Kakheti (Georgia) is considered to be the center of winemaking, here there are the main vineyards and processing enterprises. Given this peculiarity of the region, the best time to visit Kakheti is autumn, since it is in the fall that a special, festive atmosphere reigns here, some wineries offer tourists to take part in the harvest. If you plan to visit Kakheti at another time of the year, you will have a fascinating journey through ancient celebrities and picturesque reserves.
Photo: Kakheti, Georgia.
Kakheti – general information
This is the richest region in Eastern Georgia. The Kakheti region is located 50 km from the capital in a northeast direction (85 km along the highway), a little more than 318 thousand people live here. The capital of Kakheti is the city of Telavi.
The historical events that took place in the Kakheti region are inextricably linked with the formation and formation of Georgian states. Kakheti, as an independent principality, was formed in the 8th century and developed independently until the 11th century. Then Kakheti joined Georgia.
The region is famous for its fertile, rich lands, pleasant, favorable climate, a huge amount of clean spring water and forests. It is not surprising that many centuries ago Kakheti received the status of the country’s main wine region. Vineyards grow along the entire Kakheti highway, and the wines produced here are famous far beyond the borders of Georgia. In total, about 70 varieties of wines are produced in the region.
The heart and soul of Kakheti is the Alazani Valley, which is generously irrigated by rivers.
Legend. Previously, the territory of Kakheti was covered with water, the population rose into the mountains, but the water did not recede. It was decided to lower an empty basket into the water and cut through the drain at the place where it would stop. This place turned out to be the Alazani channel. When the water level recovered, life in the region flourished, vineyards spread here.
It is important! If you want to try real Georgian wines with a rich flavor palette and luxurious aroma, visit all cities and villages of the region.
Undoubtedly, all the sights of Kakheti are saturated with the spirit and color of Georgia. Let’s take a walk through the most interesting of them.
The shrine is located in Sighnaghi. This is an ancient monastery, which is glorified thanks to St. Nino. The righteous woman lived for 5 years as a recluse, in a simple tent, not far from Bodbe. After her death, the saint was buried in the place where the tent stood. Over time, a temple and a whole monastery complex were erected here. It was here that some monarchs of Kakheti ascended the throne. Thanks to the efforts of the authorities in 1837, the richest diocese of Georgia was destroyed. Half a century later, Emperor Alexander III ordered the restoration of the monastery. Soon Bodwe became the largest temple in Kakheti.
Today, the monastery looks majestic and well-groomed, however, tourists and pilgrims come here not to enjoy the architecture, but to visit the burial place of St. Nino and drink water from a wonderful source.
It is important! On the territory of the monastery there is a pool where you can plunge. As a rule, this is done in a white shirt, you can bring it with you or buy in the temple. Do not squeeze the water from the shirt, it is considered healing. Be sure to bring a spare set of dry clothes with you.
Getting to the monastery is simple – you can walk from Sighnaghi (2 km) or take a taxi. If you walk, follow the highway in the direction of Tbilisi and look for the Bodva sign.
Minibuses regularly depart from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi, the main thing is to warn the driver to stop at the turn. The monastery closes at 19-00.
Believe me, you will immediately fall in love with a small town with bright roofs, which, as if, stuck to the mountain slopes.
Sighnaghi is a city of experiment. In the 18th century, the monarch Heraclius II ordered the resettlement of Armenians in this part of the country and ordered them to transform the village. The immigrants completed the task – a city appeared on the site of the village, but after a while it fell into decay. Thanks to the efforts of the Georgian authorities, Sighnaghi became one of the country’s tourist centers and turned into a winemaking center. The city is surrounded by an impressive wall on which 28 watch towers are built. They are open to the public, offering stunning views of the entire valley.
It is important! If you are looking for where to stay in Kakheti, pay attention to Sighnaghi. There are luxury European-style hotels and inexpensive guesthouses. Restaurants are also designed for any wallet. By the number of hotels, Sighnaghi is the third after the capital and Batumi.
You can get from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi by minibus, they follow with a break of 1 hour until 18-00. The fare is 5 GEL, the journey takes about 2 hours.
This is the most famous and revered attraction in the country, impressive walls stretch for 25 kilometers. The shrine is located on the Gareji Ridge – on a plateau in an uninhabited area.
There are temples built between the 14th and 16th centuries. The attraction is located almost on the border with Azerbaijan, moreover, some parts of the shrine are still considered a disputed territory.
Special attention among pilgrims and tourists enjoys the Lavra of St. David. It can be seen from above that the Lavra was built in the shape of a cross. Here is the grave of David of Gareja himself.
There are other monasteries in the shrine – Dodos-Rka, Natlismtsemel, Udabno, Chichkhituri and Bertubani. The monastery was destroyed many times, but each time it was restored. Today it is an active monastery, the walls of which are decorated with frescoes.
