Wine on Mars? The World’s Oldest Wine-Making Country Wants to Make It Happen

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 9

The first human colonists on Mars will have to forgo many of the creature comforts of Earth — things like enjoying an ozone layer, for example, or opting out of rearing genetically engineered Martian babies. Fortunately, one essential earthly amenity these hardscrabble colonists may not have to give up is wine.

Georgia, a country with an 8,000-year-old viticulture tradition, is putting its top space and wine scientists to work figuring out how to grow grapes on Mars.

The project, named IX Millennium, ostensibly as a nod to Georgia’s ninth millennium making wine, will involve several phases of research into building an agricultural infrastructure on Mars. One critical step: identifying the grape varietals on Earth best equipped to withstand the harsh radiation, fearsome dust storms and severe temperature swings of the Red Planet. This research could help hydrate permanent settlements on Mars a soon as 2024 — the year when SpaceX founder Elon Musk intends to launch the first crewed mission there. (NASA hopes to follow in the 2030s.) [Mars InSight Photos: A Timeline to Landing on the Red Planet]

“If we’re going to live on Mars one day, Georgia needs to contribute,” Nikoloz Doborjginidze, founder of Georgia’s Space Research Agency and an adviser on the wine project, told The Washington Post. “Our ancestors brought wine to Earth, so we can do the same to Mars.” (The origins of wine are still debated, but Georgia holds a valid claim thanks to their recent discovery of an old wine-stained pot dated to 6000 B.C.)

The new space wine project will kick off later this year with the installation of “vertical greenhouses” inside a hotel in the capital city of Tbilisi, according to Georgian news agency Agenda.ge. There, floor-to-ceiling pods of soil and seeds (including grapes, strawberries and arugula) will be left to grow under hydroponic lights with minimal human interference, simulating the possible conditions of a controlled agriculture pod on Mars.

In the meantime, Georgian wine experts are hard at work trying to figure out which grape varietals might best survive harsh Martian conditions. Over the next few years, researchers at Tbilisi’s Business Technology University plan to simulate a Martian environment in the laboratory, exposing soil samples to subzero conditions, high carbon monoxide levels and thin air meant to mimic the atmospheric pressure at “20,000 feet [6,000 meters] altitude on Earth,” The Washington Post reported.

These experiments likely will not bear fruit until at least 2022, but scientists already have a hunch that white wine will fare best on the Red Planet.

“Whites tend to be more resistant to viruses,” Levan Ujmajuridze, director of Georgia’s vineyard Laboratory, told The Washington Post. “So, I’d imagine they’ll do well against radiation, too. Their skin could reflect it.”

These experiments could well provide future Martians with grapevines — but the actual fermenting, bottling and aging would be up to them. Nobody knows exactly how fermenting grapes in microgravity will actually work yet, but NASA scientists think it’s possible.

The Georgia team’s boozy experiments aren’t the first foray into space agriculture. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have already begun growing salad crops in microgravity, while China’s recently deployed Chang’e-4 lander will attempt to grow potatoes and rockcress (a flowering plant similar to cabbage and mustard) on the moon.

The makers of Budweiser, meanwhile, have launched barley seeds into space three times in hopes of becoming “the first beer on Mars,” while a batch of Ardmore scotch whisky spent three years aboard the ISS from 2011 to 2014. That project showed Earthlings that even an old drop of the pure is apparently not immune to the ravages of microgravity; the scotch reportedly came home tasting of “antiseptic lozenges” and “rubbery smoke.”

 

Originally published on Live Science.

