Take our group tour of Georgia and discover 'The Cradle of Wine making'.


Georgia - The Cradle of Wine making

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 9 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Georgia is a hidden gem of Europe – in fact most people aren’t entirely sure whether it is actually in Europe. This trip encompasses the cultural heart primarily through the medium of food and wine. First we spend time in atmospheric Tbilisi and marvel at the numerous and diverse cultures that have left their mark on this city, from Ancient Persia and Medieval European crusaders to Imperial Russia and Ottoman Turkey and explore its delightful old city. We then travel to the ancient wine region of Kakheti, arguably the original home of all viticulture and taste the exquisite wines produced there and enjoy excellent local cuisine and even try your hand at cooking. We also will visit a number of fascinating historical sites on the tour including the magnificent 11th century Alaverdi Cathedral situated at the foot of the majestic High Caucasus range and surrounded by vineyards. Georgia is renowned for its local hospitality so travel with us on this cultural, historical and culinary adventure and discover this intriguing and stunning country where few outsiders are yet to venture.


Tour Rating 

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace

Busy 

Tour Highlights

  • Wander through the delightful old town of Tbilisi
  • Learn about the ancient traditions of Georgian wine-making and taste wonderful wines
  • Enjoy Georgian cooking masterclasses
  • Sample excellent local Georgian dishes
  • Explore fascinating historical sites such as Alaverdi Cathedral and David Gareji Monastery

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels with private bathrooms
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Tbilisi - You can arrive anytime on Day 1
End Point: Tbilisi - You can depart anytime on Day 9
Transport: Minibus or similar vehicle
Countries: Georgia 

Tour itinerary notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not merely passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies, it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK: we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip, but on occasions it may be advantageous to change the guide at one or more points during the tour. Small groups of 3 or less will have a driver/guide.

Day 1 - Arrival in Tbilisi

Arrive in Tbilisi and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure with no guided activities. Overnight Hotel Kopala or similar. No meals included.

Tbilisi

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Georgia's capital feels neither European nor Asian, but rather an invigorating fusion of both. Founded in the 4th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali on the site of its warm mineral-water springs, it rapidly developed into the principal city of the Caucasus. By the 12th century Tbilisi was one of the most important political, economic and cultural centres of the region. It stood as a key station on the famous Silk Road – right on the border between Europe and Asia. The city has a vaguely southern feel to it, with a relaxed atmosphere and an easy charm. In the old town, known as the Maidan, wooden houses with a distinctly Balkan feel overlook the stately Mtkvari River which dissects the city, at times through a deep gorge, and in the city centre there are imposing neo-classical and Art Nouveau buildings mingling incongruously with the inevitable Soviet-era concrete blocks. Gorgasali Square, on the opposite bank of the river to the Metekhi Church, was once the site of the old bazaar, and is an ideal place to start a walk taking in the sights of the city. A road from the Armenian Church on the south side of the square leads to the Narikala Citadel, built in 360 AD by the Persians, indicating the significant Middle Eastern influences here; it was severely hit by an earthquake in the 19th century. You can walk along the battlements of the citadel which offer rewarding views across the city. Tbilisi has a good range of restaurants and cafes strung out along both the left and right banks of the river where you can sample some of the local delicacies and watch the life of the city pass you by.

Day 2 – Tbilisi Sightseeing

Enjoy a guided walking tour around old Tbilisi, taking in the fascinating history of this long-overlooked region. You spend the day discovering sites such as the Narikala citadel, Metekhi Temple and Sioni Cathedral. After lunch we visit Sarajishvili Brandy Factory and have the opportunity to try some high-quality Georgian brandy. After the brandy tasting, visit Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square before enjoying traditional Georgian food at a local restaurant. During the meal we will also try some local wines. Overnight Hotel Kopala or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 - Tbilisi – Signaghi – Kvareli

After breakfast drive east towards Kakheti. Visit the picturesque town of Sighnaghi and take a stroll through this beautiful town admiring the fabulous views towards the High Caucasus range. Enjoy tasting wine at a local cellar producing artisanal natural wines according to ancient Georgian traditions. After lunch we travel to Kvareli where we visit another winery for some further tasting. Overnight at Hotel Chateau Kvareli or similar (BLD)

