For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture

For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture

For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture

For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey through the World's Most Ancient Wine Culture


In 2011 when Alice Feiring first arrived in Georgia, she felt as if she'd emerged from the magic wardrobe into a world filled with mythical characters making exotic and delicious wine with the low-tech methods of centuries past. She was smitten, and she wasn't alone. This country on the Black Sea has an unusual effect on people; the most passionate rip off their clothes and drink wines out of horns while the cold-hearted well up with tears and make emotional toasts. Visiting winemakers fall under Georgia's spell and bring home qvevris (clay fermentation vessels) while rethinking their own techniques.

But, as in any good fairy tale, Feiring sensed that danger rode shotgun with the magic. With acclaim and growing international interest come threats in the guise of new wine consultants aimed at making wines more commercial. So Feiring fought back in the only way she knew how: by celebrating Georgia and the men and women who make the wines she loves most, those made naturally with organic viticulture, minimal intervention, and no additives.

From Tbilisi to Batumi, Feiring meets winemakers, bishops, farmers, artists, and silk spinners. She feasts, toasts, and collects recipes. She encounters the thriving qvevri craftspeople of the countryside, wild grape hunters, and even Stalin's last winemaker while plumbing the depths of this tiny country's love for its wines.

For the Love of Wine is Feiring's emotional tale of a remarkable country and people who have survived religious wars and Soviet occupation yet managed always to keep hold of their precious wine traditions. Embedded in the narrative is the hope that Georgia has the temerity to confront its latest threat--modernization.


When I told people that I was traveling to Georgia for wine, invariably the response was, “Great!” Then came the look of confusion as they did a double take and asked, “Umm, how far from Atlanta are the vines?”

“The country of,” I’d say, then further clarify that this Georgia was not in the United States. “It’s the one under the Caucasus mountain range, not the Blue Ridge.”

“Really? They make wines there?”

They sure do, and I adore them.

Georgia is a small and rich country, about the size of West Virginia. On the west is the Black Sea. To the north lies Russia. On the southeast is Azerbaijan and to the south are Armenia and Turkey. Save for Russia (even though it does refer to its vodka as wine) all of those countries have an ancient winemaking heritage; wine origins seem to be in that zone. and they are all clamoring to be called the region of origin of wine. But Georgia might have an advantage. Now sitting in the National Museum in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi is the oldest cultivated grape seed, which carbon dating puts between six and eight thousand years old. But whoever ultimately wins that “We’re the oldest” race, Georgia, with its 525 or so indigenous grapes, has the longest unbroken winemaking history. They say it has eight thousand vintages.

What tenacity, despite being battered through centuries by the . . .

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