Best Wineries to Visit in Telavi

Georgia is home to a wine culture that dates back more than 8,000 years. It’s why wine is such an integral part of Georgian identity and culture from supras to church services. Wine regions within the country can be broken up into Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lekhumi, Kvemo Svaneti, Adjara, and Abkhazia. Among these, the most popular wine destination is the Kakheti region whose capital is Telavi.

Telavi is known for many things such as its Bronze Age origins, being a major cultural center for Georgia throughout the 10-12th centuries, the birthplace of King Erekle II, and of course, the heart of Georgian winemaking. You’ll find that the sleepy and charming town is busting at the seams with family cellars, backyard vineyards, and homages to ancient wine traditions, namely – qvevri. Our days in Telavi have been my favorite in Georgia thus far. The people, the wine, and the food are everything that makes Georgia so special and Telavi does those things wonderfully. I plan to continue updating this list as I visit more wineries that really knock my socks of but for now, these are the winners! Whether you are planning to visit Telavi on a quick overnight trip or plan to stay a few days, here are a few things to remember.

Opt for family wineries

Telavi and the entire region of Kakheti is chock full of family wineries. Cozy cellars tucked under centuries-old houses, ancient vineyards handed down through the generations, and an overwhelming sense of authenticity that just can’t be found in factories. Who wants to tour icy cold concrete dens of industrial tanks and conveyors when you can gawk at the stories behind the saints that dot the walls of ancient family cellars?

Space out your winery visits

Brett and I love wine. We drink it with nearly every dinner, and while we aren’t sommeliers by any means, we love trying new wines and pairings. We especially appreciate the history, tradition, love, and hospitality that goes into every bottle of Georgian wine. That said, Georgian hospitality is no joke. We thought we could handle two to three tastings per day while in Telavi and not be completely blitzed by 3 pm. We were dead wrong. These are not the fancy-schmancy wine tastings you’d get in Napa or Bourdeaux where you’re kindly sent on your way after your visit – these are down to earth experiences where the minutes quickly fade into hours. Before we knew it, we’d spent nearly the entire day at most of these wineries and had to reschedule some of our other tastings because we’d made new friends and just couldn’t leave.

What is qvevri?

Qvevri are clay vessels that are stored underground for wine fermentation. It is one of the oldest and most unique styles of winemaking in the world. The tradition can be traced back more than 8,000 years when Georgians first started producing wines. You’ll hear “qvevri” mentioned quite a bit when discussing Georgian wine, so just know that it is certainly a very special Georgian tradition.