Georgia Cradle of Wine
Georgia is unquestionably the birthplace of wine. Grape seeds have been found in Caucasian tombs 8000 years ago, along with wine implements such as clay vessels. Nowhere else in the world is the evidence of viniculture so old.
Indeed the word "wine" is traced to Georgian word "ghvino", which has been in use for much longer than most modern languages have existed. Probably there is no country where wine is more revered and a wine culture so developed and cherished. There are about 500 indigenous species of grape (most used for wine) far more than anywhere else, most of them still completely unknown to the rest of the world. Here you can taste unique varieties of wine in a vast array of subtle flavor differences.
Nowadays wine is still produced exactly the same way it was before. Grapes are placed in large earthenware vessels called ‘qvevri,’ large enough to fit a person inside, buried in the ground up to their necks. These special wine vaults are then sealed and left to fermentation for three or four months. It makes wine rich on tannin and vitamins, completely organic and distinctively flavorful.
Georgian wine is so pure and untainted by artificial ingredients (such as sulphites), that hangover is practically unknown by those who drink it properly.
Visit any home in the wine-growing region of Kakheti and be greeted at the door by a glass of traditionally made home-produced wine – a tradition dating back at least three thousand years, and a delight to any traveler. Make sure you try homemade white wines, or chacha!
Georgia's moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the ideal conditions for wine culturing. Names like Saperavi, Mukuzani, Teliani are becoming increasingly familiar to wine connoisseurs around the world. We are more than proud to show off the process that takes these fine grapes from vine to bottle – and then of course, to the table.
We treasure our wine and our wine traditions over all else – and invite you to taste the fruit of our labor for yourself.
Short Wine List:
Rkatsiteli creates a robust white wine, which is full of character.
Mtsvane is popular as a blending partner for Rkatsiteli but also has its own vital qualities.
Saperavi the primary red variety provides vintages, which are powerful and fiery, with an aroma consisting of plums, spices and almonds. In the regions of Kacheti Kindzmarauli, Khvanchkara and Akhasheni it also acquires a naturally cultivated sweetness.
Georgian culture evolved over thousands of years with its foundations in Iberian and Colchian civilizations, continuing into the rise of the unified Georgian Kingdom under the single monarchy of the Bagrationi. Georgian culture enjoyed a golden age and renaissance of classical literature, arts, philosophy, architecture and science in the 11th century.
The Georgian language, and the Classical Georgian literature of the poet Shota Rustaveli, were revived in the 19th century after a long period of turmoil, laying the foundations of the romantics and novelists of the modern era such as Grigol Orbeliani, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela, and many others. Georgian culture was influenced by Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and later by the Russian Empire.
Georgians have their own unique 3 alphabets which according to traditional accounts was invented by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia in 3rd century BC.
Georgia is well known for its rich folklore, unique traditional music, theatre, cinema, and art. Georgians are renowned for their love of music, dance, theatre and cinema. In the 20th century there have been notable Georgian painters such as Niko Pirosmani, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani; ballet choreographers such as George Balanchine, Vakhtang Chabukiani, and Nino Ananiashvili; poets such as Galaktion Tabidze, Lado Asatiani, and Mukhran Machavariani; and theatre and film directors such as Robert Sturua,Tengiz Abuladze, Giorgi Danelia and Otar Ioseliani.
Architecture and arts
Georgian architecture has been influenced by many civilizations. There are several different architectural styles for castles,towers, fortifications and churches. The Upper Svaneti fortifications, and the castle town of Shatili in Khevsureti, are some of the finest examples of medieval Georgian castle architecture. Other architectural aspects of Georgia include Rustaveliavenue in Tbilisi in the Hausmann style, and the Old Town District.
Georgian architecture is an amazing mixture of ancient, vintage and modern. Cave towns, old churches and cathedrals, medieval towers in the mountains, city walls and fortresses that have witnessed so many historical events… It all is just near the elegant buildings from the XIX century and bold modern constructions.
Take a walk through Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi, visit Vardzia, Shatili and Mestia, and let your eyes enjoy the diversity of the Georgian architecture!
