One of the top things I wanted to do in Georgia was to taste the local wine. I had sampled it while in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and really loved the dry red wines. In the UK, we tend to have more of the sweet red wines from Georgia. For the best wine, one should travel to Kakheti in the east of the country. Kakheti is the main wine area of the country, although there is also wine along the west coast and through the centre of the country.
In the Kakheti region, Telavi is the capital and Signagi (or Sighnaghi) are two towns worth visiting. Of course, visiting some wineries is a highlight. The aging process of the wine is very unique. They keep the wine in earth pottery underground. Unsurprisingly, the earthy taste is distinct in the traditional wines. In addition, the “white wines” are called amber wines because they become a darker colour from the pottery. Finally, the chacha is a grape liquor similar to grappa, and it is strong stuff!
- Bodbe’s St. Nino’s Convent
- Ziplining over the Alazani Canyon
- Signaghi and walking around the old fortress and walls
- Wine tasting – especially try the traditional wine aged in earthen pottery
- 24-hour marriage palace სიღნაღის ქორწინების სახლი – Note that divorces are only allowed on the 13th of each month!
- Telavi, the capital of Kakheti
Before you go
- Take cash for tips and because the small shops for bread and other local specialties do not accept credit cards
- You will need a car or tour to see the area because there is no public transport
- Lunch is often later in the afternoon in Georgia so take snacks if you tend to get hungry earlier
- Wear good shoes for walking on stone roads and the Signagi fortress walls
- For transport, I booked a small group tour with Imperial Tours Georgia. It was a lot of fun with about 18 other friendly people. The tour guide speaks Georgian, English and Russian, at a minimum. From Tbilisi, the travel time is about 1.5 hours each way.
- I didn’t stay overnight. Kakheti is about 2 hours drive from Tbilisi on a mix of highways and windy mountain roads
First, we stopped at Nato and Gio, a small shop and vineyard. They were selling churchkhela, a string of nuts dipped in a grape juice mixture. It’s a chewy candy that looks more like a candle or sausage. In addition, they had glass or plastic bottles of wine, chacha liquor, and tklapi, dried pressed fruit which is like a fruit roll-up.
Second, we stopped at a shop that sold fresh cheese and freshly baked bread. I have no idea about the name but it was in Badiauri. The cheese reminded me of less salty feta cheese. And the bread was flat and crunchy on the outside.
When we reached Telavi, we walked to the Sekhnika Winery, which was located right next to a restaurant. First, we did some wine and chacha tasting. We had red, rose and amber wines. I liked the red Saperavi. It is a dry and earthy red wine. The dry amber wine called Kisi was also really nice. I bought a few bottles to take home. We had peach chacha with pickles on the side. The peach flavour and sweetness made the strong liquor more drinkable than the straight chacha.
After the wine tasting, we had lunch at Restaurant Wineland Telavi. The prices were so reasonable for the amount of delicious food! I had Chiburekki, deep fried beef pastry rolls, Tolmas, vine leaves with meat and rice, and Chvishtari, corn and cheese bread. Lots of food and all very tasty! I sat with a Polish guy and a Russian lady and we all shared food.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: Yes, it is better to go with a guide to learn about the area and for transport
Q: Do people speak English?
A: No, not all people at the small shops speak English. However, the tour guide will speak English and usually Russian too
Q: Is it a walkable place?
A: No, it is a large area so you need a car or bus to get around
Go to Georgia
Go to Country Map