Where to Try Imeretian and Megrelian Wines
Photo Credit: Baia Dzagnidze
The best place to start your Imeretian wine tour is Kutaisi, the second largest city in the country and home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you can spend a couple of days here, you can visit the family-run wine cellars in the villages of Bagdati, Terjola, and Chkhari. Here, you’ll be able to see the vineyards try their types of wine along with local cuisine.
However, if you don’t have much of the time to visit all those cellars, you can easily visit Satsnakheli wine bar in Kutaisi. The very recent addition of dining venues of Kutaisi, Satsnakheli boasts with 120 different types of wines made in Georgia, including local products of the region. And if you are traveling in Kutaisi, you’re more likely to visit Martvili Canyon as a day-trip. To make your small trip to the canyons even more enjoyable, we recommend visiting a family wine cellar Oda and Vino Martville in the village Targameuli in Martvili Municipality. The owners, Zaza Gagua and his wife Keto Ninidze, moved from Tbilisi to Martvili, at Zaza’s grandparent’s house with the aim to revive Megrelian and Imeretian grapes that are on the verge of extinction or are unknown to the wide audience. They both have their own wine cellar producing different wines with different labels and names, but they have one thing in common – all of their wines are natural, meaning that nothing is added during the making process, everything happens naturally.
Vino Martville was founded in 2012 and owns 0.5 ha of Ojaleshi vineyard. They have partner winegrowers in Samegrelo, Imereti, and Lechkhumi regions who grow grapes organically. Therefore, you can try Imeretian, Megrelian, and Rachuli wines in qvevri including Orbeluri Ojaleshi, Khrakhuna, and Dzelshavi. Moreover, they started to revive one of the Abkhazian grapes, but haven’t harvested yet as it’s in small quantities.
Besides tasting wine in a typical Megrelian household with a wooden house and wine-related items decorating the courtyard, you can have a delicious dinner with revived Megrelian meals that has been long forgotten.
It must be noted that like many other family-run wineries, Zaza’s and Keto’s wines are mainly exported to different parts of the world including Australia, Japan, UK, Poland and the USA, leaving them with a few hundred bottles to serve their visitors.