You can get to the monastery as follows – from Tbilisi to Gardabani or Rustavi, and then by taxi to the complex. Distance from Tbilisi 60 km.
This monastery complex is unique for three reasons at once:
- This is the first place in Georgia where they adopted Christianity;
- Here is the oldest church of John the Baptist;
- from the top offers an amazing view of the Alazani Valley.
Despite the fact that only a few buildings have been preserved on the territory of the complex, each of them is a historical and architectural treasure.
The complex also includes a basilica – the Church of the Virgin Mary, its walls are painted with frescoes. Of course, tourists visit the wine repository.
Entrance to all the temples and churches of the complex is free, most importantly, behave appropriately.
The most convenient way to get to the shrine is the Telavi-Kvareli minibus, the journey takes only 30 minutes. Warn the driver to stop near the sign. Then you have to walk 2 km. At the entrance you can buy candles, souvenirs and wine (a bottle will cost an average of 9-10 GEL). A serpentine leads to the Lavra, you can rise on your own or take a minibus. Round trip only 1 GEL. The attraction is open daily from 10-00 to 19-00.
The house museum is one of the most emblematic places in Georgia. It was here that the Europeanization of the country began, and the first wine began to be produced here. Garsevan Chavchavadze, the organizer of Georgia’s accession to Russia, lived in the estate. Pushkin and Griboedov came here. Near the museum there is a wine repository, a garden with Christmas trees.
The building is a 19th-century building, for several centuries the Chavchavadze family owned the estate, today it is the home of the diplomat Alexander Chavchavadze. The atmosphere and the story of the guide will take you to the period of the “golden” century.
The wine cellar stores 16 thousand bottles of collection wine, which can be tasted. The oldest bottle was bottled in 1814.
The house museum is located in the north-eastern part of Tsinandali. The distance to Telavi is only 8 km. Entrance costs from 2 to 20 GEL depending on the services you have chosen. The museum is open from 10-00 to 19-00.
The largest in the country and even in Europe – its area exceeds 80 hectares. Almost the entire territory of Tusheti is a national park. You can get here from Ahmet and from Telavi.
The main difference between the park area – there are villages in which people now live. Admission is free, tourists often come here with tents.
In the park you can see stands with developed excursion routes, they indicate the mileage of the route. In addition to the national park in Tusheti, there are very beautiful mountains, rare varieties of roses and rhododendrons grow.
You can only get here by jeep, and the best ride in the park is on horseback. If you rent a jeep with a group of 5-6 people, the cost will cost 50 GEL each.
Located in the east of the country and borders with Azerbaijan and Russia. In 2005, the park was given the status of national.
The park zone attracts a large number of subtropical and alpine plants, lakes and waterfalls. On its territory there is an ancient abandoned fortress Machi.
In the park you can choose one of four routes for a walk. If you wish, you can call in the park for 3 days and visit:
- alpine meadows;
- former weather station;
- mountain range;
- Black Rocks Lake;
The shortest route is from the main entrance to the Black Grouse waterfall. During the hot season, you can swim in the waterfall, cool water refreshes and improves your mood.
All park routes are marked on the stands in different colors.
You can get to the park from Tbilisi – there is a direct minibus, ticket price is 7 GEL. The main gate is located in the northern part of the city, you can walk along Vashlovanskaya street. The second gate in the area of the village of Ninigori and the third – near the village of Mitsimi.
Entrance to the park is free, but you will have to pay for setting up a tent and renting a horse. There are inexpensive guesthouses near the park. In general, Kakheti is a hot and dry region, in the middle of which tropical greens and coolness unexpectedly meet.
If you are interested in what to see in Kakheti, be sure to take the time to visit the wineries.
Opens our rating “The best wineries of Kakheti” Kvareli tunnel. The liquor store is housed in a tunnel that is made directly into the wall. In addition to the store, there is a tasting room and a small but interesting exposition. Tourists are brought here for excursions.
Information on the length of the tunnels in different sources is different, according to some reports they stretch for 7 km, and for others – 11 km. You won’t be able to find out the real length, because tourists are shown only a small area with a length of only 700 meters.
Sightseeing buses bring tourists directly to the entrance to the tunnel. The cost of the tour depends on what interests you:
- regular tour – 7 GEL;
- excursion and tasting of 2 wines – 12 GEL;
- excursion, tasting 4 wines and chachi, culinary master class (bread and churchkhela) – 40 GEL;
- excursion, tasting 6 wines, culinary master class and barbecue – 70 GEL.
Wine must be served with nuts, cheese and honey.
Path to the Kvareli Tunnel – follow from Kvareli in the direction of Lagodekhi, cross the bridge, take a turn to Gurjaani and then turn left according to the sign.
It is important! The tunnel is only +14 degrees, so stock up on warm clothes.
It is one of the largest wine factories in Kakheti. It is located in the center of Kvareli. The plant owns a vast territory of 300 hectares, where wine storage facilities, a private product store, tasting rooms, a restaurant and a hotel are located.
