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Keti Kenkishvili: Wine is a Living Body – You should first Grasp Its Nature and Then Taste It

GWS, wines and strong drinks manufacturing company, is one of the oldest and well-known winemaking enterprises in Georgia, which was founded in Telavi, Achinebuli, in 1993, on basis of TELAVI 2 old winery established in 1976.

Currently, GWS owns 350 hectare vineyards and the most part of them are 15-25 years in age, including red grape varieties occupy 280 hectares. 70% of the vineyards are Georgian traditional grape varieties and 30% are replenished by famous international varieties. The company makes still, sparkling wines and high-alcohol products under the brand names of Tamada, Old Tbilisi, Adamanti, Vismino and Elibo.

Keti Kenkishvili, GWS company ambassador, talks about winemaking, its importance and taste properties, her own career and the narrative that has brought the company’s today.

I loved French Language from my childhood. I used to go to French school. I continued my studies at Strasbourg State University in France. Later, I returned to Georgia and since then I live in Georgia.

-Where and how have you continued career?

-After graduation, I had to work in many places with various professions, in private companies and international projects. Over the past period, for 3 years, I was a director for chamber of commerce of France.

I learned about GWS company in my childhood, because its was one of the leading companies in Georgia. I received an invitation from Georgian Wines and Spirits Company (GWS) to become the company ambassador. In that period the company did not have an ambassador at all. Even today there are few companies in Georgia, which have the position of an ambassador.

-What does this position mean for you?

-The position of a company ambassador implies to act as a company representative and take efforts on priority markets for the company products promotion.

-You are GWS ambassador. You introduce the company products to foreign markets, you are the company image in other countries. What specific features does your position imply? What are your responsibilities?

-Public and media relations is my responsibility, as well as introduction of the company and its products onto Georgian and other priority markets such as Ukraine, China, Russia, Poland, Kazakhstan and so on. I am proud to say that today all over the world Georgian wines are well-known products and their quality and style are deeply appreciated. We also hold various events and meetings in some countries. There  are also markets, which receive interesting information about wines, Georgia and our culture from me.

-Why winemaking company? How was you interested in wine production?

-In general Georgia is a cradle of wine. I can hardly imagine a Georgian not interested in wines. I am happy that a lot of people worldwide  know Georgia as a homeland of wine. Wine and vineyard have special place in Georgian culture.

-As a professional what do you make accents on when tasting wines?

-When tasting wines I pay much attention to its integrity and balance. It is important how well the wine color, aroma, tannin and acidity fit each other. It is also important what emotions the wine brings to me. Wine is a living body. Therefore you should first grasp its nature and then taste it so as it comprehensively transmit its natural emotion to you.

-What sort of wines do you give preference to?

-I personally prefer dry wines. I like both white and red wines.

-It is a well-known fact that the dishes we have with this or that wine are of crucial importance. What would you advice to consumers in this respect?

-First of all, when selecting this or that wine variety, consumers should make concentration on their own taste preferences. What sort of wines they like, dry or red. Only after this they should think whether they want to only taste wine or taste it with some specific dish. White wine is a  lighter product. It is not as intense and clearly expressed as red wine. Consequently, white wines are tasted with light dishes rather, such as vegetables, fish products, marine products, while red wines rather match meat dishes, because meat has specifically expressed taste properties.

Wine should be balanced, on the one hand, and match dishes, on the other hand. Dish aromas, including acidity and expressiveness should fit taste properties of wines.

-Appraise Georgian market from the position of a winemaking company.

-I am happy Georgian wines are in-demand products. The wine market is being developed successfully. Our company makes emphasis on wine quality and professionalism. We control the whole process from vineyard caring to grapes pressure and in this way we produce high-quality products. Our wines are sold with huge success on both traditional and new markets. Traditional markets include Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan. Over the past period, Georgian wines have also entered new markets such as Poland, Germany, France, Japan, Great Britain, the USA…

-The company has recently held a traditional event, now in Baroque-style Pleasure Garden, where iconic wines were represented. What would you say about this?

-It is the third year we hold traditional event at GWS, where we introduce our new products to tourists. In 2016 Georgian Wines and Spirits Company marked its 40 jubilee, where we introduced a new brand of Vismino to our guests. In 2017 we held Bacchus Festival and exclusively offered great reserves of Tamada, as well as Qvevri to our guests. On June 23, 2018 we held event at GWS, where we introduced a collection of new iconic wines to our guests – Colors of Georgia. This collection includes three wines: Red wine Vardisubani and Two red wines – Akura and Artana. Why the Pleasure Garden? Iconic wines imply wines with elite line, which are made in small quantities by winemakers with full sensitivity. That’s why we have selected Baroque style as the event theme, because it implies expressive nature, pleasure with life, reign of life.

-What about future and strategic plans?

-Our wines are most important products, as well as their quality and style. We had this priority in the past, this tendency has strengthened today and will further strengthen in the future. Over the past 4-5 years we have made very important investments in vineyards. We have worked a lot on grapes quality, improved winegrowing practice to reach ultimate improvement in quality of our wines. This quality of wines, this quality of winegrowing is a key basis of GWS strategy. Over the past years GWS recorded crucial growth in terms of both volumes and values. Our strategy is based on three key principles: First, quality and style of our wines, which is recognized on both international and domestic markets. Second, commercial strategy, namely, diverse markets. Historically, GWS products were exported to Russia, Ukraine. Over the past years, we have also entered western Europe. By the way, we export wines to France too in symbolic volumes. This is huge success for our company. The third principle of our strategy is a development of the portfolio of our brands. Over the past years, we have developed new brands. Historically, GWS used to produce Old Tbilisi and Tamada brands. We have also developed Vismino brand for Georgian market. We have added elite line in the form of magnificent reserve and Qvevri to the brand of Tamada. This year we have introduced a collection of new iconic wines.

Our company follows these three key principles – quality of our wines, diversification of export markets and development of the portfolio of our products and trademarks.