The Napa Valley of Georgia (The Country)

If you love wine and Georgia isn’t on your travel bucket list yet, all I can say is you were wrong. Fortunately, it’s never too late to change that. Because Georgian wine is, and has been, having a moment. In 2021 alone, Georgia exported 107 million bottles of wine to 62 countries around the world.

About 70% of Georgia’s grapes come from a particular region. An area where around 200 grape varieties can be found, including Rkatsiteli, Kakhetian Mtsvane, Khikhvi, Kisi and Saperavi, and where winemaking traditions date back 8,000 years.

But it’s not just the wine that draws people to Kakheti. Kakheti’s unique natural landscape, ancient forts and towers, alpine lakes and hidden waterfalls add to the appeal. Throw in some world-class hotels, a can’t-miss classical music festival, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll find anywhere, and you have a rich and beautiful place to spend a few days in Georgia. .

Kakheti is one of those places that leaves a mark on you. Or at least a hangover.

Nearly a two-hour drive from Tbilisi, over the sometimes treacherous Gombori Pass, or a long detour with a detour through Sighnaghi, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Georgia’s wine country. Here’s what you need to know about Kakheti, Georgia’s famous wine region, before you go.

Where to stay in Kakheti

While wine is the main attraction in Kakheti, these three hotels stand out in the region.

The Tsinandali Estate, a Radisson Collection Hotel

Tsinandali Estate is not just a hotel. it’s an experience. And entering Prince Alexander Chavchavadze’s personal cellar is proof of that. A cellar that houses more than 15,000 bottles of wine dating back to 1814.

During a hotel stay, be sure to also visit the Tsinandali Palace Museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze and see how the family lived before learning even more about how they began making their own wine over 230 years ago. The Estate is steeped in history and charm that is unmatched by any other experience in Georgia.

Tip: The Tsinandali FestivalHeld every September, it is one of the best classical music festivals in the world and is not to be missed.

Telavi Community Hotel

One of the newest hotels to open in Telavi, Communal Hotel is a 12-room boutique hotel located in the heart of Telavi, the capital of Kakheti.

With a limited number of rooms, each with its own unique touch, from claw-foot tubs to balconies overlooking the cobblestone street below, the atmosphere at Communal is as rich as the wine, dining and relaxation. . In the summer months, the hotel pool is a great place to escape the heat, while the restaurant’s Georgian breakfast is the best you’ll find this side of Alazani.

Tip: You won’t find a better breakfast than the one served at the hotel’s restaurant, Doli.

Lost Ridge Inn Ranch and Brewery

From wine to food to beers, few places in Sighnaghi offer an experience like the Lost Ridge Inn. With every detail carefully curated and every meal even more thought through than the last, there is always something to see, do and eat during a visit.

Take a horseback ride through the surrounding hills or spend time with the brewmaster before exploring the surrounding vineyards and tasting rooms, including those below.

Tip: Although this is wine country, the Inn’s craft beers are one of the highlights of your stay here. Reserve the Archaeological Suite for an even more special experience.

The best wine tastings in Kakheti

While you can’t go wrong with any wine tasting in Kakheti, these are the ones you shouldn’t miss. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly experience or to learn more about the best natural wines in the country, these places have you covered.

Crazy Pomegranate Tasting Room and Vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard and with the Greater Caucasus Mountains looming in the distance, the Crazy Pomegranate Vineyard and Tasting Room is one of the best experiences for anyone interested in learning more about natural winemaking. Ask questions about Georgia’s unique qvevri pots (the traditional clay pots in which Georgians have been making wine for centuries) and combine the experience with dishes using local and forage ingredients that will have you wanting to move to Georgia in no time.

Tip: If you’re traveling in a small group and can’t meet the 10-person minimum at Crazy Pomegranate, check out Pheasant’s Tears restaurant in Sighnaghi.

Togonidze Winery

It’s not just the wine in Togonidze that will blow your mind. Asian-Georgian fusion of foods, plus art everywhere you look, will leave you enchanted and curious for more. And that is what keeps people coming back to Togonidze again and again: there is also something new to try. Y watch.

Spend the afternoon with the husband and wife duo who organize the wine tastings, and end the evening by stopping at Marleta’s Farm, where you can still drink Gia Togonidze’s wine, but this time paired with European-style cheeses.

Tip: Gia Togonidze is fluent in German as well as Georgian. She hires an English-speaking translator (and driver) to get the full experience.

akido marani

There are certain places you walk into and you immediately feel like family. This is one of them. Warm, welcoming and with the utmost Georgian hospitality, sip wine in the Marani Garden (wine cellar) and lend a hand to the ladies in the open kitchen. Dine on a traditional Blue Supra tablecloth and learn not only about the wine, but also about the unique history of this region from the people whose families have called this region home for generations.

Tip: History buffs will especially enjoy this 20the Kakheti-style castle museum of the century.

Bonus: shake off your hangover with a local nature activist

Wine, dinner and rewind. But not without a little walk in nature somewhere in between. Don’t worry, there’s still some homemade wine waiting for you at the end of this hike.

Take a nature walk with NaturHistorium Founder Kakhaber Sukhitashvili

Kakhaber Sukhitashvili is on a mission to make eco-based tourism more accessible and sustainable for the communities in the region that could benefit most from it, by helping them develop and understand the importance of the areas they call home.

Choose from several walking itineraries and spend the morning exploring ancient ruins and cellars dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There may even be some homemade wine, locally sourced honey and fresh puri (bread) waiting for you at the end of the trek.

Tip: Sukhitashvili works with local “ambassadors” in every village and area he works in. He brings a small gift to exchange with this local ambassador who is sure to load you up with homemade wine and honey (or other small gifts) upon his departure.

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