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Kakheti

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Kakheti is Georgia’s biggest region by area, taking in the entire eastern part of the country. The landscape and climate varies dramatically from the high mountains of Tusheti in the north to the semi-desert landscapes of Udabno and Vashlovani in the south. In between, the Alazani river and its wide valley cut through from north to south, carving out dozens of different micro climates that in turn provide the perfect conditions for cultivating grapes. Georgia has more than 400 endemic varieties in total, many of which grow (or once grew) in fertile Kakheti. Today, this remains Georgia’s premier wine region, responsible for around 70% of the country’s harvest.Archaeological evidence dates Georgia’s wine making tradition back to the 6th millennium BC, predating the earliest wine production in France by more than 5,000 years. Wineries in Kakheti continue to live out this legacy. They vary from tiny family operations that stick to time-honored natural wine making methods all the way through to large commercial wineries that employ a mix of Qvevri and European-style techniques.

Kakheti is one of the most popular places to visit in Georgia, and for good reason. It’s not the country’s only wine region, but it is the most productive. The sheer number of medium and large-scale wineries, family Maranis (cellars) and wine-producing monasteries makes the Kakheti Wine Route the best place to sample the width and breadth of Georgia’s wine industry.

Aside from vineyards, Kakheti is known for its medieval monasteries and hilltop churches, many of which date back to the 5th or 6th century when Kakheti was its own self-governed kingdom.

Sights:

Signagi

Signagi is a town in Kakheti, 75 km east from Tbilisi. Although it is one of Georgia’s smallest towns, which serves as a popular tourist destination due to its location at the heart of Georgia’s wine-growing region, its picturesque landscapes, pastel houses with wooden fretwork balconies, and narrow, cobblestone streets.

Located on a steep hill, this amazing town overlooks the vast Alazani Valley, with the Caucasus Mountains visible at a distance. The town is surrounded by the remnants of 18th-century fortifications with the length of about 5 kilometers and 23 towers.

Other highlights of this town are two Georgian Orthodox churches in the town itself – St. George and St. Stephen churches.

The local Ethnographic and Archaeological Museum dating from the 1950s was upgraded and developed into a modern-standard exhibition Signagi Museum in 2007.

This small Georgian town is known as the “City of Love”. There is a wedding house where you can get married anytime.

You will find many cozy places, hotels and hostels to your taste, street cafes and restaurants, where you can try the homemade Kakhetian wines.

Signagi can be visited at any season even in sunny days of winter you will admire looking at snow-capped summits walking on the Signagi wall.

Bodbe Monastery

The monastic complex of St. Nino is located in Kakheti, next to the town Sighnaghi, on the slopes of the Gombori hills. According to Georgian Orthodox tradition, Saint Nino – a 4th-century female evangelist who Christianized Georgia settled in the Bodbe area after her mission, and died there. According to the local legend, St. Nino’s spring emerged through her prayers, which is thought to have healing powers. Bodbe is a popular pilgrimage site among the Orthodox Christians.

Monastery was originally built in the 9th century. Site has been rebuilt and renovated numerous times throughout both medieval and modern periods. In 1889 nunnery was founded in Bodbe, a result of the visit of Tsar Alexander III of Russia. During Soviet era monastery functioned as a hospital. Since 1991, monastery started functioning again and was renovated several times. 

Monastery is situated between the big cypress trees, overlooking the Alazani river valley from the hills of the Gombori mountains. Territory is surrounded by a wall, and the complex integrates a three-nave basilica and a three-storey bell tower located on the lower terrace, as well as other monastery buildings, situated on the upper terrace.

Kvarely winery

Winery Khareba owns an unique and rare wine cellar located in Kvareli, in the Alazani Valley. Carved inside the Caucasus mountains and opened in 1962 for the OIV World Congress, the cellar/tunnel is 7,7 kilometers long.  The best wines of the Kakheti region have been stored and aged here for decades. The tunnel preserves a natural temperature of 12-14° Celcius with a humidity rate of 70%; the ideal conditions for wine preservation. As a matter of fact, in 2011, Winery Khareba has developed a wine touristic infrastructure around the tunnel: a large recreational park with river and old Qvevris, a beautiful old georgian style water mill, a traditional georgian bread bakery in “Tones” (clay ovens), Chacha distillation, a traditional press called “Satsnakheli”, a trout-filled lake, “Patskhas” lodges (small traditional houses) and a very large and typical stone fire grill. Guests are provided with the opportunity to taste more than 40 kinds of Winery Khareba wines, bake their own bread, participate to Chacha making process, prepare “Churchkhela” (sweet peanuts and wine made georgian snack) on the “Mtsvadi” (local name for BBQ), participate to harvest and foot pressing. Touristic complex also includes premium class restaurant “Saperavi”, which is located in the mountain and is connected to the tunnel accessible by elevator. 

Gremi Fortress

Standing above the green valley of Alazan, Gremi attracts travelers whose road goes between Telavi and Kvareli. Gloomy and monumental, the castle is the one of the most visited tourist points in Georgia.

The architectural ensemble of Gremi in the look that it has up to present day was built in the 16th century in the times of King Levan of Kakheti, who announced Gremi the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti.

By order of Levan, a castle and churches were constructed on a small mountain and a rich trading town appeared at the foot of the mountain with a population of over 100 000 people.

Levan’s rule was peaceful, thus the Kingdom of Kakheti had reached economic growth and became stronger during his time. Some historic sources note that one branch of the legendary Silk Road was going through Gremi that more or less favoured the welfare growth.

Alas, Gremi lasted only one and half century. In the beginning of the 17th century it was razed to the ground by the armies of Shah Abbas I of Persia. The city could not fully recover and by the middle of the 17th century Kings of Kakheti moved the capital to Telavi.

It’s also worth visiting the restored royal castle. There is a museum on the ground floor. The castle has three floors.

Visitors can also go up to the top of the castle to get the panoramic view of the Alazan valley.

Tsinandali estate

  Tsinandali Estate located in the heartland of wine producing region of Kakheti was among domains of Chavchavadze princely family for centuries, but true revival of the Estate is linked with the name of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze (1786-1846) son of diplomat and statesman Prince Garsevan, he turned this picturesque Estate into the center of cultural life of Georgia.

  Princely family famous for fostering European culture was first to produce European style wine and first to encourage European classical music; First ever grand piano in Georgia is still on display in Tsinandali.

  Estate was frequented by men of arts and sciences, visited among others by Alexander Dumas Sr. and Alexander Pushkin, as well as virtually every Georgian poet of the period.

  Prince Alexander, poet, wine enthusiast and occasional rebel was active in all social developments of the epoch. His involvement in anti-Russian rebellions was treated with far more mercy as a result of him being godson of Empress Catherine the II, which made him engage in one rebellion after the other. Father figure of Georgian Romanticism and founder of modern Georgian wine making he was a member of Légion d’honneur and received numerous other honors and decorations for his civil and military career.

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Group of 21 - 32 people
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Group of 32 - 42 people
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