If you love wine and Georgia hasn’t made your travel bucket list yet, all I can say is you screwed up. Fortunately, it’s never too late to change that. Because Georgian wine is – and has been – for a while. In 2021 alone, Georgia exported 107 million bottles of wine to 62 countries around the world.
About 70% of Georgia’s grapes come from one particular region. A region home to around 200 grape varieties, including Rkatsiteli, Kakhetian Mtsvane, Khikhvi, Kisi and Saperavi, and where winemaking traditions date back 8,000 years.
But it’s not just the wine that draws people to Kakheti. Kakheti’s unique natural landscape, ancient fortresses and towers, alpine lakes and hidden waterfalls add to the allure. Mix in world-class hotels, a can’t-miss classical music festival, and some of the friendliest locals you’ll find anywhere, and you’ve got a rich and beautiful place to spend a few days in Georgia. .
Kakheti is one of those places that mark you. Or at least a hangover.
Nearly two hours by car from Tbilisi, over the sometimes perilous Gombori pass, or the long way with a detour via Sighnaghi, you find yourself in the heart of the Georgian wine region. Here’s what to know about Kakheti, Georgia’s famous wine region, before you go.
Where to stay in Kakheti
While wine is the main attraction in Kakheti, these three hotels stand out in the region.
The Tsinandali estate, a Radisson Collection hotel
Tsinandali Estate is not just a hotel. It’s an experience. And stepping into Prince Alexander Chavchavadze’s personal wine cellar is proof of that. A cellar that houses more than 15,000 bottles of wine dating back to 1814.
While staying at the hotel, be sure to also visit Prince Alexander Chavchavadze’s Tsinandali Palace Museum and see how the family lived before learning even more about how they began to make their living. own wine more than 230 years ago. The estate is full of history and appeal unlike any other experience in Georgia.
Tip: The Tsinandali Festivalheld every September, is one of the best classical music festivals in the world and is not to be missed.
Telavi Town Hall
One of the newest hotels to open in Telavi, Communal Hotel is a 12-room boutique hotel located in the heart of Telavi, the capital of Kakheti.
With a limited number of rooms, each with its own unique touch — from clawfoot tubs to balconies overlooking the cobbled street below — the vibe at Communal is as good as it gets. During the summer months, the hotel’s swimming pool is a great place to escape the heat, while the restaurant’s Georgian breakfast is the best you’ll find this side of the Alazani.
Tip: You won’t find a better breakfast than the one served at the hotel restaurant, Doli.
Lost Ridge Inn Brewery and Ranch
From wine to food and beers, few places in Sighnaghi offer an experience quite like Lost Ridge Inn. With every detail carefully prepared and each meal even more thoughtful than the last, there is always something to see, do and eat while visiting.
Ride horseback through the surrounding hills or hang out with the master brewer before exploring the surrounding vineyards and tasting rooms, including those below.
Tip: Even though this is wine country, the inn’s micro-brewed beers are one of the highlights of your stay here. Book the Archaeological Suite for an even more special experience.
The best wine tastings in Kakheti
While you can’t go wrong with wine tasting in Kakheti, these are the ones you shouldn’t miss. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly experience or want to learn more about the country’s best natural wines, these places have it all.
Crazy Pomegranate Vineyard and Tasting Room
Overlooking the vineyard and with the Greater Caucasus Mountains looming in the distance, Crazy Pomegranate Winery and Tasting Room is one of the best experiences for anyone wanting to learn more about natural winemaking. Ask about Georgia’s unique qvevri vessels (the traditional clay pots that Georgians have been making wine in for centuries) and pair the experience with locally sourced and foraged dishes that will make you want to move to Georgia. Georgia in no time.
Tip: If you’re traveling in a small group and can’t make the 10-person minimum at Crazy Pomegranate, head to Pheasant’s Tears Restaurant in Sighnaghi instead.
Togonidze wine cellar
It’s not just Togonidze’s wine that will make your jawbone crack. The fusion of Asian and Georgian foods, along with the art everywhere you look, will leave you enthralled and curious for more. And that’s what brings people back time and time again to Togonidze – there’s also something new to taste and to see.
Spend the afternoon with the husband and wife duo who organize the wine tastings and end your evening with a stop at the Marleta farm, where you can continue drinking Gia Togonidze’s wine, but this time accompanied by cheeses from European style.
Tip: Gia Togonidze is fluent in German in addition to Georgian. Hire an English-speaking translator (and driver) to get the full experience.
There are certain places you walk into and immediately feel like family. It’s one of them. Warm, welcoming and with cutting edge Georgian hospitality, sip wine in the marani garden (wine cellar) and help the ladies in the open kitchen. Dine around a traditional Blue Supra tablecloth and learn not only about the wine, but also about the unique history of this region from the people whose families have called this area home for generations.
Tip: History buffs will especially appreciate this 20and century Kakheti style castle museum.
Bonus: Eliminate your hangover with a local nature activist
Wine, dine and rewind. But not without a little nature hike somewhere in between. Don’t worry, there is still house wine waiting for you at the end of this walk.
Take a nature walk with NatureHistory Founder Kakhaber Sukhitashvili
Kakhaber Sukhitashvili’s mission is to make eco-tourism more accessible and sustainable for the communities in the region who could benefit the most by helping them to develop and understand the importance of the areas they inhabit.
Choose from several walking routes and spend the morning exploring ancient ruins and vineyards dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There may even be homemade wine, locally sourced honey and fresh puri (bread) waiting for you at the end of the hike.
Tip: Sukhitashvili works with local “ambassadors” in each village and region where he works. Bring a small gift to exchange with this local ambassador who will surely load you up with homemade wine and honey (or other small treats) when you leave.