Georgians’ origins are clouded by ancient history. They strongly identify with their local regions, but united by shared or similar language plus shared culture and history going back centuries.
It is thought that Georgians have been making wine for at least 8000 years,. They continue to use the same method of their history for fermenting the grapes along with grape skins, pips and often stalks in large clay amphprae (qvevri) buried in the earth. The potent grappa-like firewater, chacha is distilled from the pulp left after the wine is eventually drawn off. The grapes most commonly used today are the white Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane and Kisi and the red Saperavi
Wine is made throughout Georgia but more than half of it comes from the eastern Kakheti region
Here in the Kakheti region, near to the picturesque town of Sighnaghi, late season harvesting of white grapes. The harvesting, as in ancient times, is all done by hand – only the trucks and tractors taking the grapes to the winery are a give away of modern times.
Arriving at lunch time, always welcoming people, the harvesters invited us to share their lunch. This followed by a lesson on how to cut the grapes from vines, drop clusters into hand carried buckets to the waiting truck. I couldn’t believe how fast they moved through the vineyard, quickly filling waiting trucks.
All images © Barbara Nelson