Georgian ecclesiastic art is one of the most notable aspects of Georgian Christian architecture, which combines classicaldome style with original basilica style forming what is known as the Georgian cross-dome style. Cross-dome architecture developed in Georgia during the 9th century; before that, most Georgian churches were basilicas. Other examples of Georgian ecclesiastic architecture can be found outside Georgia: Bachkovo Monastery in Bulgaria (built in 1083 by the Georgian military commander Grigorii Bakuriani), Iviron monastery in Greece (built by Georgians in the 10th century), and theMonastery of the Cross in Jerusalem (built by Georgians in the 9th century).
The art of Georgia spans the prehistoric, the ancient Greek, Roman, medieval, ecclesiastic, iconic and modern visual arts. One of the most famous late 19th/early 20th century Georgian artists is a primitivist painter Niko Pirosmani.
The kitchen and dining traditions
You may try delicious Georgian food and different Georgian drinks from lemonade to chacha in various cafes and restaurants. However, one of the best ways to experience and understand Georgian traditions of eating, drinking and enjoying life is Supra, the Georgian table.
It shouldn’t always have a festive reason: every day can be festive in Georgia. Gathering with friends and family is very important here. If the guests are attending supra, it is even merrier. So if you are invited, don’t be shy: try all the dishes (it’s a big pleasure for the hosts if their guests are full and happy), join the toast-master, take wine with the others and say some warm words too.
The order of toasts is not always the same: it varies from region to region, but generally the first glass should be drained for God and peace, because both play very important role for every Georgian. If you learn the phrase “Gmerts dideba chven mshvidoba” (“May the God’s greatness bring you peace”), it would be really appreciated.
Georgia is situated in the South Caucasus, between latitudes 41° and 44° N, and longitudes 40° and 47° E, with an area of 67,900 km2 (26,216 sq mi). It is a very mountainous country. The Likhi Range divides the country into eastern and western halves. Historically, the western portion of Georgia was known as Colchis while the eastern plateau was called Iberia. Because of a complex geographic setting, mountains also isolate the northern region of Svaneti from the rest of Georgia.
The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range forms the northern border of Georgia. The main roads through the mountain range into Russian territory lead through the Roki Tunnel between South and North Ossetia and the Darial Gorge (in the Georgian region of Khevi). The Roki Tunnel was vital for the Russian military in the 2008 South Ossetia war because it is the only direct route through the Caucasus Mountains. The southern portion of the country is bounded by the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range is much higher in elevation than the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, with the highest peaks rising more than 5,000 meters (16,404 ft) above sea level.
The highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara at 5,068 meters (16,627 ft), and the second highest is Mount Janga (Dzhangi-Tau) at 5,059 m (16,598 ft) above sea level. Other prominent peaks include Mount Kazbek at 5,047 m (16,558 ft), Shota Rustaveli 4,860 m (15,945 ft), Tetnuldi 4,858 m (15,938 ft), Mt. Ushba 4,700 m (15,420 ft), and Ailama 4,547 m (14,918 ft). Out of the abovementioned peaks, only Kazbek is of volcanic origin. The region between Kazbek and Shkhara (a distance of about 200 km (124 mi) along the Main Caucasus Range) is dominated by numerous glaciers. Out of the 2,100 glaciers that exist in the Caucasus today, approximately 30% are located within Georgia.
he term Lesser Caucasus Mountains is often used to describe the mountainous (highland) areas of southern Georgia that are connected to the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range by the Likhi Range. The area can be split into two separate sub-regions; the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, which run parallel to the Greater Caucasus Range, and the Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland, which lies immediately to the south of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
The overall region can be characterized as being made up of various, interconnected mountain ranges (largely of volcanic origin) and plateaus that do not exceed 3,400 meters (11,155 ft) in elevation. Prominent features of the area include theJavakheti Volcanic Plateau, lakes, including Tabatskuri and Paravani, as well as mineral water and hot springs. Two majorrivers in Georgia are the Rioni and the Mtkvari. The Southern Georgia Volcanic Highland is a young and unstable geologic region with high seismic activity and has experienced some of the most significant earthquakes that have been recorded in Georgia.
