Discover Tbilisi’s Orthodox cathedrals, ancient fortress, colourful balconies and hidden courtyards on a walking tour, then cap off the day with a visit to the country’s premier sparkling wine house.. Admire vistas of lush valleys and the Caucasus Mountains on a visit to the hilltop town of Sighnaghi, where you can take in beautiful views while hoping between natural wineries.. Discover the secret to making Georgian-style bread and the sweet local delicacy churchkhela when you stop in for lunch with a local family in Sighnaghi.. Learn the role the Georgian royal family historically played in cultivating Georgia’s renowned winemaking legacy with tasting visits to two royal estates that double as respected wineries.
Immerse yourself in the 8000-year-old winemaking culture of Georgia on this eight-day adventure. Discover how wine is inextricably linked with Georgia’s history while you drop by family cellars, tour royal-estates-turned-wineries and taste your way around the renowned Kvareli region. Witness the beauty of the country’s rugged Caucasus Mountains and fertile valleys, which not only make for beautiful scenery but also form the ideal environment for grape cultivation. Add hearty food, a burgeoning art scene and well-preserved historic towns and you have all the makings of an unforgettable journey.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 5
Welcome to Georgia, the beautiful birthplace of wine. Your grape-filled adventure begins in Tbilisi, the country’s vibrant capital. Get started with a 6 pm welcome meeting where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. After this important meeting, get your first taste of Georgia’s fantastic food scene with a group dinner and wine tasting. There’s a good change the drops you’ll sample will be made using traditional Georgian methods – some of the country’s best winemakers use large, egg-shaped earthenware vessels called qvevri to ferment their wines which results in an earthy, unoaked drop. If you arrive early, perhaps visit some of the city’s diverse museums, such as the Museum of Georgia or the National History Museum, for some insight on Georgia’s long and varied history.
Get to know Georgia’s biggest city and on a city tour. Beginning at Metekhi Church, set out on foot and explore the Old Town’s twisting maze of narrow alleys, where elegant balconies look down over colourful old residences and doorways leads to hidden courtyards. Check out the main sights including the Georgian Orthodox Sioni Cathedral and Narikala, an ancient fortress overlooking the town. After the walking tour, enjoy some free time to further explore on your own and seek out some lunch. Meet back with the group in the afternoon for a tasting visit to Bagrationi 1882, the leading sparkling wine house in the country. Its distinguished history dates back to 1882 (of course), when Georgian nobleman Ivane Bagrationi of Mukhraneli began producing sparkling wine using the classic bottle fermentation method. Here, you’ll get the chance to sample five different sparkling wines.
Set out for the centre of Georgian wine country – the Kakheti region. In addition to producing some of the country’s finest wines, Kakheti is home to fertile valleys, picturesque towns, beautiful churches and an incredible monastery complex. Take a 2-hour drive to your first stop, the hilltop town of Sighnaghi. Established in the 18th century as a refuge against attack, Sighnaghi is surrounded by a stone wall – one of the longest in Georgia – with 23 towers and six gates. Stretch your legs on a walking tour, taking in the brightly painted balconies and 11th-century Monastery of Bodbe, where the grave of venerated Saint Nino lies. Visit a local family at lunchtime to bake some bread and make churckhela (a local sweet), then enjoy a homemade meal and wine. Keep the good times rolling with a visit to Khareba Winery to taste some local varieties. Later, settle into your hotel and enjoy an included dinner.
This morning make tracks for the 11th-century Alaverdi Cathedral, which was the highest religious building in Georgia until 2004. Snack on some local matsoni yoghurt, then meet a local craftsman who makes the qvevri vessels used to ferment traditional wine. Next up is Tsinandali, a royal-estate-turned-museum with beautiful gardens and a renowned on-site winery. Follow this with a visit to a family-run Kondoli Wine Cellar, where you can taste drops made using the qvevri method demonstrated earlier. Finish up your wine intensive with a visit to Mosmieri Kakheti Wine Centre, for lunch and a tasting of some more Georgian tipples. It is a fitting place to end today’s wine tour – Mosmieri is an ancient Georgian word which roughly translates as ‘someone who will love wine for eternity’. Enjoy an included dinner tonight.
Spend the morning exploring the lively farmer’s market in Telavi, then return to Tbilisi. Visit a local enamel studio and learn about the centuries-old decorative technique of minakari. The afternoon is free for you to explore or relax at your leisure. Perhaps visit the ancient bath districts for a soak in the elegant sulfar pools of Chreli Abano and Spa. Tonight, maybe seek out some comforting Georgian staples like khinkali (juicy dumplings stuffed with meat or cheese) or khachapuri (open cheese pie). Ask your leader for tips on where to go. If khinkali is on the agenda, your leader can also tell you the secret to eating this traditional dish without spilling its juicy filling.
Make sure your camera is charged and ready to go, as today you’ll visit not one, not two, but three World Heritage-listed sites. Begin with a visit to the Jvari Monastery. According to legend, a wooden cross was erected on this hilltop site after the kingdom converted to Christianity in the early fourth century. The cross was believed to work miracles, and the monastery was built in its place in the sixth century. Next, visit the 11th-century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a grand complex where the robe of Christ is believed to be buried. Complete the World Heritage trifecta with a visit to Gelati Monastery, one of the largest medieval Orthodox monasteries. Continue to Mukhrani, a village which contains the royal estate of nobleman Ivane Bagrationi of Mukhraneli, the prominent winemaking figure. Enjoy lunch and sample four of the estate’s wines. Spend the evening in Kutaisi.
There will be plenty of opportunity to sample fine Georgian drops on the last full day of your tour. This morning head to Sachkhere, a town on the edge of the Imereti Province, to visit an old family-owned wine cellar. The climate here in the highlands is well-suited to grapes that can’t be grown in other parts of the country. As a result, the wine is produced differently and has its own unique flavour. Learn some of the secrets to producing full-bodied, yellow Imeretian wine, then sit down to a lunch of roasted pork with a few glasses. Return to Tbilisi in the evening and enjoy dinner with your group.
Your wine adventure through Georgia comes to an end this morning. There are no activities planned for the day.