Georgian Government Predicts Strong Grape Harvest

As Georgia approaches the mid-point of August, the grape harvest nears. Called rtveli in Georgian, the harvest usually begins in the first days of September, starting from the south eastern tip of the Kakheti region, Georgia’s cradle of wine, and spreading west through the wine-producing regions of Shida Kartli, Racha, and Imereti until late October. The National Wine Agency has already met with the Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture to discuss the upcoming harvest with stakeholders and begin logistical preparations for the 2019 vintage.

Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture, Levan Davitashvili, told winemakers that, as a result of cooperation between the state and the private sector, his ministry anticipates a smooth, successful harvest.

“This year we are expecting a pretty good harvest both in qualitative and quantitative terms. All the innovations that will be in the vintage this year are aimed at better accounting for, registering and tracing the grapes, that will contribute to high quality wine production. Working on the quality of Georgian wine is a permanent and irreversible process. Consequently, the ministry will carry out more active work in terms of quality control and monitoring after the vintage is completed,” said Davitashvili.

Chairman of the National Wine Agency, Levan Mekhuzla, described the technical details that winemakers need to be aware of this year. He explained the procedural issues of the grape storage facilities provided by the agency, coordinated by a Harvest Headquarters, which generally begins operating around the end of August and aims to promote the organization of the harvest and to ensure accountability and traceability, supporting high quality production.

An important change from last year – in 2018, the National Wine Agency registered only Saperavi grapes delivered to wineries, and in 2019 they will register all varieties. “This year, during [the] vintage, Kindzmarauli, Akhasheni, Mukuzani and Kvareli micro-zone grapes will be delivered only on the basis of vineyard cadastral extract...for quality assurance of wine, the quantity of grapes delivered from these micro-zones, like the experience of other wine producing countries, was set at no more than 10 tons per hectare. Grapes over 10 tons and with no cadastral extracts will be considered as varietal wine color materials,” announced the National Wine Agency. To certify the cadastral extract, grape growers should apply to their municipal governments before September 1.

The National Wine Agency has also implemented a new policy of quality control this year. In July, the agency visited 20 alcoholic beverage factories and tested 100 wine samples. All of the samples “complied with the physicochemical characteristics of the wines listed in the laboratory protocol” and were awarded certificates of quality. “Quality control is one of the top priorities of the National Wine Agency. In recent years, work has intensified in this direction, which is a constant irreversible process,” says the agency.

Wine continues to be one of Georgia’s key exports. In the first seven months of 2019, wine exports increased by 4% and income from exports increased by 6%. 47.2 million bottles of Georgian wine have been sold to 47 countries so far this year. The biggest increases were in France (143%), the United States (60%), Israel (51%), Lithuania (41%), the United Kingdom (39%), Mongolia (35%), and China (21%). The top five countries that import Georgian wine are Russia, Ukraine, China, Poland, and Kazakhstan.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: National Wine Agency

12 August 2019 15:55