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Georgian Wine

In 2006, Russia banned the import of all Georgian wines, effectively eliminating all exports of Georgian

wine. Until 2006, over 80% of the 50 million bottles of Georgian wine produced annually had traveled

across Georgia’s northern border into Russia. The Russian Ministry of Health claimed Georgian wine

had unhealthy levels of chemicals in the wine, and that Georgian wines were being counterfeited with

foreign grapes and mislabeling in Georgia, while some foreign wines were being labeled as Georgian.

While Georgians considered the ban to be a political move by Russia, the effect of the ban was potentially

devastating to the Georgian economy and even more devastating for individual producers.

 

Georgia is thought to be the oldest wine making region in the world; evidence of Georgian wine has been

found dating as far back as 7000-5000BC. Wine makers in Georgia use a unique process, burying earthen

jugs of juice to allow fermentation for up to 50 years. The jugs, known as kvevri, are filled with fermented

juice from the grape harvest, covered with a wooden top, and then buried underground.

 

The Georgian wine market is comprised of a large number of grape and wine producers. Most producers

are small, family owned businesses or farms who use traditional Georgian wine production techniques.

Few producers have large operations, creating little consistency in flavor, texture, or appearance across

the industry.

 

To make wine and other industries more competitive, the Georgian government has consistently made

efforts to deregulate markets. As Georgia attempts to remove itself from the influence of Russia, the

country’s growth has exceeded 10% in terms of GDP in some years. The US sees Georgia as an important

trading partner. As such, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2006 proposed a project

to import wine to the US. The effort was intended to “[support] the Government of Georgia’s reform efforts

to improve the policy and operating environment for business, thereby accelerating the development and

growth of private enterprises to generate employment.




Check out these links on our work with Georgian wine!

Seattle Times Article

Puget Sound Business Journal Article

Seattle Time Article 2