Posted: 3 years ago

Vintage Economy

What problems do  wine growers and winemakers face in the homeland of winemaking? How is the 2019 vintage proceeding, and how much do the grapes cost? To explore the issue in details, 3 presenters of the BusinessPartner TV Program visited Akhasheni and met with founders of small and medium wine cellars. 


Levan Mekhuzla, head of the National Wine Agency, told the BusinessPartner, TV program broadcast by Channel 1, the Georgian Public Broadcast (GPB), that the year of 2019 is the first year in Georgian winemaking history where the country has used cadastre for grape growing. In four microzones of Kakheti, such as Kindzmarauli, Kvareli, Mukuzani and Akhasheni,the  grapes were very successfully sold according to grapes cadastre.


The National Wine Agency hopes that in 2-3 years, the cadastre will fully cover Kakheti-based vineyards. 


Mekhuzla pointed out that a vineyard’s cadastre is one of the key challenges in winemaking and the winegrowing field. 


“Prior to considering the production phase, we should mention the vintage cadastre issue. In the end, we should have inventoried the total space of vineyards in Georgia. Everything depends on financial resources. Regretfully, we do not have much potential to make an inventory of the total space at once. This year, for the first time, we are growing the vintage in a cadastre in two microzones of Kindzmarauli and Mukuzani.


In reality, there are four microzones, because Kindzmarauli and Kvareli (both are microzones) neighbor each other, and Mukuzani (microzone) also overlaps with Akhasheni (microzone). Therefore, in these four microzones, we  have successful sales of grapes due to our usage of vintage cadastre. We will cover the whole region of Kakheti in 2-3 years”, Mekhuzla noted. 


As to the 2019 vintage process, Mekhuzla noted that the vintage started later because of bad weather, and the majority of grapes are Rkatsiteli and Saperavi. As of 10 o’clock on September 23, 101,000 tons of grapes were processed in the Kakheti region, including 65,000 tons of Rkatsiteli, 28,000 tons of Saperavi, and the remainder were other grape varieties. 


The price of Rkatsiteli  is 70-80 Tetri, Saperavi are around 1.50-1.60 GEL. Prices in Mukuzani zone make up 2.50 GEL, Mekhuzla said. 


“The minimum price of Rkatsiteli per kilogram is 70 Tetri. In special cases (high-quality grapes), for instance in the Tsinandali microzone, the price per kilogram can hit even 80 Tetri. Prices are higher for other varieties of white grapes, such as Kakhuri Green and Khikhvi. As for Saperavi, the price of Saperavi outside the microzone ranges from 1.50 to 1.60 GEL, sometimes higher. As for the Saperavi microzone, for example, Mukuzani,  the price per kilogram is 1.90-2.00 GEL. As for Kindzmarauli, the prices are higher – 2.20-.250 GEL”, Levan Mekhuzla noted. 


The current model of cooperation in the field of Georgian winemaking and winegrowing should be strengthened by a European component of cooperation, too, as noted by Deputy Business Ombudsman and co-presenter of the BusinessPartner TV Program Levan Kalandadze. 


It would be reasonable if the government temporarily engages in the mentioned model, Kalandadze said. 

“We have the free market, and this is a very important component. Conceptually, the government carries out the right policy by not intervening in selecting the grapes’ market price, and this tendency should be maintained. However, I like the European model of wine market development very much. In this regard, it is very important to strengthen the state’s role. The current model of cooperation, for example, in the field of winegrowing and winemaking, offers the ability to shape associations, and to get a shared product – grapes. I believe that the European model, in combination with the current model, will enable our ability to add three components cooperation. Namely, the cooperation format will include winegrowers, producers and management – the group engaged in grapes sales. The government’s engagement is necessary in the initial phase, and the government should withdraw from the project in 2-3 years”, Levan Kalandadze said. 


Owners of small wine cellars noted that small and medium wine cellars should be developed to promote the fields of Georgian wine growing and winemaking. Moreover, winegrowers and winemakers should intensify their cooperation to improve the price, quality and sales of grapes.


To this end, it would be optimal to introduce the European model of cooperation that unites winegrowers, winemakers and the chain of marketing, they noted. 


“Cooperation and collaboration with family-based business are favorable for winegrowers, winemakers and buyers, because high-quality products are sold at an affordable price. This should be a key motivation. This model can be seen in France, Italy, Spain, Israel, Australia and New Zealand”, Gia Piradashvili, owner of Viniveria noted. 


For me, the quality is a priority issue, as well as the reliability of a winegrower, his honesty, not the price. We should develop an industry that will place  their focus on quality issues, Piradashvili said. 

Tamar Dighmelishvili, founder of Tamara Wine Cellar, noted that this year, all winegrowers should, first of all, think of grape quality. The association of winegrowers should be established as part of a new regional development project, she pointed out. 


Tornike Chubinidze, founder of Chubini Marani, stated that small and medium companies place focus on quality issues, and only after that can they think of prices. 


“Based on the scale of our production and limited volumes, we prefer to produce premium quality wines. When we communicate with major companies, then the cost of the product becomes more important”, Chubinidze said ,and further noted that the price of grapes in major companies make the final price more expensive. 


“An ideal solution would be if farmers do not supply grapes to wineries, but create the final product themselves. In this case, farmers should care more for grapes quality and regulate productivity to get high-quality and avoid overproduction. We should follow these principles, but many years will be needed”, Chubinidze noted. 

Beka Nasrashvili, founder of Nasrashvilis’ Marani, explains that winegrowers should know for whom they make wines, and for whom they grow grapes, in order to be able to create first class wines