Georgia government bolsters struggling wine industry
- Friday 26 May 2006
Measures such as postponing tax payments and giving short term financial incentives are designed to bolster an industry whose exports to Russia were worth around 15% of export revenues.
Russia placed an embargo on wine and other alcoholic drinks from Georgia and Moldova on 27 March. The ban – which has been denounced as illegal, and politically motivated – has caused widespread economic difficulties. Georgia had been exporting 89% of all its wine to Russia.
Russia claimed that wine from Moldova and Georgia was of inferior quality and failed to meet health and safety regulations.
As part of the government’s support for the industry, to help it expand into new markets, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli was at Vinopolis in London last week to host a tasting of wines from 17 of Georgia’s leading wineries.
‘Georgia is being punished for its successful democratic transformation,’ he said. ‘The ban is totally unfair and totally illegal, but the sector as a whole will survive and grow stronger.’
At the same time, Vasil Managadze, the new director of Georgia’s wine regulatory body, is looking at tackling the problem of fraud.
‘We need to stop falsification of our wines as this brings down our reputation. We’re not a mass producer so we should be able to control the harvest and concentrate on quality wine.’
A good deal of fraudulent ‘Georgian wine’ comes from other countries, allegedly including Bulgaria and Spain, so the government has a new policy of assigning diplomats in all its embassies to address this issue and take legal action wherever possible. ‘It’s about raising awareness of the problem and protecting our customers,’ Managadze said.
Lado Uzunashvili, chief winemaker at Pernod-Ricard owned GWS, said,’ Perhaps this crisis will give Georgia the impetus it needs to create a category for its unique and increasingly exciting wines.’