When pondering the origins of winemaking, Georgia may not be the first country that springs to mind.
However, this tiny nation of the Caucasus, nestled on the edge of the Black Sea, has been making the intoxicating liquid with a great degree of success for over 8,000 years.
The Georgian wine making technique, or Qvevri as it is properly known, is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the sixth millennium BC.
It is believed only China can trace the routes of its wine making industry back further – and some sources even go as far as to suggest that the word ‘wine’ derives from the Georgian word ghvino.
“Why drink water, if you can drink wine. Why drink wine, if you can drink great wine!” - a Georgian toast
Whatever the case – the stuff certainly is delicious.
Fast forward to present day, and the traditions of winemaking and drinking are firmly ingrained in Georgian culture, forming a cornerstone of the national identity of the 3.5 million people who call the country home.
From lavish supras (feasts) hosted by a cheerful tamada (toastmaster), whose job it is to guide guests through numerous toasts, to gastronomy and architecture, wine plays a key role in nearly all aspects of Georgian life.
Production is concentrated in the region of Kakheti, which is responsible for two thirds of Georgian wine.
Among most notable sites in the region is the Tsinandali Estate, located just an hour’s scenic mountainous drive from the capital, Tbilisi.
Formerly a place of residence for prince Alexander Chavchavadze (1786–1846), a poet, benefactor and the founder of Georgian Romanticism, the estate played host to a multitude of literary giants of the era.
Alexander Pushkin, Michail Lermontov and Alexander Dumas were all frequent guests at Tsinandali.
Notably, Alexander Griboedov, writer of Woe from Wit also briefly called the place home, marrying Chavhavadze’s daughter, Nino, two weeks before his own death in Tehran.
A Veuve Griboedov Rose has been created to commemoration their love.
Chavchavadze built Georgia’s oldest and largest winery at Tsinandali, where he combined European and centuries-old Georgian winemaking traditions.
It was at Tsinandali in 1841 where the first wine was bottled, starting the country’s wine export business.
The highly regarded dry white Tsinandali is still produced there following the original recipe.
Since 2007, Tsinandali estate has been under the patronage of the Silk Road Group, which has played a large role in the renovation of the historic site and adjacent areas.
As part of the regeneration project, the location welcomed the opening of Radisson Collection Hotel, Tsinandali Estate in early 2019.
“The Tsinandali Estate, A Radisson Collection hotel is a welcome addition to our expanding portfolio in Georgia; offering its guests a unique authentic experience and our owners the opportunity to develop an individualised property that benefits from a global network,” explains Elie Younes, chief development officer of Radisson Hotel Group.
The new-build property, situated on the grounds of an English arboretum, features 141 modern rooms over four floors with seasonally inspired decor.
The dark but warm colour palette creates a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere, as if almost to convey the famous spirit of Georgian hospitality.
The floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a majestic view of the Caucasus mountains, towering over the golden leafed trees in the autumn sun.
Even the most pragmatic soul will not be able to withstand the romantic charm.
A delicate balance between old and new has been skilfully preserved throughout the building.
“It was clear to me, that we had to stay away from any kind of tendencies.
“My team and I tried to avoid any kind of banality.
“The place has a very strong aura and any mistaken decision, which would hurt this already existing harmony, would have been a criminal act,” general manager, Ingo Mauer, muses.
The Library Bar features vintage atlases, books and lighting, while at the same time the lobby, which was part of the original Chavchavadze house, has been transformed into a rustic open space.
It has the colour of a Qvevri vessel and, of course, a grape vine sits proudly on display on one of the walls.
The concept was developed by German interior designer, Ingo Maurer, working alongside Spanish and Mexican architects Christina Gabas and Damien Figueras.
Bringing some local flavour, Georgian conceptual artist and sculptor, Tamara Kvesitadze, contributed her skills, while the whole thing was carried out in collaboration with the Georgian National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
Today, the estate boasts exclusive meeting and event facilities, with over 2,000 square metres on offer in total.
The amphitheatre, which recently hosted an inauguration party for Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili, is the perfect spot for weddings, live music and conferences.
If you are looking for more ways in which to ingest wine, the onsite spa has the answer.
The menu offers a one-of-a-kind wine massage, where guests can choose between red, white and rose for their treatment.
The products used incorporate the grape seed oil of the local varieties and are meant to have anti-ageing properties.
In the post-treatment relaxation room, guests are offered a cup of ‘wine tea’ to round out the whole experience.
A short walk away from the hotel is the historic Tsinandali winery, where 40 hectares of vineyards currently produce 160 tonnes of grapes a year.
The vineyards of the Tsinandali Estate have seen major renovations in recent years, to ensure the preservation of the region’s legacy as the cradle of Georgia’s classical winemaking.
Here, among other varieties, guests can sample the amber wine unique to Georgia as well as try their hand at making churchhela (a kind of candle-shaped candy).
Radisson Collection Tsinandali Estate is a truly unique property.
Surrounded by vast natural beauty and steeped in vivid and dramatic history, it offers the whole of Georgia in a nutshell.
Located in the heart of Georgia’s renowned wine country, the Radisson Collection Hotel, Tsinandali Estate Georgia in Kakheti invites guests to explore the many vineyards as well as the region’s rich history from one exclusive vantage point.
The property features an on-site wine yard and its own historical winery, while additional features include a spa on the top floor, an outside swimming pool, indoor and open-air ballrooms and a neighbouring historic 18-hectare park.
Find out more on the official website.