The oldest buildings of the corporation date back to 1533, but the main production facilities are modernized, modern equipment.
It is important! Pay attention to the prices in the store – they are usually an order of magnitude lower than prices in the capital.
If you wish, you can visit the museum, where real clay qvevri, traditional press and oak barrels are displayed as exhibits.
It is important! Wine tasting is free here, 4-5 grades of wine are poured in the hall. The traditional scheme is to go to a restaurant and order food, go on an excursion, taste drinks and return to the restaurant where cooked food is waiting.
The main entrance to the plant at the address: Kvareli city, Chavchavadze street, house 55. The plant is open from 9-00 to 18-00.
The company was founded at the end of the last century. Today it is one of the most solid and large wineries in the country. Most of the products are oriented to the VIP segment and are exported. In other words, you can only purchase an original product at the factory.
The company is located near the Hareb tunnel. It produces famous brands of wines – Tsinandali, Khvanchkaru, Tsinandali, Hereti, Pirosmani, Mukuzani. The best grape varieties are used in production – Saperavi, Rkatsiteli and Alexandrouli.
Excursion groups enter the room once every 30 minutes:
- sightseeing tour – free;
- tasting 7 wines – 10 GEL;
- ordering a feast – 25 GEL per person (the price includes 1 liter of any wine presented at the tasting);
- tasting, feast and master classes – 40 GEL.
It is important! In the fall of 2016, a tour of Graneli was recognized as the most interesting and informative in the Kakheti region.
The road to Graneli – follow from Kvareli to the south, cross the Bursa river (there is a bridge) and after 400 meters there will be a circle, choose the east direction (follow the Wine Route sign). Minibuses from Samgori station follow from Tbilisi to Kvaleri, the fare will cost 8 GEL.
The famous Kakheti winery is located on the outskirts of the small settlement of Tsinandali, not far from the Chavchavadze house-museum. The distance to Telavi is 8 km. It produces such varieties of wines as Tsinandali, Saperavi, Kindzmarauli and Mukuzani. On the territory of the plant there is a museum, an open tasting room, a shop and a grape plantation where special grape varieties are grown. The tasting is free.
It is important! The best Kindzmarauli wines can be bought here.
Be sure to visit the museum, where exhibits are on the ground floor, and in the basement there is a wine warehouse. In addition to wine, cognac, chacha and port are offered at the tasting.
The company, founded in 2007, is located near the village of Tibaani. This is a joint Georgian-American enterprise that produces 9 brands of wine. John Wiederman, an American co-owner of the company, first visited Georgia in 1995 and has not left it since. Here he met with Gela Patalishvili. Together they bought vineyards and launched a winery. Today, plant grape plantations are located throughout Kakheti.
In Signagi there is a company restaurant and a hall where you can taste products.
You can find the plant at the address: Sighnaghi city, Baratashvili street, 18.
When is the best time to go?
The weather is rather arid, the valleys look dull, as if scorched. Air temperature +30 degrees.
This is the best time to visit the wine region. September weather resembles the climate of central Russia in the summer. In the afternoon, the air warms up to +25 degrees, and in the evenings you can dine in the open air. In October it gets cooler – the air temperature is +20 degrees. In November, the temperature drops to +15 degrees, the rains begin.
At this time, the sky is often covered by viruses, landscapes look dull and boring. If you dare to come, take rubber boots with you, you will not lose.
In March, the air temperature is only +10 degrees, in May the air warms up to +25 degrees. If you want to catch the moment of awakening of amazing nature, come to Kakheti in April.
Despite the rather low temperature, Kakheti in winter is an incredibly attractive sight. From the heights of the hills offers a magnificent view. The air temperature does not fall below -5 degrees. If you freeze, you can always visit the wine cellar.
How to get there
Given that the distance from Tbilisi to Kakheti is only 85 km, the region is accessible for visiting throughout the year. You can always choose for yourself the most profitable way for the price and duration.
First of all, you need to fly to Tbilisi (Shota Rustaveli International Airport). As a rule, tourists take two cities as a final destination for their trip – Sighnaghi or Telavi. Let’s figure out how to get from Tbilisi to Kakheti.
In Tbilisi you need to get to Samgori bus station (located at the metro station with the same name). Minibuses depart from 9-00 to 18-00. 6 flights follow daily. Duration 2 hours, ticket costs 6 GEL.
It is important! All minibuses come to the city center. Sighnaghi is a small settlement, all sights can be bypassed. Tourists take a taxi when they plan a trip to neighboring cities.
In Tbilisi you need to get to the bus station Ortachala (address – Gulia street, 2). Minibuses depart from 8-20 to 19-50 with a break of 40 minutes. The fare will cost 7 GEL. Minibus is in the center of Telavi.
It is important! City transport between the cities of Kakheti does not go well, so many tourists rent a car.