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Giorgi Samanishvili

Georgia’s Winemaking Business Suffers a Blow in 2015: Interview with Giorgi Samanishvili

What is the opinion of Georgian winemakers on the 2015 results? The year was quite problematic, they said. Besides Russian and Ukrainian markets, problems arose in Belarus and Kazakhstan too. The ongoing political and economic developments in these countries have already made negative effect on exports of Georgian products and revenues of winemaking companies.

CBW offers you an interview with Giorgi Samanishvili, the head of the National Wine Agency of Georgia

– How would you appraise the current year performance in the winemaking sector? What volume of wine products has Georgia exported in 2015? What is the current situation in the exports?

– The year of 2015 is not over yet, but the year may be appraised as successful, in general. The current year was positive, despite exports slowdownm, compared to 2014.

The year of 2015 has recorded a sharp downturn in our wine exports because of current economic processes in the Russian Federation and the hostilities in Ukraine.

Anyway, we have increased our exports to other markets. Despite certain problems, our exports to Kazakhstan grow stage by stage. Our exports grow to China, Poland and the Baltic countries. We have also penetrated new markets, Canada, Japan and the USA.

– Has these three countries balanced our exports contraction in the Russian and Ukrainian markets?

– Russia and Ukraine were main markets. Therefore, the 2015 exports indicators have slipped in terms of quantity. This year we have diversified exports markets. We export Georgian wines to 50 countries, but the field has already determined its strategic exports markets such as China, Poland, Great Britain and the USA. We will continue active efforts in these markets in 2016 too.

– Which markets will you make accent on and what volume of wines does the country plan to export to foreign markets in 2016?

 We will make focus on 4 markets in 2016, as determined by the marketing strategy. Moreover, we will also attend all influential exhibitions in 2016. The national wine agency will assist the winemaking companies to take part in the exhibitions.

We plan to maintain our sales volume in certain markets, for example, in Ukraine. We plan to take certain steps in this direction. The exports volume depends on the situation in the exports markets. It is difficult to make forecasts in advance.

– How would you assess the 2015 vintage? Was it successful or not and what kind of complications have arisen in the vintage period?

– The process is improved and refined year by year. Despite the reported tensions in the Kakheti Region, this year vintage may be evaluated as the most successful one.

The government has not interfered in the pricing process, for the first time. This is very important to let prices reflect the product quality. It is also significant this year the low-quality grapes were not supported.

– Do you think the government should subsidize the vintage in the future? The government plans to stop the sector subsidization and is the sector able to exist without subsidization?

Our objective is to free the sector from the subsidization component, because this instrument only weakens the field.

It is upon the government to decide whether to subsidize the sector in 2016 or not. The issue will be resolved based on the market realities, i.e. the volume of harvest and the market demand. After calculation of the averaged market price, the government will take a due decision. The government wants to remove subsidization component, but the government may resort to certain interventions, if necessary.