Adjara wine region
This region is famous for its beautiful sunsets at the beaches of Batumi, Kvariati, Gonio, Sarpi, Kobuleti and Chakvi, medieval arch bridges lost in the local jungles, the most delicious calorie bomb in the Universe called Adjaruli Khachapuri, juicy tangerines, strong tobacco, aromatic honey which is good for making both baklava and “otka” (vodka).
Picked in the vineyards of Khelvachauri, Keda and Vaio, the local grapes were turned into wine by people who worked various jobs, cherished their love of wine for all their life, and made a leap of faith towards the ocean of the winemaking world.
Adjara is really not the region you think about, once you think Georgian wine. It’s hard to compete with well-known Kakheti, but we want to bust the myth of “no good wine in Adjara” and introduce you to several local wineries.
Grape growing areas:
Surroundings of Kobuleti – Buknari, Kvirike, Achi. The soil is red there, and the subtropical humidity much higher than in the mountains. Mountainous Adjara – from Khelvachauri through Keda to Khulo. The grapes grow at the elevation of 500-800 meters a.s.l. there, with slopes more dramatic than around Kobuleti.
Main grape varieties:
White: Tsolikouri (however, Chkhaveri without skins ican be pale rose or light amber!) Red: Chkhaveri, Aladasturi, Ojaleshi, Satsuri (endemic Adjarian grape, very rare), Mtevandidi
Vines are typically trained on pergolas up to 4 meters tall. Qvevri is called churi, as in the rest of Western Georgia, but is not used too often because of high humidity that can damage the wine. The wineries often use stainless steel vessels (however you can see the infamous plastic barrels used for fermentation in the home-based cellars - those that are not making wine for sale in the proper shops). No oak barrels spotted in the wineries so far.
Traditional food and products:
Sinori - tender curd rolls baked in thin lavash with butter and cheese
Borano – cheese fried in butter
Kuruti - dried curds (or very fat and smooth cream called kaimaghi) - a good snack for a long trip, a typical warrior snack
Fried fish – trout, mullet, mackerel, plaice
Tangerine jam - the most popular variety includes the whole baby tangerines, but there are also more practical versions
Chestnut honey from the mountainous part
Adjarian baklava (the wet one; pakhlava is considered to be dry) Coffee brewed on hot sand - a variation on the classical Turkish coffee ceremony with jezzve
Adjaruli Khachapuri - of course, how we could avoid mentioning the dish that made the headlines in the gastronomic columns of world media! The shape of the khachapuri is really inspired by the typical Laz flatboats (Lazs are the old aboriginal folk of South-Western Georgia and North-Western Turkey). Those boats could go anywhere, even when the water level near the seashore or in the river was low.
Tsolikouri - Khimshiashvilebis Marani. The cellar is Buknari, but the vineyard is located in Keda, grown at 800 meters above sea level - and Nugzar Khimshiashvili is driving there for 1.5 hours to take care of the wines. Vitali, his son, used to study in London and work in Gulf before he decided to come back and help the family. Once you visit the winery, it will probably be Vitali, who'll take care of you - Nugzar is pretty much busy, doing two jobs: he is a vet, and well, a winemaker!
Chkhaveri - Merab and Giorgi Takidze. The family grows grapes in Tsoniarisi Village, Keda. While Merab started his home winery in 2010, only now the family came up to create a brand for it. Giorgi is working hard to develop what his father started, and he even got an award at the Keda Wine Festival in 2019.
Rkatsiteli & Gareula - Ramaz Zakaradze's Marani. A curious blend of a Kakhetian variety with a wild-growing cultivated grape from Khelvachauri, made by Ramaz - a deeply spiritual winemaker based in Batumi. You can visit his cellar, once you are there - the cellar's name is Khvtisana.
Tsolikouri from Vaio - Jamal Biyachuev's Winery. Based in Mirveti, Jamal is working with Adjarian and Western Georgian varieties. This Tsolikouri is a purely Adjarian one, from Vaio village in Keda municipality. We recommend paying a visit to the winery one day - it's located in a very picturesque place, and the tasting rooms looks like a bear's den - a very cozy one!
Aladasturi - Jamal Biyachuev's Winery. In this case, you can see how an Imeretian variety behaves on the Adjarian soil. We liked the intensity of the fruit a lot!
Taoskari - Ramaz Zakaradze. A big surprise from the historical province of Georgia, Tao-Klarjeti. Ramaz has got this vine from there and he's eager to grow and produce more of it! A truly unique amber wine. We have never tasted something like this before!