Source: www.Space.com

Why Georgian Qvevri are so efficient at making natural wine

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 11
Amber wines that are made in Qvevri are becoming increasingly well known in the UK – not only being imported from countries like Georgia and Armenia, but also through English winemakers who have decided to use Qvevri.
Raw, low-intervention, hand-made, artisanal, craft – when it comes to ‘naturally’ made wines, the vinicultural lexicon is as rich as it is imprecise. All of these descriptors are variously employed to distinguish wines made with minimal interference or the use of additives.
In Georgian winemaking, however, there is a clear and important defining feature and that is the Qvevri.
The name refers specifically to the large lemon-shaped terracotta pot that is buried in the ground up to its neck. The word literally means ‘that which is buried’ (not to be confused with ‘Amphora’ which are not).
Somewhat bizarrely the traditional way of spelling Qvevri is Kvevri but when Georgian is typed on a standard keyboard the key allocated to this ‘k’ is actually the ‘q’ key; Georgians therefore invariably spell the word with a ‘q’ in English, the Q spelling is increasingly being favoured by the Georgian wine industry because of its graphical resemblance to the oval-shaped Qvevri.
Crucially, the entire wine making process takes place within the Qvevri, from fermentation right through to maturation, with the fermenting grape juice often being left on the skins and even grape stems (the ‘mother’) to create wines of exceptional flavour, complexity and colour.
Notably, these include the amber wines that are made from indigenous grape varieties, Rkatsiteli, Kisi and Mtsvane that produce the characteristically dry but full-bodied, aromatic orange wines. Red wines, often made from the Saperavi grapes, are also produced in Qvevri, to produce wines that have an inky purple colour with intense aromatics and dense, supple texture.
Despite a recent revival in these methods, yields are low and currently account for less than 10 per cent of Georgia’s total wine production which adds to their cachet.
The Qvevri themselves are made today by less than a handful of surviving master craftsmen; Such is their importance to the history of winemaking that the United Nations placed them on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2014.
It takes on average three months to make one 2000 litre Qvevri (firing alone takes seven to eight days). A giant coil pot, its coils are added slowly and gradually to maintain the correct tension and strength needed to hold the shape and weight of the clay.
After firing, while still warm, it is coated on the inside with beeswax to clog the pores without sealing them completely, to allow some air to pass through during fermentation. Pure beeswax also has waterproofing and sterilizing properties that make the Qvevri more hygienic and easy to clean. A limestone paint or concrete outer coating is added to protect it during transportation.
Given Georgia’s reputation as the ‘Cradle of Wine’, it is impossible to ignore associations with creation, nurturing and birth. Like a giant egg, the vessel is sunken into the earth to prevent it from cracking or breaking from build-up of pressure during fermentation. There it will protect its embryonic wine for an average six-to-nine month gestation, safe from external threats such as potential earthquake and fluctuating temperatures.
Qvevri are used differently according to which part of Georgia you are in, often determined by the climate of the region. As the regions get hotter, the more skins and stems tend to be fermented with the grapes – if stems are left in the wine in the cooler regions it can produce wines that are far too ‘green’ and harsh.
Alcoholic fermentation begins naturally after a few days and continues for two to four weeks at which point the cap falls. The fermenting grapes are ‘punched down’ twice a day during fermentation. Once the cap falls, the red wines are generally removed from the lees, or ‘mother’ while the whites are left with her.
A stone lid is placed over the top of the Qvevri and malolactic fermentation begins spontaneously soon afterwards.
They are then left to mature for an average of six months during which time the unwanted lees, seeds and stalks fall into the nipple where they have limited contact with the wine.
After this time, the Qvevri is opened, to reveal the delicious, bright liquid. It is then put on its feet (either by pump, gravity or more low-tech ladles), and transferred into freshly cleaned Qvevri, barrels or other storage vessels until it is ready for bottling. At the end of the cycle, the empty Qvevri is scrubbed thoroughly from the inside with a brush made from St John’s Wort to ensure it is sterile before it is filled again.
There are varied and often opposing views on the use of additives, including cultured yeasts, enzymes and sulphates. Some growers eschew them entirely while others seem to adopt a more discretionary approach. Either is the prerogative of the winemaker and subject to ever-changing new developments, consumer demands and legislation. In the meantime, it seems that the essential art of Qvevri winemaking is likely to remain as it has for the past 8000 years.
Source: The-buyer.net

NY Times Includes Batumi in 52 Places to Go in 2019

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 18

The New York Times published a list of ‘52 Places to Go in 2019,’ which includes Georgia’s Black Sea coastal city Batumi.

