Georgian winemaking method joins UNESCO heritage list

  • Friday 6 December 2013

Georgia's traditional winemaking method of fermenting grapes in earthenware, egg-shaped vessels has been added to the world heritage list of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO).

Georgian Qvevri

Georgia’s traditional winemaking method of fermenting grapes in earthenware, egg-shaped vessels has been added to the world heritage list of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO).

The UN body said this month that Georgia’s ancient qvevri winemaking method is part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

It joins a relatively exclusive club of wine-related items recognised by UNESCO, including the areas of Tokaj, St Emilion, the Upper Douro and the island of Hvar.

The large earthenware vessels traditionally used to ferment grapes in Georgia are called qvevri and archaeological evidence of their use goes back 8,000 years.

They are typically buried in the floor of the cellar or Marani, a semi-sacred place to most Georgians and found in almost every house.

The practice has recently spread to other countries, such as Slovenia, Italy, Armenia, Croatia and even the US, alongside current interest in natural and orange wines.

UNESCO said, ‘the tradition plays a vital role in everyday life and celebrations, and forms an inseparable part of the cultural identity of Georgian communities, with wine and vines frequently evoked in Georgian oral traditions and songs.’

Lado Uzunashvili, winemaker at Chateau Mukhrani in Georgia’s Kartli and Orovela in Kakheti, told decanter.com, ‘It will help us to promote the authenticity of our traditional way of winemaking, as well as what has been built on this tradition.’

He added, ‘furthermore, all the attempts to compete with Georgia in claiming the name of oldest and most unique wine country are proved futile after such recognition.’

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