An exciting exchange programme between South Africa and The Republic of Georgia, the first of its kind, began this week with the arrival in Cape Town of young winemaker Tornike Chakhvadze from Khareba winery in the Kakheti winegrowing region of Georgia. The Georgian Ambassador Beka Dvali flew in from Pretoria to meet Tornike.
Tornike will be spending two months at Stellar Winery, South Africa’s largest organic wine producer and the world leader in the production of no-added-sulphur wines.
The 2015 harvest is currently underway and this is the perfect time for him to gain experience of South African vineyard practice and winemaking.
Khareba Winery, where Tornike is assistant winemaker, has approximately 1000 hectares of vines, all owned by the winery. The grapes are processed at two cellars, one at Kakheti, two-and-a-half hours east of the capital Tbilisi and a newer cellar to the west. Kakheti is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, with archaeological evidence suggesting winemaking has been taking place there for more than 8000 years.
Georgia was once home to about 500 grape varieties, which have been rationalized down to 40 in recent times. Khareba produces a wide variety of excellent, well-made wines including good sparkling, premium and sweet wines. The vineyards are spread across a wide valley floor with the Caucasus Mountains forming a spectacular backdrop.
Tornike’s visit is the launch of an initiative by the South Africa-Georgia Chamber of Commerce. A reciprocal visit by a South African winemaker to Khareba Winery is scheduled for the near future.