread, Cheese, and Chacha
Georgian wine is delicious, but first you need to whet your appetite. The best way to do that is with bread and cheese. That’s why the day trip begins with a visit to a Georgian bakery in the village of Badiauri. There you can buy some traditional Georgian cheese and bread. If you want to pay a little extra, you can even make some bread yourself.
Georgian bread is made by slapping the dough against the inside of a hot oven. This gives it a delightfully crisp texture. Cheese is a great pairing with the bread, but I also recommend buying some tomatoes at the stalls outside the bakery. Georgian produce is incredibly flavorful.
Your tour guides will offer you something else to go with the snack: chacha. Chacha is a potent Georgian brandy made from the grape residue left after making wine. It’ll definitely wake you up and put you in a good mood.
The City of Love
Next, you’ll arrive at Signagi, the City of Love. Why is it called the City of Love? Great question. According to my tour guide, the people of Signagi just made that up to attract tourists. But don’t let that discourage you. Signagi is a small, charming town. And like the rest of Kakheti, it is undergoing rapid renovation due to growing tourist interest and investment.
You’ll get the chance to walk around and enjoy lunch. The architecture is quaint, and the views of the Alazani Valley are stunning. If it’s a hot day, I recommend purchasing some wine-flavored ice cream. The churchkhela here is also particularly good. Churchkhela is a classic Georgian snack made of a string of nuts covered in thickened grape juice.
But the main attraction in the City of Love is the Great Wall of Georgia. Built in the 18th century, these walls protected the Kakheti region from numerous invasions. Although not all of the walls are available to see, you can walk along much of the ramparts and explore one of the fortresses. It’s a great place to snap pictures of the valley.
The Bodbe Monastery
The Bodbe Monastery is the spiritual center of Kakheti. Supposedly, the monastery was built on the resting place of Saint Nino, who converted Georgia to Christianity. Whether or not this is true, it’s still an active convent.
Here you’ll find religious services, carefully tended gardens, and a newly renovated church. The church appears to have a traditional architectural style, but the interior is completely modern. You can’t take any pictures inside, so use your imagination. Everything is white with only a few gold accents. It is the spitting image of piety and purity.
The Khareba Winery
At last, we get to the moment you’ve been waiting for. The Khareba Winery will give you a great introduction to the Georgian wine industry. They are the largest of Georgia’s wine cellars, and all of their wine is stored in a massive tunnel system 7.7 km in length. Carved into the mountainside, these tunnels naturally keep the wine at a perfect temperature for the winemaking process.
You’ll get a nice tour of the tunnels and learn more about the winemaking process. But obviously the best part of the tour is tasting the wine. Depending on how much you pay, you can try several different varietals. Many of these varietals are semi-sweet, so people with a sweet tooth will be happy.
More About Georgian Wine
But I want to talk a little more about Georgian wine so you know what to expect. Winemaking in the West is a science. Trust me. I used to make it in California. Commercial yeast and nutrients are added for fermentation, and small doses of sulfur are added to prevent oxidation and bacterial growth. This results in a consistent and reliable product with a fragrant bouquet.
In Georgia, winemakers let nature do all the work. This means that the wine often has a certain funk. Sugar can hide this. That’s probably why semi-sweet varietals are so popular. In drier varietals, the funk is more noticeable.
Does that mean Georgian wine is bad? Absolutely not! Georgia has a massive amount of grapes, so you’ll definitely find one that matches your preferences. My favorite is Saperavi. All I want you to know is this is a different experience. And you should definitely take advantage of that experience because Georgian wine is hard to come by in the US and other nations.
Whatever your preferences are, you will definitely have fun on this day trip. The people of Gamarjoba Georgia Tours are so friendly and insightful. After you enjoy your Georgian wine tasting, you should look into another excursion in Georgia. Try this unforgettable day trip to Kazbegi. The views are breathtaking.