The article reads that Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, has been flooded with tourists over the past decade, adding Batumi, a “hushed seaside city where verdant mountains slope down to the Black Sea’s smooth stone beaches,” offers a different experience.

“Already a popular escape for Russians, Iranians, Turks and Israelis, the city is preparing itself for its inevitable discovery by the rest of the world: new hotels — including the Le Meridien Batumi and a Batumi installment of the design-centric boutique Rooms Hotel line — are rising, and a cable car will swing straight to the coast from the hilltop Batumi Botanical Garden,” the article reads.

Top 10 destinations of the list are:

  1. Puerto Rico
  2. Hampi
  3. Santa Barbara
  4. Panama
  5. Munich
  6. Eliat
  7. Setouchi Islands
  8. Aalborg
  9. The Azores
  10. Ontario Ice Caves

Source:Georgiatoday.ge

Georgia marks national flag day

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 19

The current national flag was officially introduced on 14 January 2004.

The flag was used by the Georgian patriotic movement following the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

By the late 1990s, the design had become widely known as ‘the Georgian historical national flag’ as vexillologists had pointed out the red-on-white Jerusalem cross shown as the flag of Tbilisi in a 14th-century map by Domenico and Francesco Pizzigano, the 14th century Venetian cartographers.

A majority of Georgians, including the Georgian church, supported the restoration of the flag that took place in 2004.

The winning entry replaced an earlier, three-colour flag first adopted for the 1918-1921 First Democratic Republic of Georgia before it was restored in 1990, ahead of Georgia’s proclamation of independence from the Soviet Union.

Drawn by painter Iakob Nikoladze, the design was selected for the original Republic that became independent  from Imperial Russia following the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The State Council of Heraldry called upon Georgian citizens today to set and raise the national flag on their home windows, balconies, fences, roofs and cars to honour Georgian statehood and independence, national and individual freedoms.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili hosted a special event at her residency today and stated that the Georgian flag “symbolises the independence of the country, its freedom and everything which is valuable for us”.

The day of the national flag was first marked in 2012.

Source: Agenda.ge

Forbes Features “Unique” Georgian Wines

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 44

Forbes published an article this week by contributor Lana Bortolot titled ”Why Georgian wines are Among the Most Unique on the Planet”.

Bortolot is a wine, food, and travel reporter who holds the Advanced Wine & Spirits Education Trust certificate and has covered wine regions in more than 16 countries.

In the article, Bortolot explores Georgian wine culture, the role of wine in modern Georgian society, and the technical side of Georgian wine. The piece is peppered with quotes from Georgian wine lovers:

“Even where we think a culture like France or Italy is so wine-centric, Georgians just take it to a whole different level—much deeper than what we’re exposed,” – Taylor Parsons

“There’s something very particular about how Georgians love wine,” he said. “It’s a little eccentric but then you start looking into it and once you do, you’re truly amazed—it’s such an integral part of the culture and everyday life.” – Noel Brockett

“One of the most important things about Georgian wines is that it’s a window into a culture that most of us as Westerners simply don’t have,” – Simon J. Woolf

Bortolot goes on to focus on orange or amber wines, a style growing in popularity worldwide that has long been part of Georgia’s tradition. She also recounts a legend, which said that, in ancient times, “soldiers wove a piece of grapevine into the chain mail protecting their chests, so when they died in battle, a vine sprouted not just from their bodies, but their hearts.”

The article introduces readers to several Georgian wine makers – locals and expats, high end factories and garage operations – celebrating the varied, inclusive culture of Georgian wine.

The article ends with a wine sampler. Bortolot recommends Kisi, Mtsvane, Rkatsiteli, Saperavi, and Tsinandali for beginners.

 

 

By Samantha Guthrie, Source: Georgiatoday.ge

Arles Museum to Host the Exhibition of Niko Pirosmani Paintings

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 46

After famous Albertina Museum in Vienna, ‘Niko Pirosmani – A Wanderer between Worlds’ will continue its journey through other European countries.