The Krubera Cave is the deepest known cave in the world. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range, in Abkhazia. In 2001, a Russian–Ukrainian team had set the world depth record for a cave at 1,710 meters (5,610 ft). In 2004, the penetrated depth was increased on each of three expeditions, when a Ukrainianteam crossed the 2,000-meter (6,562 ft) mark for the first time in the history of speleology. In October 2005, an unexplored part was found by the CAVEX team, further increasing the known depth of the cave. This expedition confirmed the known depth of the cave at 2,140 meters (7,021 ft).
Official language and alphabet
Georgian is spoken by approximately four million people, mainly in Georgia where it is the official language. Approximately 98% of the population speaks Georgian as their first language.
The Georgian alphabet has its own independent place among the 14 existing alphabets known to the world. The oldest known inscriptions date from the beginning of the 5th century. The writing has undergone considerable changes since then.
Jason and the Argonauts
The first Europeans
Georgia recently made world headlines with the startling discovery of the 1.8 million year old Dmanisi hominoids in the hills just south of Tbilisi. Providing the missing link in human evolution between Africa and Europe, it enables us to claim the first outbound tourists from Europe. You can visit the site where they were found and are exhibited and see. Remains of a 1.8 million year old hominid were discovered in Georgia.
Here a long tradition of religious tolerance unites people instead of dividing them. Throughout all its history, strangers of all faiths have always been welcomed in Georgia. Living in the mountains and on the borders of so many civilizations, one begins to appreciate the mysteriousity of life.
Of course, the primary religion here is Christian as it has been since IV century. The Georgian Orthodox Church is deep in the nation’s soul, fundamental to its history, an indisputable part of its future.
You can really feel the spirit of Georgian history in its churches. They can be perched high up in the Greater Caucasus, like Gergeti Church near Mt. Kazbegi, or carved into sandstone hillsides, as in Vardzia or David Gareji. Their walls are usually covered in frescos and frequently resound with the sounds of our polyphonic choirs.
Stand in Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral on a Sunday morning and experience the sounds of a religious tradition spanning nearly two thousand years. Visit the splendid Gelati complex near Kutaisi and see a large cathedral covered from its floor to cupola-top with magnificent frescos and mosaics. Wind your way up into the remote mountain valleys of Svaneti and encounter superb XII century frescos in the most far-flung churches, as well as several museums packed with elegant icons and treasures.
The climate of Georgia is extremely diverse, considering the nation's small size. There are two main climatic zones, roughly separating Eastern and Western parts of the country. The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range plays an important role in moderating Georgia's climate and protects the nation from the penetration of colder air masses from the north. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains partially protect the region from the influence of dry and hot air masses from the south as well.
EUROPE’S HIGHEST SETTLEMENT
Considered to be the most dramatic and impressive region of the entire Caucasus, Svaneti is a very good place for hiking. From the Cross Peak directly above Mestia you can see the magnificent twin peaks of Mt. Ushba (4710 meters), the snow pyramid of Mt. Tetnuldi (4974 meters), the beginnings of Georgia’s highest mountain, Mt. Shkhara (5068 meters), and Mt. Elbrus, Europe’s highest (5642 meters) lurking just behind Ushba. Here you are truly in the heart of the mountains, and the feeling of being here is indescribable.
Ushguli village in Svaneti region, which is situated at 2,300 meter altitude, is the highest settlement in Europe.
Svaneti is known for its superb house-towers, most dating back to the XII-XIII centuries, which spring up from the rocky valley floor like miniature castles. Drive round the corner into Latali village and be struck by the sight of a dozen tall towers reaching into the sky like stone fingers. With such a strong architectural presence it is no surprise that Mestia Museum is a treasure trove of exquisite icons and artifacts gathered from Svaneti’s many remote churches and villages, preserved in this natural mountain fortress from centuries of pillagers.
