New Research by PNAS Proves Georgia to be the Cradle of Wine

LONDON, November 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

GEORGIAN WINES ARE THE OLDEST WINES IN THE WORLD 

The Georgians were producing and enjoying wine in the Caucasus as far back as the Neolithic period (6000-5800 BC), new research released today by PNAS* reveals. These are the earliest tangible signs of viticulture and wine-making ever discovered, some 600-1,000 years older than the previous recorded discovery of Hajji Firuz Tepe, in the Zagros mountain region of Iran.

The evidence was obtained by applying state-of-the-art technology to newly excavated materials from two sites in Georgia, with an international team led by Patrick McGovern, Scientific Director at Pennsylvania University, also known as the “Indiana Jones of ancient wine”.

Georgia which borders the Black Sea and is situated at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia, is noted for its dynamic, traditional winemaking activity. The country attracts interest from wine-lovers and professionals alike.

Today Georgia remains faithful to its ancient traditions of making wine in qvevri, large ceramic pots which are buried underground, creating distinctive ‘amber’ wines. UNESCO has included this unique traditional method in its Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) list.

Most recently, Georgia’s ancient wine culture was celebrated at Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin, a facility dedicated to the living heritage of wine, which hosted a special ‘Georgia, cradle of viticulture’ exhibition as its first “Guest Wine Region”. Produced by the Georgian State, Georgian National Museum of Tbilisi and the Georgian Wine Association, it showcased 125 works of art and period photographs from the Georgian National Museum collections. The exhibition, which reveals Georgian mythology, folklore, art and dining traditions of which wine is a fundamental part, is likely to tour to other cities across the globe.

*PNAS Publication

Early Neolithic Wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus
By Patrick McGovern, Mindia Jalabadze, Stephen Batiuk, Michael P. Callahan, Karen E. Smith, Gretchen R. Hall, Eliso Kvavadze, David Maghradze, Nana Rusishvili, Laurent Bouby, Osvaldo Failla, Gabriele Cola, Luigi Mariani, Elisabetta Boaretto, Roberto Bacilieri, Patrice This, Nathan Wales, David Lordkipanidze.

Universities of Montpellier, Pennsylvania, Copenhagen, Milan, Toronto, INRA Montpellier, EHESS, CERCEC, Scientific Research Centre of Agriculture of Georgia, Georgian National Museum

The Neolithic period was a time of great changes across the globe:  

6100 BC – Storegga Slide causes a mega-tsunami in Norwegian Sea
6000 BC – Doggerland, the land bridge connecting England with Europe disappears into the sea
5677 BC – volcanic eruption on Mount Mazama creates Oregon’s Crater Lake
5600 BC – Red Paint People established in area from present-day Labrador to New York state
Late 6th and early 5th millennium BC – start of the Samara culture in middle Volga, Russia
5500 BC – start of Xinle culture in China

 

– Many linguists believe that the word ‘wine’ is rooted in the word ‘ghvino’, which means wine in Georgian.

– Both the traditional polyphonic Georgian song and the country’s alphabet are UNESCO listed, alongside of course the traditional Georgian qvevri wine-making method.

– With a variety of climate zones ranging from alpine to subtropical and semi-desert, Georgia is known as one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world.

Georgia has a booming fashion scene; Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is its premier fashion event held twice a year.

Georgia native Demna Gvasalia is artistic director of Balenciaga; he’s also co-founder of cult fashion label Vetements.

– Singer, songwriter and musician Katie Melua was born in Georgia. In 2016 she recorded ‘Winter in Tbilisi‘ with the Gori Women’s Choir and did a European tour.

Georgia has a very strong rugby tradition with its team travelling across the globe to play international matches.  The logo on the official Georgian national team’s shirts is a grape shoot.

Visiting Georgia from the UK 

Tbilisi, Georgia 
Georgian Airways (georgian-airways.com) direct from London Gatwick to Tbilisi International Airport.

Wizz Air (wizzair.com) flies from Luton to Kutaisi, 150 miles north-west of Tbilisi.

Tbilisi highlights 
The Mtkvari river divides this city of 1.5 million people. On the right bank, Old Tbilisi is a hub for many visitors, with some of the city’s most compelling historical sights, cafes and bars, enticing side streets and standout museums nearby. Mtkvari’s more workaday left side are the atmospheric Bazroba central market and the arty Fabrika boutique and dining hub.

– Visit the city’s churches, such as the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi or the Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary, which dates back to the sixth century.

– Music lovers should try to see a performance of a Georgian vocal group and visit the State Museum of Georgian Folk Songs and Musical Instruments.

– For views of the city, take the cable car from Rike Park to Narikala Fortress.

– Visit the Orbeliani baths – public baths, follow in the footsteps of Pushkin and Dumas.

– National Museum – pre-Christian gold jewellery and other ancient objects on display on the lower-ground floor. Upstairs, an exhibition on Soviet rule in Georgia from 1921-91.

– Botanical gardens – the former royal pleasure grounds, where locals hold picnics and wedding photoshoots.

– Eating and drinking – the Old Town is a good spot for coffee houses, bars and cafes with live jazz; try traditional Georgian cuisine at Kartuli Sakhli and Tsiskvili.

Shopping
Fabrika for locally made rugs with traditional designs; delicately patterned tablecloths with indigenous motifs. Look out for minankari, the revived ancient art of enamelled jewellery.

Browse the riverside bookstalls and the flea market finds by the Saarbruecken Bridge

For further information & images: Joanna Sykes-Darmon joanna.sykes-darmon@sopexa.com 020 7312 3619