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Archaeology in Georgia

Returning to the birthplace of wine growing at the Cité du Vin

Vendredi 11 août 2017 par Vitisphere

Returning to the birthplace of wine growing at the Cité du Vin
As guest of honour, the “world’s oldest wine region” is showing Bordeaux visitors evidence of the first known traces of wine growing, dating back 8,000 years ago.

On July 31, the Cité du Vin opened its first temporary exhibition dedicated to a wine region. After focusing on its own construction (giving carte blanche to Isabelle Rozenbaum) and the social structure of cafés with “Bistrot! From Baudelaire to Picasso”, the Bordeaux wine tourism centre is exhibiting “Georgia, the cradle of wine growing” until November 4.

“From a cultural and civilizational perspective”, the tour allows visitors to discover the earliest objects linked to vine growing and wine making, some of which date back to the 6th century BC.

The themed exhibition deals with the “roots of Georgian wine growing” but also the ties between Georgian wine and the succession of kingdoms, particularly those of Colchis and Iberia. It also focuses on wine’s place in religious beliefs, without restricting itself to the Christian era, and in day-to-day life, namely the ‘marani’ or domestic cellar that is home to the kvevris or underground terracotta tanks.

Guest of honour

As guest country, Georgia is entirely funding the exhibition dedicated to its wine industry, via its Agriculture Ministry. And when visitors pay for admission to the permanent tour, they can visit the temporary exhibition free of charge. The exhibition will also include conferences, tastings and performances. The Caucasian republic is seeking to position itself as a wine nation after its reputation was undermined by intensive production during the Soviet regime and recent Russian boycott.

The Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilisations has so far established 47 partnership agreements with wine regions around the world. There are four levels of involvement: as a wine purveyor for tasting events and the Belvédère wine bar; a participant in the ‘Wine on Thursday’ conferences; a host of weekend events dedicated to a wine region; and, right at the top, guest country status, with a cultural exhibition for three months.

The exhibition also takes a look at the social role of wine in Georgia in more recent times, like this photo of a kvevri taken by Dimitri Ermakov (19th-20th centuries).

Photo credit: National Museum of Georgia

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