Our grapes grow on Trialeti terroirs, central part of Georgia. A fabulous drop of the high mountain woodlands end with a plateau 800 meters above the sea level, where a beautiful vineyard grows on the northern rises of Trialeti mountain range, just aside the Village Akhaltsikhe. This is a right-ward plateau of the Tedzami River, which is one of the right-hand connections to the River Mtkvari. Snowy tips of the Trialeti Mountains, as well as beautiful scenery of the Peaks of the Caucasus can be observed from this marvelous estate.
The Terroir has a long and unlimited exposure to the Sun. The soil is a mix of heavy and light clay, incredibly rich of limestone, with really scant water sources especially after mid-July. We grow 15 different grape varieties in these vineyards, of which Chinuri, Goruli Mtsvane, Shavkapito and Tavkveri are dominant.
An ancestral small vineyard in an actual village nearby includes several rare varieties.
Another right-hand connection of Mtkvari – a River Tana basin hosts beautiful village Tsedisi, near the city of Gori, and this is also a home to Wine Artisans – the natural wine association which has kicked off the natural wine movement in Kartli from 2013. Historically, these terroirs are considered number one wine-making destination in Kartli. The vineyard grows right in the bed of the Atreva River (a left-hand connection to Tana), and has Southern-exposed rocky mountain from one side, and the range of some low hills from the other. Well exposed to the Sun, the location is one of the very best in entire Ateni Valley. Super heavy clay soils guarantee the fullness of body in wines, while southern exposed rocks prolong the heat of the day in summer. We grow low numbers of many different varieties in this vineyard, and mostly use them for our wine-making experimentation.
Another tiny vineyard is located in Khashmi Village of Gareji lands, near Tbilisi, right in the bed of River Iori, gates for Kakheti. Rkatsiteli and Kakhuri Mtsvane casts are the only inhabitants of this excellent estate. The vineyard is about 50 year old, in an excellent shape.
Our outreach, as of an association, encompasses many other best vineyards country-wide. Sometimes we also buy grapes from these vineyards because in most cases we either manage the vineyards, or at least have years-long business relations and we know what we buy. Hence, we harvest grapes from Uroebi terroir in Bakurtsikhe/Kakheti; Tvishi/Lechkumi; Qveshi/Liakhvi Valley; Vaziani lands/Mukhrani; few other vineyards in Khashmi Village, etc.
We produce 100% natural dry orange and red wines with no artificial yeasts added (i.e. we rely exclusively on wild yeasts and on so called spontaneous fermentation), no additives, no sulfur and no filtering. Our low intervention philosophy starts from the vineyards and we actually try to stress the terroirs and varietal characters in our wines. We don’t spray our vineyards with systemic heavy chemicals but only use bio certified measures which never penetrate the surface of the leaf or the fruit. We don’t plow and cultivate land in the vineyards to let the soil fungi develop and give the terroir its best features. Instead, we just cut and leave grass in the vineyard, and just add a little bit of organic fertilizer (cow manure) every 4-5 years. And, believe us, we know these cows as well. We know how they were fed and maintained, in which conditions, and which terroirs. We make sure to avoid just any industrial chemistry trick not only in our vineyards but also in the lands around.
Our main cellar lays in the Village Tsedisi, near Gori. It is a two store, four compartment serious underground construction, in the best version of tradition. We created this cellar having particular vision of natural wine making, and it serves us a good job. Wines go through four main phases in the cellar, ruled by the laws of knowledge, hygiene, and patience. We never “rush” our wines, and never sell unfinished wines. Wine is what makes us proud.
After harvest, wines spend 8 to 9 months in Qvevri (traditional clay jars dug in the earth). This method, as you probably know, had been practiced on the territory of Georgia for more than 80 centuries, and is proved to be the most ancient case of wine making technology in the world history. We let wine ferment in Qvevri (with skins and sometimes with stems as well – when the stems are also “ripe”) and after fermentation we move wine to another Qvevri without the must (the skins) and let it continue vinification through winter and beyond. After 8-9 months in Qvevri, we bring wine down to special storage space 6 meters below the ground level and leave it there for another 1 year in stainless vessels but also in old oak barrels sometimes, when we think the level of micro-oxidation was not enough in Qvevri. As a result, some of our wines may spend 2 or 3 months in old oak barrels (French oak. The barrels we bring from Burgundy have been in use during 6-7 years before). After oak barrels, wines go back to stainless steel tanks and stay there till next April. We keep racking wine 4-5 times in the storage room to have them naturally “filtered”.
After April (the second April now), when the wines have already achieved the age of 1 year and 8 or 9 months, we bring them up in another compartment of the cellar, to get them ready for bottling. The final “quiescent” period lasts from 3 to 5 months, depending on specific wine, and bottling normally happens between June and August when the wines are already about 2 year old. We continue to monitor bottled wines for another few months and only when we get assured that they have reached the stability point (i.e. they don’t alter any more, and easily withstand transportation), we start sales.
Each year, we make 6-7-8 different wines. Normally, it can be a mono- cépage or a blend. We never make coupage of the ready wines. And we make only dry wines.
Because we have only very limited production (less than 5 thousand bottles annually) we hardly ever retail our wines. Instead, we sell them locally in our premises (wine tourism has been flourishing in Georgia for the last few years) and export (so far only in Belgium and Czech Republic). Our export volumes have never exceeded 600 bottles per shipment. Prices normally vary from 7 to 18 euros – depending on the quality and vintage.
Andro Barnovi is the founder and host wine maker at “Wine Artisans”. Andro is 46, with fantastic career background as an academician, statesman and politician, he decided to quit it all in 2016 and do what every single male in his family has once done – completely devote himself to winemaking. He founded Wine Artisans to connect with peer winemakers throughout the country, and makes some of the best natural wines around. You can connect with Andro personally on Facebook, or reach out to Wine Artisans via Facebook or Instagram.