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Our Georgia Wine Tour 2024
I simply love Georgia – the country, not the US state, although the Peachtree State does have its charms as well.
And others do too. Since my first visit in 2006, tourist arrivals have shot up from 980,000 to over 7 million in 2019, and now it is your turn to see why this small country, ticked away at the end of Europe is attracting s many visitors and such fabulous reviews.
This will be my twenty-second visit to the country, and I would love to have you join me to explore some of the more interesting and hidden tourism gems.
Once again, I will be strictly limiting the group to a maximum of twelve participants, and if you would like to join, I would urge you to contact me as soon as possible. Our 2023 tour was a fine success, and I look forward to May 2024.
May 21: Arrive in Tbilisi and transfer to our hotel. Please note that the room will be available from 1400 on May 21st. Flight arrivals into Tbilisi are somewhat eccentric and are often at 0300 or thereabouts. In this case, you will be transferred to the Iota Hotel for a “short night”.
May 22: Following breakfast, we will stretch our legs and take a walking tour of Old Tbilisi with lunch at a local café. In the afternoon a visit to the Simon Janashia Museum to examine their ancient gold artifacts, and following a short rest period, we will enjoy dinner, with traditional Georgian music, at a local restaurant.
May 23: Today we will take a full day touring out of Tbilisi and first visit the ancient capital city of Mtskheta and the exquisite monastery complex that remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Lunch will be at a restaurant in the town.
These UNESCO sites, including the adjoining Dzalisa archaeological dig, are fascinating examples of the long history of the country, from the agrarian life of the first century AD to the development of modern Georgia. Once we return to Tbilisi, the evening will be free.
May 24: We will check out of our hotel this morning and head west from Tbilisi, travelling on some picturesque mountain roads. Stopping for a while in Chiatura, a fascinating town, formerly a vital Soviet mining centre, and today a forgotten bywater with its rusting cable cars and fascinating Soviet history. We continue toward Kutaisi. In the evening we will walk to our dinner at a central location in the city from our accommodation at the Newport Hotel.
May 25: The Kutaisi Farmers’ Market is a fabulous place to meet local people, taste local produce and take some amazing photographs, and it will be the first stop of the morning. Later we will visit the Gelati Monastery, an important centre of learning and wine making from the 12th century; it is a masterpiece of Medieval Georgia, and again highlights the vital interlink between wine and religion in the evolution of Georgian culture.
Lunch today will be with a small local producer in the village of Zeindari, and later we will move on to Tskaltubo, an old Soviet spa town rich with period sanatoriums, some restored and some crumbling. We will return to Kutaisi for the evening.
May 26: Today we head back east and first visit the studio of a qvevri maker. Qvevri are the clay vessels that have been used for 8,000 years to make, ferment and store wine. There are few masters still making these amphora, but we will meet Zaliko Bojadze, one of the best, and see how this fascinating process works.
Later we will see the curious, cave town of Uplistsikhe, dating from about 500 BC and carved into a rocky plateau. Here you will see large halls, echoing streets, chapels, water supply systems and Georgia’s oldest market. A truly remarkable experience.
Our overnight accommodation will be in the mountains at Nika Vacheishvili’s guest house. This gorgeous mountain retreat makes a perfect backdrop for an evening of fine food and wine tasting.
May 27: Today is our longest drive as we cross the country, bypassing Tbilisi, on our way to Sighnaghi, a stunning 18th century town nestled on a high ridge, overlooking the Alazani Valley and the Great Caucasus Mountains.
On our way across the country, a total drive of about four hours, we will stop at a couple of interesting sites of the ancient fortifications and the Ateni Sioni cathedral. Along the way, we will be stopping for lunch, and wine tasting at a local family wine cellar.
Accommodation inn Sighnaghi for three nights will be at the Kabadoni Hotel.
May 28: We will explore this gorgeous town on foot, and see the twisty cobblestone streets, the colourful roofs and balconies and its remarkable carved wall. There is also a small, but most interesting ethnographic museum here, home to a rich collection of local artifacts.
Lunch will be at the Cozy Pomegranate, a restaurant at the famous Pheasant’s Tears Winery, and an opportunity to see the operation of one of Georgia’s most successful natural wine makers. The evening will be free.
May 29: After breakfast we will head to the regional capital of Telavi. The town has been settled since the Bronze Age and offers a wide and comprehensive selection of cultural monuments and artifacts. We will visit the 19th century estate of the Chavchavadze family. The father, Alexander, was a poet and a public figure, and his estate is expansive and delightful. The wine cellar here holds over 1,500 bottle (not for our tasting), but fascinating, nonetheless.
We will have lunch at the private house of the artist Gia Togonidze, who, in addition to being a fine artist, started making wine a few years back, and with extraordinarily good results.
This evening we will have our farewell dinner at Pheasant’s Tears. It will be an evening of fine Georgian food, polyphonic music, cultural traditions from the Silk Road and a selection of traditional toasts.
May 30: We check out of the hotel this morning, and drive to the ancient and deeply unusual 6th century monastery of David Gareji. The site lies on the Georgian / Azerbaijan border and will take the morning to reach it and explore the site. The monastery has been a very important religious centre for the Georgian Church and remains active until today.
Our lunch will be at a small restaurant in Udabno, and in the afternoon the drive back to Tbilisi where we will check into our hotel.
There are no planned activities this evening; some may have very early departures and wish to rest, and others, leaving on later flights can choose to explore on their own.
Add a few days in Tbilisi
Please note that additional nights in Tbilisi are available upon request, and indeed are highly recommended. Passengers from North America will have a eight to ten-hour time difference, and a day or two to decompress is advisable. Further, Tbilisi is a magical city, and time spent wandering and exploring will never be regretted.
This program, offered in conjunction with our Georgian partners, Living Roots Travel, is designed to introduce you to many parts of Georgia that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach on your own. We will visit small, intimate wineries, be hosted by private families and have the opportunity to reach deeply into the culture and way of life of this remarkable country. It is a very personal tour, and we look forward to introducing you to the very soul of Georgia.
4 nights in Tbilisi at the Hotel Iota
2 nights in Kutaisi at the New Port Hotel
1 night in the Ateni Valley at Nika Vacheishvili’s guest house
3 nights in Sighnaghi at the Hotel Kabadoni
Daily breakfast, nine lunches and five dinners, multiple wine tastings
Transportation in a private coach as per the itinerary
Fully escorted throughout the journey
Local arrival and departure transfers
All entry fees and local site guides.
Meals unless otherwise noted
Items of a personal nature: laundry, phone calls etc.
The Price: US$2,770 per person/double occupancy. (Single supplement: $500)
Tbilisi: Additional nights in Tbilisi are available for US$150 per room per night.
A non-refundable deposit of US$500 per person is required to secure space on the tour. The final payment will be due no later than April 2nd, 2024. Any credit card payments will be subject to a 4% handling fee.
We are delighted to work on this program in conjunction with Around the World in 80 Ways, a full-service travel agency who will be delighted to assist with flights, tour extensions and travel insurance that you need to arrange.
For further information about this tour, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . For assistance with airfares or additional travel requirements, Irene Neustaedter at +1 204 987 2847 / 1 866 477 2578 or by email at irene@80Ways.com