Georgia: The Perfect Wine-Weekend Getaway

December 28th, 2012

Why be boring and do a wine-trip to Napa or Sonoma like every other American?…When you could visit a foreign land, filled with warm and friendly people who won’t treat you like their ten millionth visitor…Why? Because you’d be, maybe their three- or four-hundredth visitor!The eastern European country of Georgia is fast becoming a desirable tourist destination. It’s got the landscape (mountains, rolling countryside, vineyards), modern amenities (hotels, restaurants, museums, airports, taxis) and, most importantly, the WINE!  A bonus is the fact that people working within tourist industry – speak English!

I’ve already shared some of my Georgian experiences in other posts, but I wanted to speak to two facets of my visit that occurred on the late afternoon and evening of Wednesday, November 14th.  These experiences were a bit more casual and reminiscent of what many Americans look for in an easy-going, “wine-weekend getaway.”

Schuchmann Wines ( in Kisiskhevi is not only a winery, but has a small hotel with eight rooms, wine tasting area and a restaurant as well. Schuchmann could be a destination all unto itself, nestled as it is in the Caucasus Mountains. The main building of the vineyard’s estate is referred to as the Château.  Its architecture is like a modern mountain lodge complete with big-wide front porch, expansive wood timbers, all new – but rustic-looking stone walls and floors, tiled roof and inviting fireplaces. The atmosphere is tranquil and bucolic.

Schuchmann boasts that “the climatic conditions are ideal” due to “the wine area {being} sheltered from cold air in the north by the Caucasus Mountains and warmed by the Black Sea.” Schuchmann grows indigenous grape varieties such as Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Ojaleshi, and Kisi for their winemaking.  Our very generous host was Schuchmann’s winemaker who provided each of us with a bottle of 2011 Vinoterra Kisi to take home.

Schuchmann is committed to continuing the Georgian tradition of producing qvevri wines. This wine production method dates back thousands of years and lends testimony to Georgia’s claim as the oldest winegrowing country in the world and the origin for all cultivated grapevines. The qvevri or large clay vessels are placed in the cool ground and filled with grapes hand-picked from Schuchmann’s own vineyards. The entire part of the grape (skin, seeds, some stems and, of course the juice) is crushed and left to rest and ferment in the qvevri. In white wine production, as with the bottle of Schuchmann Kisi I was given, the qvevri’s opening is sealed with a stone slab, clay and ash and left to mature for up to six months. During our tour, we tenderly step around both empty qvevri and sealed ones which lined the floor of one of the storage rooms adjacent to the Château.

Scrub brushes made cherry bark folded and secured atop long wooden poles are used to clean the qvevri without the need of any toxic chemicals. To those interested in the Natural Wine movement, qvevri symbolize the epitome of natural wine production. Makers of qvevri wine claim that it is stable by nature, rich in tannins and doesn’t require chemical preservatives to ensure a long storage life. Qvevri also produce wines rich in antioxidants. Many Georgians are known to live well past 100 years of age, so maybe Georgian qvevri wine can trump St. Augustine, Florida as the “true” source of legendary fountain of youth!

Before I leave Schuchmann, I have to speak to my gifted bottle of Kisi. Their Kisi is a beautiful, golden color with a fragrant fruit scent and soft palate. They attribute ripe peaches, dates and “a subtle note of pine” to their Kisi wine which is much more eloquently put. I also think it’s a grape variety name that’s both super easy to remember and fun to say – “Kisi!”

Photo taken by Chateau Mere

We did not spend the night at Schuchmann, but rather traveled not far by bus to Chateau Mere ( which is an eclectically-decorated, oversized Georgian B&B. Our bus gingerly climbed the steep, but paved entry-drive. Owner, George Piradashvili, greeted us at the front door, quickly got us checked in and had his young male employees help us carry our bags up the winding staircase.  Each room was different and tucked away in all sorts of nook, crannies, floors, turrets and out-buildings on the Chateau Mere grounds.










The big, oval, dinner tables were filled with fresh and delicious local fare. We ate family-style passing each plate around the table, then around again for seconds. The fancy, yet kitschy candelabras dripped and glowed in the center of each table as the courses continued to flow from the kitchen non-stop. Two gentlemen provided live piano and trumpet music for us. They were like our two, drunk and happy uncles playing all our favorite Georgian melodies.  A few locals and friends of George were hanging-out and joined in, singing with the music as the mood struck them!

A fire blazed in the large fireplace as George’s huge black dog curled-up and slept on the hearth through the all the noisey goings-on.  It was so entertaining and fabulous…and oh yes, the wine flowed! Bottles of George’s own wine was served and savored by all!  George also owns and breeds horses, so each of his bottles is emblazened with a black stallion. It was warm, cozy, raucous fun – a perfect ending to a perfect day! Tim and I were in a room with two twin beds, but didn’t mind at all – we made the most of it! I remember hearing the party continuing downstairs and then ZONK! — nothing, but happy dreamland ‘til morning!


Our room – Photo taken by Chateau Mere

My advice for a wine-weekend get-away, — really GET AWAY, experience the extraordinary, explore the world!  Everyone should visit our own American wonders of Napa and Sonoma at least once, but don’t get stuck in a comfortable rut.  Georgia is amazing and so welcoming – it requires extra effort and time, but you’ll be so glad you ventured out of your normal wine realm!

Disclosure: I tasted the wines of Georgia as a part of a sponsored blogger tour of the region, organized by  Georgian Wine Association.  My travel and accommodations were provided by the sponsor. Even so, I tell no lie…it was fabulous! 

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