With funding from USAID's Economic Security Program, the Georgian Wine Club has launched an educational program called Wine Village to develop small and medium-sized wineries and regional wine tourism.
Photo courtesy of: Georgia Wine Promotion Center
The project has been underway for one year and the first phase will last until May 2021. Currently, the project covers three regions of Georgia - Imereti, Lacha and Lejakhumi - and in the future it will cover all the wine regions of Georgia. The project aims to find winemakers and small and medium-sized wineries in villages with great potential for wine and gastronomic tourism and provide them with consulting services. They will help small and medium-sized wineries to transform their existing farms into tourist-friendly farms, unite wineries with various tour operators, offer attractive natural products and services to wine and gastronomy tourism lovers, and lead these wineries on the path of wine tourism.
Experts in viticulture, winemaking, marketing and tourism have formed a mobile working group to work in about 20 villages in the three regions. The qualifying phase of the event is now underway and the list of wineries that can continue to participate in the project will be revealed shortly. After that, training, research and fieldwork will begin immediately. The experts will directly supervise all the work done in the vineyards, including pruning, irrigation, green work, fermentation and initial aging of the wines.
The program also includes marketing consulting, market research, public relations activities, mini-exhibitions, participation in the New Wine Festival, joining the Wine Trail, and more. The project will also attract owners of prestigious wineries, successful winegrowers and experienced winemakers to participate in the renovation of small and medium-sized wineries in the future.
The Wine Country project is the result of the Georgian Wine Club"s 11 years of experience. The New Wine Festival is a popular celebration of wine, with dozens of new wineries appearing on the scene each year, but many of them remain unknown, says Malkhaz Kharbedia, founder of the Wine Club. Every year, hundreds of wineries apply to have their wines entered into the competition. Last year alone, some 700 wines were showcased in the qualifying rounds of the New Wine Festival. Their potential is enormous, so we must do serious research and promotion.
It must be said that too many of these small producers have failed to get out of the woods and achieve real growth over the years. Many of them have not had the opportunity to learn about such cultivation, brewing, etc. Most importantly, their products do not reach consumers and consumers (including tourists) have no access to any of their information.
We believe that it is important for small wineries to develop an education-media-event chain that makes it easier for novice viticulturists to enter the wine market with a product that deserves the attention of the media, especially consumers and tourists. To do this, it is first necessary to produce a quality product that is worthy not only of the input of the novice entrepreneur, but also of the viticultural, oenological, wine tourism and marketing specialists who provide the knowledge and guidance that will help these wineries to shine in the media and at events.