Finally, we have landed all the way at the eastern edges of the country, in the nation’s largest and most historically important winemaking region, Kakheti. Accounting for more than 70% of the nation’s 55,000 hectares of vines, Kakheti is squeezed between the Caucasus range to the north, Kartli range to the west, Gareji Uplands and Shiraki Plateau to the South, and the border with Azerbaijan to the East where the terrain begins to descend into rolling lowlands. This is the home of Georgian winemaking, where the Qvevri vinification process – its trademark earthenware, egg-shaped vessels and skin-contact technique – was incorporated into the UNESCO “Intangible Heritage of Humanity” list. This says it all: this is the heart of the heart of wine and its relation to us, our production of it as a human species, where it all began and where it is still going and going and going. We have a smattering of producers with absurdly delicious wines hailing from this sacred region.
Tamuna Bidzinashvili formed her winery Kortavebis Marani in 2014. She planted 2.5 ha in Kakheti and started making wine with purchased fruit while waiting for the vineyard to grow. Now 60% of the grapes used are from the Kortavebis Marani property, there are 35 indigenous grape varietals growing as a kind of library. The wines are made in the traditional Georgian way, aged in qveri.