Guest Wine Writer Series| № 2 |Sarah May Grunwald on Women of Georgian Wines

Guest Wine Writer Series| № 2 |Sarah May Grunwald on Women of Georgian Wines

Welcome to binNotes | red thread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Each first Friday of every month through 2016, I’ve invited some of my fellow wine writers the opportunity to join me here on binNotes | red thread™ to share a feature on some rare, obscure, or under-appreciated wine region for which they feel a special passion.

I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I do.

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Guest Writer Series | № 2|  Sarah May Grunwald on Women of Georgian Wines

This month, I’m honored to turn the page over to Sarah May Grunwald, professor of wine at Ikarus Vocational Academy in Tbilisi, official Georgian wine ambassador, and owner of the wine and food tour company Taste Georgia.

Today, Sarah May shares her feature on the women of Georgian wine, which originally appeared inflight for WizzAir.

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Women of Georgian Wine

By Sarah May Grunwald – Guest Writer

“Georgia is a country I found myself returning to six times in a year. Each visit allowed me more familiarity, discovery and intimacy. Situated at the eastern end of the Black Sea, in the heart of the Caucasus, this small yet incredibly diverse nation offers extraordinary mountains, ancient cities and monasteries, as well as wine regions, all connected by a rich cultural identity with feet firmly rooted in it an ancient and intense history. Its diversity is why I come back over and over again. The 8000-year wine history that Georgia proudly and strongly boasts makes it endlessly intriguing; it makes it the cradle of wine. 

Wine and viticulture are the link Georgians have to the past and to each other. Wine alone has survived substantial fundamental changes, both religious and cultural, it has seen empires and regimes rise and fall, and yet it remains constant. It is the connection of the people to the sacred land. Wine is a celebration. It is honored humbly in all homes, but also increasingly at public wine festivals such as the Tbilisi New Wine Festival.

I attended the 5th edition of the festival in early May 2015.  It’s an annual event that that brings over 60 different producers together including family producers, traditional qvevri producers, and larger modern commercial producers. It is a great family-oriented festival that is free to the public. Visitors even receive a wine glass to use for tasting. At its heart, the festival is a great opportunity for Georgians to appreciate and celebrate their 8000-year history, while also providing a chance for outside wine aficionados to taste a huge variety of wines and curious travelers to experience that famous Georgian hospitality. Among the tasting, socializing and traditional performances of song and dance, the highlight is the Qvevri Opening Ceremony. The qvevri is the centerpiece of traditional Georgian wine making and wine storage, and has been recognized by UNESCO as protected Intangible Heritage. The Georgian qvevri is the world’s oldest known wine vessel. It is a terracotta jar with a wide mouth that tapers at the bottom, which is then buried in the earth in a marani, or wine cellar. The qvevri was buried for 6 months right in the middle of Tbilisi. Watching the opening and drinking fresh from the qvevri is a huge honor, and a uniquely Georgian experience. 

Three newcomers to the festival are the pride of Georgian wine at the moment: three women who represent the new wave of Georgian wine. Tea Melanashvili, Marina  Kurtanidze and Mariam Losebidze are making their own wine, something that has traditionally been reserved for men. I had the opportunity to talk with them about their aspirations and the response from the community. 

Tea and Marina established Mandili winery in 2012 after finding great inspiration in other international female wine makers. Both women explained that they wanted to make a wine that was both Georgian and also conveyed the essence of being made by women. They chose the mtsvane grape because they both really love wines it results in and they were able to buy grapes from very healthy vineyards. They weren’t alone in the process. They had the help of friends and encouragement from fellow qvevri producers. In fact, they did not experience any kind of negativity in the tight knit wine community in Georgia and have only had encouragement from their colleagues and friends. Their wine not only represents a huge shift for women, it is extremely well made and delicious.

In the nearby Ateni Valley, 25-year-old Mariam bought grapes and made her first vintage in 2014 using organic Takveri grapes. The wine is made in the traditional Georgian way-  in qvevri. At 25, Mariam is an inspiration to young Georgian women with wine-making aspirations. Like the Mandili ladies, she wanted to make a wine that expressed both herself and the region. The wine community has been very encouraging of her, and the wine is fantastic. A well-made, fresh, fruity, complex mineral driven wine that dances on the tongue. She has aspirations to expand production and buy her own vineyards.

These three women mark a change in Georgian society that is embracing modernity while firmly holding onto its traditions. Wine is a sacred culture shared equally by all in Georgia. Wine-travel gives guests a unique opportunity to embrace and connect with a most authentic branch of Georgian culture, and it allows the visitor to taste the deep history backing the values of life shared by all Georgians. The annual Tbilisi New Wine Festival brings this culture together in the heart of the capital city, Tbilisi.  I’ve already started packing for the 2016 edition.”