The next ‘stop’ for the exhibition will be Arles Museum of Modern Art in the South of France. The works of the self-taught primitivist painter, who represents a unique figure of Georgian art will be displayed alongside the paintings of the prominent Dutch impressionist Vincent van Gogh, who lived in Arles for a time.

The exhibition is scheduled for March 2019 and will likely last until summer. It was stated by the Georgian National Museum that negotiations are ongoing about the details of the organization of the exposition. The exhibition is prepared by the Georgian National Museum (GNM) network and the Vincent van Gogh Foundation in Arles.

29 works of Pirsomani, currently being displayed at the Albertina Museum, will be showcased in Arles.

The opportunity to exhibit Pirosmani’s paintings at Albertina is considered an unprecedented success in promoting the country and its culture. General Director of the Georgian National Museum David Lordkipanidze told Imedi TV, the given exhibition had record-breaking viewer numbers.

After Austria, the French audience will also be presented a chance to observe the paintings of Pirosmani and explore the Georgian avant-garde.

 

 

By Ketevan Kvaratskheliya, Source: Georgiatoday.ge

Image source: imedinews.ge

Georgian Food Named as Cuisine of the Year by Af&co

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 37

Af&Co has named Georgian food as Cuisine of the Year and Khachapuri as its dish of the year in its 2019 Trends Report.

Based in San Francisco, af&co is a leading restaurant and hospitality consulting firm. Their report identifies the hottest key trends in restaurants, food and beverage, and hospitality marketing.

The Ajarian dish Khachapuri has been awarded the title of Dish of the Year thanks to its tasty combination of cheese and egg, and its instagramability. It’s already being served in some restaurants in the US, including Supra in Washington DC, Cheeseboat in Brooklyn and Barbounia in New York.

The Trends Report was the eleventh edition published by af&co. Founder Andrew Freeman noted that “the hospitality industry is leading the charge in creating the world we want to live in. Restaurants and hotels are gathering places for people to connect, creating the perfect grounds for people to come together, get personal, and embrace forward-thinking ideas.”

 

By Amy Jones, Source: Georgiatoday.ge

Photo source: reddit.com

Bakuriani – Skiing resort in Georgia

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 45
Bakuriani – a favorite resort in summer and winter for kids and adults, beauty of the Borjomi Gauge, is located on the northern slope of the Trialeti Range on the banks of the river Bakurianistskali at around 1700 meters above sea level, it lies 30 kilometers from Borjomi and 180 kilometers from Tbilisi, the capital.

Bakuriani is known for days with long sunshine, for 2052 hours a year and long snowy winter from December to March. Winters are cold and experience sufficient snowfall while summers are long. Average January temperature is – 7 and in August +15 degrees by Celsius. Average snow cover makes 64 cm.
Cristal clean air of high mountains, predominantly coniferous (mainly made up of spruce) forest filled with the perfume of beech trees, Kokhtagora, Kokhtagora II and views of mountains of Tskhratskaro attract attention of visitors during all seasons of the year.

No wonder that Bakuriani is one of the most famous mountain resorts among Georgian international ski resorts. Its climate and relief is ideal for the development of varieties of winter sports. First skiers were fixed here in 1932.
During winter seasons families with kids and fans of skiing adults equally enjoy staying here. Cable ways can be found in several places, on the Kokhtagora mount (1.3 km), Kokhtagora II, Sakhvelo mount (3.8km), under 90 and 25 m. ski jumps and there are also places for tobogganing in the park. The Kokhtagora along with other ski runs is one of the best difficult skiing runs for professional skiers.

Bakuriani is a mountain-climate resort with its main curative factors: mountain air, long time sunshine, high activity of ultraviolet rays. One can be cured here from lymphadenitis, chronic non-tuberculosis illnesses of respiratory tract and anemia. One can visit High-Mountain Botanical Gardens, the branch of the Tbilisi Botanical Institute (founded in 1919) with the best collection of alpine flora in Europe.

