Since 2019, both large wineries and family-run cellar doors have come together each October to celebrate the versatility and quality of the more than 500 grape varieties that are grown in Georgia. As you might imagine, the selection of flavours on offer is enormous.
But the festival is more than just a celebration of wine, it is also a celebration of Georgian culture. In Akhtala Park, visitors find cultural exhibitions and culinary pavilions where they can sample (and even make) traditional Georgian foods such as churchkhela and Kakhetian shoti bread. Visitors also have the chance to learn about the process of making traditional Qvevri wine, comparing the difference in taste between Georgian wine and European-style wines.
Georgia is the birthplace of wine, with the fossilized grape pips and remains of Qvevris dating back to the Neolithic period acting as proof of the country’s more than 8,000 years of winemaking tradition. Trace amounts of wine acid on pottery fragments confirm that these Qvevris were used across multiple years, much like they are today.
The Qvevri and the process of traditional Georgian wine making are so important to world heritage that they were declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
But in a country with so much wine history, why is Gurjaani the host of this celebration. Well, Gurjaani lies at the very heart of Georgia’s most famous winemaking region: Kakheti.
The municipality is home to more than 80 wineries, the majority of which are family owned. It is here that some of the most famous wines of Protected Designation of Origin are bottled - such as Gurjaani, Kardenakhi, Vazisubani, Akhasheni, Akhoebi, Tsarapi, Zegaani, Kotekhi and Mukuzani.
Of the 29 wines of Protected Designation of Origin in Georgia, more than a half comes from Kakheti, and 9 of these are from microregions belonging to the Gurjaani Municipality.
Making wine is the business of the people of Gurjaani, while tasting it is a popular pastime among visitors.
If you’re a lover of wine and wine culture, pay a visit to Gurjaani during the autumn to see vineyards heavy with ripe grapes, pick them with your own hands, and participate in the millennia old tradition of making Georgian wine at the Gurjaani Wine Festival.