Credit: Sarah May Grunwald.

Image: Sarah May Grunwald.

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Story and photos reprinted by permission of author, Sarah May Grunwald.

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | red thread™, All Rights Reserved.

 

Postscript From the Edge

Postscript From the Edge

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Postscript from the Edge

I’m currently on assignment…in the interim, please enjoy this video of the chorale in attendance at  La Paulée San Francisco 2016

(Bonus points to whomever can name the group’s official title…extra bragging rights for whomever can name the song, too…)

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NOTE: SAVE THE DATE!

Mark your calendar for these upcoming features you don’t want to miss:

April 1st: First Friday | № 2|  Women of Georgian Wines 

Featuring: Visiting Professor Sarah May Grunwald  | Taste Georgia

April 5th: Terroirist Tuesday | Burgundy 

Featuring: San Francisco La Paulée 2016 | Off the Grid vs. Grand Tasting 

April 13th: Second Sunday Sampler |№ 1 

Featuring: A  rotating selection of trade samples from artisan wine producers. 

April 15th: Terroirist Tuesday | Champagne

Featuring:Les Champagnes des Vignerons 2016 | Seattle 

See you back here soon…Santé!

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Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | Red Thread™.  All Rights Reserved.

OTBN: WWYBO?

OTBN: WWYBO?

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Ok, folks, tomorrow marks the last Saturday of February, which means it’s officially:

OTBN: Open That Bottle Night

OTBN

What will you be drinking?

Do tell!

I’ll be sharing, and following along on Instagram: #OTBN.

More on OTBN here.

Cheers!

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | Red Thread™. All Rights Reserved.

On the Road Again…

On the Road Again…

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

binNotes | Red Thread™ is on the road again crafting bespoke interviews with artisan wine maker and culinary luminaries worldwide.

Here’s a peek at my recent trip to Napa for the CANVAS (Concierge Alliance of Napa Valley and Sonoma) unveiling of their new consumer website www.discovernapasonoma.com.

Canvas

Spoiler alert: I’m a guest contributor – including my recent interview with Patz & Hall wine maker James Hall.

So many cool features on this site, including virtual tours of wineries, hotels, resorts, vineyards – plus a build-your-own-itinerary sharable on social media.

I encourage you to give it a test-drive.

Warning: Pairs well over a glass of wine….highly addictive!

Kudos to Colby Smith, tireless Queen of CANVAS, for the opportunity to collaborate with this amazing community of “professional recommenders.”

Cheers~

Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

by L.M. Archer, Foodable Contributor

Credit: Heavy Restaurant Group
Credit: Heavy Restaurant Group

My latest FoodableTV contribution showcases Bellevue and Seattle Purple Cafe & Wine Bar’s Wine Director and award-winning Sommelier, Chris Horn.

Award-Winning Seattle Sommelier Chris Horn Shares Secrets to Building a Successful, Seasonal Wine List

by L.M. Archer

Contemplating how to shake up your winter bar menu, and put a new twist on old standards? For sommeliers, stirring up a wine bar menu poses a different challenge. It’s not simply a matter of taste, but of terroir. How do you offer a world of wines without losing your audience, or your focus?

Here, FoodableTV talks to 2015 Washington State ‘Sommelier of the Year’ Chris Horn, Wine Director for Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in Seattle and Bellevue, about his secrets to crafting a successful seasonal wine list. Read more.

 

Copyrighted binNotes | L.M. Archer 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Le Rêve | Dreaming of #Burgundy

Le Rêve | Dreaming of #Burgundy

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.

by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML

Anne Parent, D. Parent
The incomparable Madame Anne Parent of Domaine Parent | Image: ©2014 L.M. Archer

“Never in Vain, Always in Wine!” – Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin

Burgundy lovers, unite! Catch the Virtual Burgundy Wine Tour today online, hosted by FoodWineClick.

Here’s binNotes’ contribution to the conversation – my Red Thread™ artisan wine maker series interview with Burgundy’s formidable Anne Parent of Domaine Parent.

And for those of you attending Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne this year, here’s a little trivia: Anne Parent  helped found Femmes & Vins de Bourgogne, (Women & Wines of Burgundy) which holds their tasting on 23 March 2016.

Always in Burgundy wine, indeed.

Santé~

Pssst…Join the conversation – leave your comments below!

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Copyrighted 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Special Thanks:

Jeff Burrows, Food Wine Click

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Hope you enjoy it with the ones you love, celebrating over a pour you love.

See you back here in 2016!

Copyrighted 2015. All Rights Reserved.