Picking grapes in Kachetia

Today is going to be a special day. Its is the last day of harvest in Georgia and we are invited to take part in this celebration with Gia’s family in Jimiti by helping to pick the last of this years grapes and joining in the feast afterwards.

At 8:30 a.m. we leave Tbilisi and turn of the main road direktly into the winefields afte about 80 km.

Grape picking is just the same as in Fischingen a few years ago. A jumble of people meet with buckets, kitchen knives and garden scissors and with a lot of laughter and sticky hands we cut those gorgeous grapes off the vine. The only difference: it is warm, dry and flat in Georgia while it used to be muddy, cool and steep in Fischingen…

Sweet and thick and warm from the sun…

Having worked for half an hour we are invited to a first picnic. We are presented with this wonderful traditionally baked bread, eggs, cheese, sausages, tomatoes, burgers, beans and fried potatoes. Additionally Chacha (a grape schnaps) and Water. It is tradition here that you seem to present a little blessing or thanks before you drink any alcohol.

Being so well cared for the next two hours of work fly by easily and we return to Gia’s parent’s farm. The electrical grape shredder has a little difficulties starting, so most of the party leave for a walk to the nearby St. George’s church and a small chapel on the surrounding hills to enjoy the look over the Kachetian plain.

In the early days the church was the center of the village until the inhabitants were made to move down the hill more or less willingly. Now the meadow of old Jimiti is dotted with small huts the history of which is as follows: The wine cellar was the heart of each family’s house as well as their wine being a kind of calling card. Traditionally here the wine is stored in socalled Qvevris (earthen amphorae), which for keeping moisture and temperature were buried in the earth. One of each family’s Qvevri was holy and this holy one was left where the family’s house was once standing. Marked and closed they were just dots on the landscape until more and more people gave them small new homes and started caring for them again on a more regular basis. Supposedly some of them are even filled again and if you find wine, you can take some.

Back on the farm about two hours later a veritable feast aweits us. Feasting is another good place to disgrace oneself. In Georgia it works like this: once you reach the usually brimming table you sit down and eat. No waiting or talking – just eat. You can also dring water. Then the wine is served and here many mistakes are possible. Here are some instructions:

1. A glass of wine is never completely filled nor completely empty – empty is reached by halving the contents.

2. If you drink wine this is accompanied by a blessing or toast reaching from thanking for a rich harvest, then friends, then family, then parent (living and dead) and can easily take a few minutes to be uttered.

3. When you heard “gaumarjos” you lift your glass and empty it in one go and it is refilled immediately. If you want to keep your senses, just leave the glass on the table. That’s alright but only sipping small amounts is not.

Luckily the glasses only contain about 0.1 l.

It was wonderful thank you.

This traditionally pressed wine tastes completely different to our normal clear and light white wines. Ulrich explains the taste very adequately by saying: Like Vinsanto but without the sweetness. I wonder whether it tastes as nice once we are at home. But we will surely bring a few bottles.

By 6:00 p.m. the premises are emptying. Having been warned to drive with doubled vigilance because of many such feasts in the region we depart for Tbilisi. IT turns out the warning was well due as there are quite some situations with cars not exactly staying in their lanes bu Ulrich takes us easily through the danger zone and we arrive quite safely. Driving in Georgia is hell but driving here with drunks is much much worse.

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