Georgia, at the crossroads of civilizations, has always been steeped in culture. With its distinctly national characteristics as well as an ability to borrow from cultures as diverse as Persian, Greek, Roman and Russian, Georgian art is a unique blend of different influences that still manages to be innately authentic. Georgia’s immensely rich architectural heritage is something no visitor of the country can ignore.
From Roman ruins to art nouveau mansions, Georgia has lots of interesting and diverse buildings. The country’s churches are perhaps its greatest architectural treasure. All over the country, from the biggest towns to the most remote mountain-tops, fabulous churches, complete with intricate details and amazing carving, have stood the test of time.
Georgian churches have developed from the simple basilica style seen in places like Bolnisi Sioni, through to the glorious tetra-conch designs of Jvari and Ateni Sioni right up to the amazing, serene cathedrals. It was the Golden Age, between the XI and early XIII century that many of Georgia’s best buildings have come down to us. These include Gelati, Svetishkhoveli and Alaverdi.
Towers and village strongholds on the slopes of Great Caucasus Range (Svaneti, Khevsureti and Tusheti) form in an inalienable part of Georgian architecture. Their majority were built in the Late Middle Ages, some being even older.
As the XIX century was fading away, Europe witnessed the rise of a new and very popular style: Art nouveau, referred to as Modernist style in Georgia. Modernistic forms in Tbilisi acquired an original shape and character and are now part of the world heritage. The neo-classical and art nouveau streets of Batumi and Tbilisi date from this period, while impressive buildings from the Soviet era have also made their impact.
Over the centuries, Georgia was in the sphere of influence of both Eastern and Western civilizations. By blending the two civilizations with its own centuries-old traditions, Georgia formed its original, national culture, where the fine arts played a decisive role, especially frescos, paintings and enamel.
Georgian fresco painting reached a zenith during the golden age of the XII - XIII centuries. Featuring both religious and secular themes, the coloring and iconography of Georgian frescoes display a reimagining of byzantine styles and motifs, and achieve something very refined and utterly distinct.
Udabno Monastery in Davit Gareji contains some amazing examples of a unique school of paintings developed here. Ateni’s Sioni near Tbilisi houses some of the frescoes in the country, as does Gelati, which also has outstanding mosaics. Bodbe near Sighnaghi has interesting 18th century frescoes, while Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi has some very unusual modernist frescoes from the early XX century.
Many of these religious monuments are as well interesting for their exterior decorations. Georgian relief sculpture is a unique blend of local, Greco-Roman and Persian influences. Stylized, yet highly detailed scenes are common on many churches, notably Nikortsminda in Racha and Ananuri on the famous Georgian Military Highway. Icon painting, metal tracery and enamel work are other areas where Georgia developed its own unique and important style. Dazzling examples of icons, altarpieces and procession crosses are on display at the State Art Museum.
The national awakening of the late XIX and early XX century also provided incentives to Georgian art. Georgians returning from Paris, St. Petersburg and elsewhere brought new modern ideas to Georgian painting, which took an entirely new path. Artists such as Lado Gudiashvili, Davit Kakabadze and Elene Akhvlediani who was a friend of Picasso, were inspired by cubism and impressionism and applied them in a Georgian way.
Georgia’s favorite painter, however, is the early XX century primitivism follower Niko Pirosmani, whose depictions of feasts, exotic animals and ordinary life in Tbilisi can be seen at the State Art Museum or in Sighnaghi Museum.
Georgian dance, like the national polyphonic songs, remain a major cultural export. The Georgian State Dance Ensemble tours the world for most of the year. The vigorous, vibrant men leap high in the air; clash swords amidst flying sparks and razor sharp daggers are thrown into the floor in a frenetic, breathtaking choreography.
All this is contrasting with the women’s graceful, elegant and beautiful dances. Fabulous multi-colored costumes from the many mountain regions, wild drumming, accompanied by sound of pipes and accordions... The impression is mesmeric and truly unforgettable!
