THE GRAPE HARVEST

This year’s grape harvest has begun in Georgia. The process of picking grapes and making wine, together with the accompanying celebrations, is called Rtveli (Georgian: რთველი) and marks the end of the agricultural cycle for the year. Rtveli involves almost everyone in Georgia. Wine is produced by thousands of small vineyard farmers (using primarily traditional techniques of wine-making), as well as by modern wineries.

President Saakashvili and his son Nikoloz harvesting grapes

President Saakashvili and his son Nikoloz harvesting grapes

Ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, helped President Saakashvili and his son harvest the grapes at the President’s vineyard in Kvareli (Georgian: ყვარელი) in Georgia’s Khaketi region.

The Ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, helped with the grape harvest

The Ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, helped with the grape harvest

Traditional wine-making involves pressing the grapes in a long wooden tub called Sacnakheli. The Sacnakheli has a hole at one end to drain off the grape juice. Putting grapes into a long wooden tub (Sacnakheli) at President Saakashvili's Vineyard.

Putting grapes into a long wooden tub (Sacnakheli) at President Saakashvili’s Vineyard.

The juice from the grapes flows into clay vessels called Kvevri, that are buried in the ground in a special place called a Marani that is used to make and store wine. The process of leaving grape juice to ferment in Kvevri is thousands of years old.

President Saakashvili and Ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, treading grapes.

President Saakashvili and Ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, treading grapes.

President Saakashvili’s Marani - place for making and storing wine.

President Saakashvili’s Marani – place for making and storing wine.

Photos courtesy of the President’s Administration.

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