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Georgia government backs wine industry revival

Georgia's government has agreed to fund a new winery that is set to be one of the country's largest, as part of plans to overhaul the sector and increase exports.

Georgia’s traditional winemaking technique, using earthenware qvevri, got UNESCO World Heritage status in 2013.

Government funding will be provided to build a new winery in the area of Keda, in Adjara, a ministry of agriculture spokesperson told Decanter.com.

Financial details were not disclosed, but the winery is set to have a processing capacity of 12,000 tonnes of grapes per year and this could be increased further in future. More wineries could also be funded in future.

The news comes several months after the European Union ended import tariffs on Georgian wine. Its move appeared partly designed as a political rebuff to Russia, which is traditionally the largest export market for Georgian wine but which has periodically banned imports in recent years, citing safety concerns.

Annual sales of Georgian wine, including both domestic and export, were 300m lari (US$167.5m) last year and are expected to be 330m lari in 2014.

According to Georgia’s National Wine Agency, wine export volumes in 2013 reached 44.6m bottles, up from 23.3m a year earlier. Exports were 42.8m for the first nine months of the current year.

As well as funding winery construction, Georgia’s government plans to extend its policy of offering cut-price loans to farmers.

It is also intends to reform the current vineyard certification system and quality controls on wine.

The ministry spokesperson said officials have already begun to issue maximum crop levels for different regions, while a state tasting commission has been established to better assess wine quality.

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Written by Eugene Gerden

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