Georgian polyphonic music tradition is world-renowned and calls upon an enchanting combination of ancient and modern harmonies. In 2001 UNESCO acknowledged this music as “a masterpiece of the world’s intangible cultural heritage”.
Its unique, slightly dissonant style has not changed for centuries. The Greek historian Strabo recorded the multi-voiced chants of Georgians riding into battle as early as in the 1. century BC. The songs, made up of three-part harmonies, are still in the blood of modern society. They can be heard in churches and monasteries across the country; down Tbilisi’s back-streets of an early evening; or across the village fields in summer. They are also very much a part of the Georgian feast (supra).
Here are just a few of the unique Georgian dishes that you should try when you visit the country:
Georgian Cheese – A Georgian cheese assortment is full of various cheese platters from all regions of Georgia.
Nadughi – A dairy product similar to cottage cheese, but with a softer taste.
Khachapuri – Georgian cheese bread, also known as Georgian pizza, cooked to a number of regional styles. Lobiani – “Bean khachapuri”, bread baked with a seasoned bean stuffing and aromatic spices. Traditionally served on the Georgian holiday of Barbaroba, or St. Barbara’s Day, December 17.
Pkhaleuli – Vegetarian dishes from a variety of spiced plants usually with a walnut paste base, similar to spinach, but each having a unique taste and seasoning. Among these are: Jijilaka, Moloqa, and Ekala.
Ispanakhi – Spinach with ground walnut seasoning, spices and herbs.
Badrijani Nigvzit – Eggplants seasoned with ground walnuts, vinegar (or pomegranate juice), garlic, pomegranate seeds and spices.
Mchadi – Cornbread. Can be small and thick fried in oil, or thin and wide with a crunchy texture. Either way, it goes very well with cheese.
Khashi – a broth cooked from beef entrails and lavishly seasoned with garlic.
Kharcho – tender chicken soup
Chikhirtma – with eggs whipped in vinegar and a transparent light meat broth flavored with garlic, parsley and fennel.
Satsivi – Chicken or Turkey in a walnut sauce with garlic and spices.
Mtsvadi – Georgian barbeque, meat grilled to perfection over a grape vine wood fire, with fresh pomegranate juice squeezed over it.
Khinkali – The Georgian National dish: juicy meat dumplings made to be eaten by hand, using a special technique that can be learned only here. Visitors end up craving this so much they make special trips back just to taste it again.
Baje – Ground walnut sauce with garlic and spices.
Ajika – Georgia’s own spicy hot sauce filled with herbs and spices.
Tkemali – Georgian ketchup, but so much more… A red or green sour plum sauce made from the fruit of the ‘tkemali’ tree. No one leaves the country without a bottle.
Churchkhela – walnuts on a thread repeatedly dipped into a hot grape mixture, then hung to dry.
Gozinakhi – is a traditional Georgian confection made of caramelized nuts, usually walnuts, fried in honey, and served mainly on New Year’s Eve and Christmas.
Pelamushi – Georgian desserts traditionally take their flavor from fruit and nuts rather than butter and eggs. Pelamushi is a Georgian delicacy made from grape juice extract, combined with a mixture of sugar and flour.
Ski in Georgia - for the best moments of your life
There's nothing better than getting to the top of ski lift, breathing in the cold, pure air and gazing across the snowy peaks, realizing that you are about to ski down the side of maghty mountain.
Here in Georgia we are lucky enough to have some of the most impressive and highest mountains in Europe, with many peaks in the Caucasus mountain range higher than MOnte Blanc. The sking is equally impressive and recent, continuing upgrades and ivestments mean that our traditional resorts of gudauri and bakuriani are equal to inernational standards while our brand new resort of mestia will be one of the most advanced resorts in the world. New runs are being opened every year, but of on-piste isn't enough for you we are one of the few countries in the world that allows heli-skiing. The opportunities to heli-ski in georgia are virtually limitless and is prbably the most exhilarating activity an advanced skier can do, anywhere in the world.
with slopes so much quieter than in europel dont know why, haven't come to georgia sooner !
for a winter like this join us for the best moments of your life...
Welcome to Georgia