Recently, a few Exeter International travel experts spent time exploring Central Asia and the Caucasus. (To see photos of our travel adventures, take a look at our Facebook albums here and here!) Exeter International’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Latin America, Joe, discovered new aspects of the ancient country of Georgia during this travel adventure: from fine food and wines steeped in a history of wine production, to a rich landscape dotted with small villages and cultural embellishments.
Joe writes: “I’d sampled a few delicious Georgian wines over the years in the U.S., as well as dined (read: stuffed myself) at a few Georgian restaurants in Russia, so along with my passport and comfortable shoes, I brought a healthy appetite with me to the capital city of Tbilisi. However, even my past enjoyment overseas didn’t fully prepare me for what I experienced while in Georgia!
Georgia is considered to be the cradle of wine-making, as archaeological finds suggest that wine production may have begun here as early as 6,000 BC – long before it reached the Mediterranean and western Europe! Early on our third full day, we left Tbilisi for the drive east to the historic Kakheti region, known for its stunning landscape, independent spirit, rich fertile soil, and the small villages specializing in wine making.
Don’t-miss destination: Signaghi, Georgia
Our destination was Signaghi– a small but charming town that I think is a must-see for visitors to Tbilisi. Its Old Town, with narrow streets and the 18th-century fortifications which once had 23 towers and several gates, has been perfectly preserved and makes for a wonderful place to stroll around and take in the relaxed ambiance of a storied city with plenty of history. We visited for the afternoon, but there’s a charming little hotel for those who might want to overnight for more time to appreciate the spectacular views of the region. Georgia is home to some of the most glorious landscapes anywhere in Eurasia.
Traditional Georgian Food and Wine: Lunch at Pheasant’s Tears winery
The highpoint of the afternoon was our visit to the Pheasant’s Tears winery. We were met by an expert from the winery who showed us how they have revived the traditional Georgian method of wine production – fermentation in clay containers in the ground, instead of oak barrels, followed by bottling without filtration. After the explanation, we had the chance to sample several of their traditional wines and national grape-based spirit, cha cha, accompanied by an absolutely amazing lunch of Georgian specialties – roasted eggplant and tomato, delicious fresh cheeses and vegetables, chicken in walnut sauce, khachapuri, and so much more.
Although the food and wine were expectedly amazing, equally so was the adjacent table of young Georgians who joined us for lunch and wine, treating us in between courses to impromptu performances of traditional dancing and music. It was a spectacularly authentic moment, one of many in a trip that left me deeply moved by the pride of Georgians in their country’s long and rich history and culture.”
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Begin planning your luxury travel to Georgia, Central Asia, or other exciting areas of the Caucasus today! Contact an Exeter International travel specialist by phone at (813) 251-5355 / (800) 633-1008 or visit our website to learn more about luxury travel through the leading luxury tour operator.