Georgia & Wine
Georgia is a country with a variety of natural resources, and with a favorable geo-political location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. These features make the country attractive for investment in many industries. Food processing is considered a major Georgian industry. Several branches of Georgia’s food industry used to belong to the most developed food industry sectors within the former Soviet Union. Georgian products like wines, canned vegetable and fruit, citrus juice, mineral water, tea and several brands of cheese, were commodities in great demand not only in the Soviet Republics but also in Eastern Europe. Both the climate and soil characteristics produce high quality food, in particular, grapes, vegetables, and fruit. Some of the sub-sectors of the food industry interest foreign traders. The priority list for the most promising export commodities and branches is as follows:
1. Wine, champagne, and brandy processing;
2. Fruit and vegetable processing;
3. Mineral water bottling, soft drink and citrus juice production;
4. Tea production and processing;
5. Dairy and meat production;
6. Essential oils.
Georgia has a strong winemaking tradition, producing a wide range of products including white and red table wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines and brandy. Miocene deposits in the Akhaltsikhe district of Georgia and found in the Bronze-aged tombs of other paleobotanical and archaeological data indicate the long existence of wine in Georgia. Under the former Soviet command economy, Georgia, along with Moldova, were the main wine producers. About 70 percent of Georgian wine was exported to other parts of the Soviet Union making the wine sector a leading export. The sector was controlled and managed centrally by the State Industrial Corporation of Viticulture and Wine Making (Samtrest).
In 1999, London held a running exhibition, wine town – Vini police, the first exhibition on a large scale devoted to the history of the vine and wine. The exhibition is an odyssey on the origin and development of the 8000-year old, very rich and interesting history of the culture of viticulture and winemaking. The wine odyssey begins in the Georgian pavilion and is called the “Cradle of Wine.”
With the break up of the Soviet Union and moves to adopt a more market-oriented economy, the Georgian government believes that the wine industry has the potential to become an important source of export earnings. In seeking to achieve this objective, however, it recognized that the transition from a command to a market economy would be difficult, and the sector faced some problems. In order to assist in solving these problems the Georgian government privatized almost all wineries in the republic.