 

5 Things Not to Miss:

1. Snowmobile sightseeing

2. Sledges and horse riding

3. Parks for kids

4. Panoramic views

5. Après ski

 

Source: Skigeorgia.ge

Jvari monastery in old capital – Mtskheta

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 53

According to local history, in the early fourth century a wooden cross was erected over a pagan sanctuary on a rocky mountaintop overlooking Mtskehta, the former capital of the Georgian Kingdom of Kartli-Iberia. The construction of the cross symbolized the fall of paganism and rise of Christianity in Georgia. In 545, a cruciform church, known as the Small Church of Jvari, was built just north of the cross. Between 586 and 605, a larger church was constructed directly above the site of the wooden cross, the base of which is still visible inside the church. Exceptional relief sculptures decorate the exterior façades of the Great Church. Their fine proportions and remarkable technique distinguished the sculptures from the earlier bas-relief carving common in the region. In 2004, the monastery was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta and was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009.

2006 World Monuments Watch

Greatly deteriorated from centuries of water damage, violent regional conflicts, and inadequate maintenance, Jvari Monastery was included on the 2006 World Monuments Watch. Missing its roof, the interior mosaics and frescoes of the small church have been largely destroyed by the elements. Heavy pressure from the upper walls and dome threaten the Great Church’s structural stability, while acid rain and strong winds had eroded the exterior bas-reliefs. In the late 1980s, restoration works on the small church were halted for fear of endangering the authenticity

of the church. Later restorations in 2002 were suspended for the same reason, having lost most of the original building records in a fire in 1991. In 2006, WMF supported the thorough documentation of the buildings and a study of the original construction and consequent interventions. The project allowed for the development of conservation guidelines for the monastery. A joint stone conservation and training project by Ministry of Culture and ICCROM established in 2005 worked on the conservation of the Great Church’s bas-reliefs, completed in October 2011. A proposal for the conservation of the small church and for the rehabilitation of visitor infrastructure was then submitted to the World Heritage Center.

Located at the precipice of a vertical cliff, Jvari Monastery is a remarkable sacred landmark visible from the ancient city Mtskheta. The building techniques and high standards of engineering, as well as the diverse decorative program, of the landscaped monastery exemplify exceptional centuries-old Georgian building practices alongside a wide range of Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. Although the tetraconch architectural type did not originate in Georgia, it underwent a unique and complex development in the country. The Great Church represents the peak of this architectural typology and serves as a model for numerous other churches. Jvari has been an important pilgrimage site since its founding and is considered one of the most sacred places in all of Caucasus. The Great Church is still used today for major celebrations.

 

Source: www.wmf.org

Georgia – ideal climate conditions for Icewine

Posted By : Georgian Tour/ 42

Georgia is widely considered as a cradle of wine. It is the country where the earliest evidence of grape wine-making was found. Telltale chemical signs of wine in the pottery jars, discovered in two Neolithic villages (called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora about 50km (30 miles) south of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia) dates back 5,980 BC. Previously, the earliest evidence of grape wine-making had been found in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and dated to 5,400-5,000 BC.

Icewine is believed to originate from Germany in the 1700s when freezing weather preceded the harvest and still, winemakers pressed the frozen grapes fermenting the juice to a sweet wine. The winemakers were impressed with the result and they decided to continue with the technique. The type of wine gradually evolved into a classical winter wine and spread throughout the world.

Georgia is one of those countries producing and exporting Icewine. The idea of producing Icewine in Georgia was initiated by one of the German consultants working at Marani, the only producer company of the wine in Georgia. Observing climate conditions in Georgia, the consultant was certain that the production would succeed.

Georgia is characterized by warm summers and cold winters that are ideal conditions for Icewine. Grapes are ripened in summer and frozen in winter. In order to make Icewine, Georgian winemakers do not harvest grapes until freezing weather sets in. Then, grapes are left to freeze naturally on the vine. After the water contained in grapes are frozen, the crops are harvested and pressed. What is produced from the frozen grapes is a small amount of sweet juice without any water.

As the amount of juice squeezed out of the frozen grapes is not impressive and a special pressing technology is required, the production of the wine is not massive and the price is quite high. Besides, it is focused on a limited number of consumers who love sweet wine.

 

Source: Georgianjournal.ge