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Al Jazeera: How Russia Inadvertently Promoted Georgian Wine in the West

Qatar’s largest Media Network Al Jazeera writes an article about Georgian wine, its culture and traditions. Al Jazeera’s Mansur Mirovalev visited Kakheti region, near Kisiskhevi surroundings, where he observed Georgian wine production and one Georgian family.

Apart from the eloquent description of wine-production culture in Georgia, the author concentrates on its economic aspects, particularly its export market. Mirovalev notes that “Georgia’s most outspoken son,” Joseph Stalin, that is, turned Georgia into the major wine supplier of Soviet Union. Ever since then Georgian wine has been practically the only go-to wine in Russia.

However, 2006 and Putin’s embargo on Georgia’s cherished grape product came about. “Georgians believed the ban was political retribution for the pro-Western policies of then-president Mikheil Saakashvili,” Mirovalev writes. Later, 2008 August war between Georgia and Russia exasperated the situation.

Georgia’s wine industry seemed doomed, however, Al Jazeera reporter underlines the unforeseen merits of the Russian embargo on Georgian wine, namely its wide discovery by the West.

The results of Georgian wine’s market diversification were not immediate, but they were apparent, writes Al Jazeera, citing the wine’s winning nominations in China and Japan.

In 2015, some 210,000 bottles of Georgian wine were sold in the US, Georgia’s National Wine Agency said in early November – not bad for a niche product hardly known to Americans, some of whom would have mistaken the country for a US state several years ago.

Poland was a top Western buyer with almost 1.3 million bottles.

“The backbone of Georgia’s winemaking seems resistant to economic and political hardships,” writes Al Jazeera reporter, quoting his Georgian host Vintner Saalishvili. “My wine gets sold, no matter what,” he proclaims loudly after several glasses of orange and red wine and a shot of chacha, or grape moonshine made of the skins, stems and seeds taken out of his kvevri just days earlier.

By Nino Gojiashvili

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