New Wine Festival
Grapevines have been cultivated on the territory of Georgia in the wild form since ancient times. More than 500 Georgian species of Vitis vinifera are described in Georgia and about 430 of them are saved in state and private collection vineyards.
Georgia’s 8000-year-old close connection with viticulture and winemaking has been proved by various archeological discoveries. For instance, grape-seeds are discovered which date back to the 6th millennium B.C. The ancient Qvevri-like pot of the Neolith Era found at Shulaver is a clear proof of the long-existing wine-making traditions in the area.
Since the pagan times, wine had always been a ritual beverage for Georgians. Ancient Georgians believed that the productivity god Aguna was the patron saint of viticulture and Aguna rituals were always presented as theatrical performances. The importance of wine has even strengthened with the spread of Christianity as the communion rituals would never proceed without wine. Later a cross made out of vine branches became a symbol of Christianity in Georgia. Almost all local monasteries organized their own wine cellars and made wine based on the traditional method.
The 19th century was a significant period for the Georgian wine-making when Alexandre Chavchavadze for the first time made the Georgian wine in European style and popularized it in Europe. He is also known for promoting several local wines. In the same period, the German wine specialist Lenz researched wine in the Georgian village of Ruispiri. Scientific study of the Georgian grapevines began from the mid-19th century. From the same period, the Georgian wine produced by Ivane Mukhran-Batoni had already been exported to Europe. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Georgian winemaking occupied a significant place at wine festivals held in Europe. Today, the Georgian wine is becoming more and more recognizable. There is a particular interest in Qvevri-made wine.
It is noteworthy that UNESCO assigned the status of National Monument of Intangible Cultural Heritage to the ancient Georgian tradition of Qvevri winemaking.
The New Wine Festival is held in Tbilisi on an annual basis and its main goal is to popularize the Georgian wine, raise awareness about wine and increase the consumer culture in Georgia. Large wine companies, medium-sized and small wineries, family wine-cellars from various regions of Georgia are presented at the Festival and introduce the best wines produced from the last year grape yield to the Festival participants.
Since 2010, the Festival becomes more large-scale on an annual basis, new family wine cellars and wine companies appear and introduce their products.
Due to the situation created in the world, the 11th "Online New Wine Festival" was held in December 2020 under absolutely different conditions, in a different format and concept.
The Festival promises the guests to introduce new wines, hundreds of wines produced from the last year grape yield (2020) and their authors and discover new tastes.
The main idea of the New Wine Festival is promotion of the traditional Georgian Qvevri wine, discovery of new species and places, raising awareness about wine in Georgia and increasing consumer culture. It provides an opportunity to the participant to meet restaurant owners and find channels for sale of their products in the future.
The main activity is to become familiarized with and taste new wine. Folk songs, dances, and traditional cuisine are presented. Gift barrels full of the best wine are raffled at the festival. The visitors can explore cultural and natural values – the exhibits presented in the Museum of Ethnography and/or the Botanical Garden. There is a lack of performances for children, which is uncomfortable for families visiting together with their children.
Experiential and interactive activities
In 2018, the New Wine Festival starts with the traditional ceremony of opening the Qvevri, accompanied by the song "Mravaljamieri". As a rule, this Qvevri contains best wine made in the family wine-cellar selected by the Wine Club.
At the festival, a separate space is allocated for familiarization with traditions of Qvevri making and conducting pottery masterclasses. The wine enterprises and restaurants offer tasting of Georgian dishes.
The New Wine Festival is held in a traditional format and artistic innovations are less presented onsite.
Main features and services that attract public
Appeal of the New Wine Festival is diversity and discovery of new tastes. At the same time, during the meeting with wine producers we can learn more about the wine which we taste and like.
The festival has an educational and marketing importance – promotion of the Georgian wine, raising recognizability of the Georgian wine and consumer culture in Georgia. The festival contributes to cooperation between restaurant owners and winemakers.
Key partners and supporters
Partner of the event is Tbilisi City Hall, Museum of Ethnography (Association of Museums), Mtatsminda Park, National Parliamentary Library of Georgia. Wine bar – g.vino, and wine shop chain - 8000 Vintages - also joined as partners.
Participants, local community and customer segment
The event participants are large, medium and small wine-makers from various regions, associations and state organizations, product and souvenir producers from various regions, as well as bookstores where publications about wine are presented.
In addition to wine producers, the festival is attended by Georgian and foreign wine professionals, wine writers, wine bar-restaurants and amateurs. Traditionally, the well-known wine masters, sommeliers, importers and wine writers know the date of the New Wine Festival and prepare for meeting the Georgian wines.
Communication and dissemination channels
Information about the festival is disseminated on TV and via Internet. Information support is provided by "Marani" (vinoge.com), Wine Information Center, Radio "Utsnobi".
Specific elements and features
Location of the festival is known and does not require to be informed additionally in detail. Practical information is published on the festival website. Transport is provided for arriving at the festival. A large space is selected for the festival venue where it is possible to arrive by transport. Persons with disabilities can also move in this space.
Liaison with other activities and events of the Black Sea Basin region
Wine tourism as the mechanism of revival, preservation of local traditions and valorization of the traditional product is popular in the countries selected within the framework of the Black Sea Basin project.
Pottery production and wine-making traditions are important for tours of all countries. Rituals related to wine-making reflect the culture and everyday life of the country well. Considering that Samtskhe-Javakheti borders with Armenia and Turkey, trans-border cultural route dedicated to pottery and wine has a development potential. It is possible to develop tourist routes between these regions in the future. Therefore, inclusion of the event in wine route will facilitate promotion of the service providers and achievement of the festival goals.
Image Sources: Dusheti Municipality City Hall