Wine in Georgia

Even for those who regard their wine knowledge as broad and inclusive, the vines of Georgia will, in all probability, have largely escaped them.  Incredibly, there is much evidence to suggest that Transcaucasian wine making may date back over 8,000 years, making it the probable home of the cultivation of grapes and production of wine – in fact the Georgian word ‘gvino’ gives us our modern name for the drink. Families widely produce wine on a small scale and the original Georgian method of underground fermentation in 'kvevri’ – large earthenware storage vessels is having a renaissance. Georgia now annually produces 150 million litres of wine in 18 specified areas, of which Kakheti is by far the largest and boasts the most celebrated and prized bottlings, including the excellent Kindzmarauli. Both whites and reds have traditionally veered towards the sweet, but this is evolving as the wine industry grows in influence and a wide range of styles and preferences are now catered for. International interest in Georgian wines is burgeoning, but you will certainly have access to a range of tastings which have yet to emerge beyond the region’s borders.

Day 4 – Kakheti Province

After breakfast we visit Nekresi Monastery, founded in the 4th Century. This will be followed by a winery visit before lunch. Return to Kvareli for lunch and visit Winery Khareba, tasting some excellent wines and an opportunity to participate in traditional Georgian bread making and also the churchkhela making process (a traditional candle shaped candy). Later there will be some time at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Chateau Kvareli or similar (BLD)

Day 5 – Kvareli – Telavi – Tsinandali – Kvareli

This morning, visit Ikalto Monastery and Academy founded in the 11th Century, where viticulture was taught. Continue to spectacular Alaverdi Cathedral 11th Century located in the shadow of the Greater Caucasus range. Enjoy some wine tasting at Telavi wine cellar and visit Tsinandali Residence and its lovely grounds dating from the 19th century. Lunch will be served at the Tsinandali. After lunch, travel back to Kvareli where there will be some time at leisure. Later, continue to a local farmer’s house to taste home-made wines and enjoy dinner with delicious home-made food. Overnight at Hotel Chateau Kvareli or similar (BLD)

Day 6: Kvareli - David Gareji Monastery – Tbilisi

Continue to the impressive partially rock-hewn David Gareji Monastery, situated in the Gareji semi-desert, 75km southeast from Tbilisi. The monasteries were founded in the 6th century. Visit Lavra and Peristsvaleba monasteries and then walk up to Udabno Monastery (subject to local permission) to explore some of the fine frescos of the 8-13th centuries and cave architecture After the visit, return to Tbilisi and the evening is at leisure to sample one of the many restaurants showcasing Georgian and regional cuisine. Overnight at Hotel Kopala or similar (BL)

Day 7 – Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Chateau Mukhrani – Tbilisi

Drive to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Mtskheta is packed full of historical monuments and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the 6th century Jvari Monastery. Continue to Chateau Mukhrani, known for the famous residence and winery of Prince Mukran Bagrationi, where we have the opportunity to taste Georgian wine. Return to Tbilisi where you evening is at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Kopala or similar (BL)

Mtskheta

Pronounced like 'skater' with the first two letters silent, Mtskheta is Georgia's spiritual heartland. Occupied for over 3,000 years, there is evidence of Greek, Hittite and Sumerian civilizations, and the hilltops around the town were the setting of several pagan shrines, which in later years had churches built upon the sites. The main cathedral of Sveti Tskhoveli was built in 1010 AD, but the first church on the site was constructed of wood in the 4th century AD. All the other churches in the town are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Day 8 – Tbilisi

After breakfast take the funicular for panoramic views of the city, followed by a visit to the National Museum which will give excellent context to the experiences from the tour. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax, go shopping or enjoy Georgian wine at a nice café. There will be a farewell dinner this evening at an excellent local restaurant and there will be local wines available to enjoy. Overnight at Hotel Kopala or similar (BD)

Day 9 – Tbilisi Departure

You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight (B)

If you wish to spend more time in Georgia please contact us for tailor-made extension options.

Tour inclusions/exclusions

Inclusions:

Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation
Transportation throughout
Services of English-speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary 

Excluded:

International flights
Travel Insurance
Visas if applicable
Drinks
Items of a personal nature
Tips (Discretionary)


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