Once again, Georgians across the country are preparing for the holiday season, making travel plans, crushing walnuts for gozinaki, and buying gifts for their friends and families. Gifts are an important part of celebrating the New Year and Christmas, signifying the importance of friendship and allowing us to treat our loved ones to something to start a brand new year in style.
The Georgian wine industry had a couple of very good years in 2013 and 2014, following the opening of the Russian market. Exports skyrocketed, prices of grapes followed suit. For all the talk about diversification, within just two years, Russia’s share in the total exports of Georgian wine shot up from 0 to almost 68%.
Georgia’s wine industry is heavily dependent on export to CIS countries, especially Russia. Two main short-run risks associated with the Russian market presently affect Georgian wine exports: The possibility that Russia might cancel its free trade agreement with Georgia, and the economic slowdown in Russia which could lead to reduced demand for Georgian wine.
Winemaking is one of the oldest Georgian traditions that have survived to this day. Archaeologists have proved that the history of Georgian wine production reaches back into the past at least 8000 years. Arguably, this makes Georgia the earliest place on earth where wine was produced. And the tradition is alive – today there are not just big wine firms, but it is common among ordinary Georgians to grow grapes and produce their own, homemade wine.
Hospitality is one of the most prized aspects of Georgian culture. Welcoming (literal translation: "respecting") guests is a matter of great pride for any family. My mother grew up in a small Imeretian village, and as she tells me, the kids of the family were not allowed to eat until the guests were fully "respected", i.e. properly fed. Even the poorest household in the village would go out of its way (and income) to impress its guests with a cornucopia of local delicacies, meats, veggies, and homemade wine.