At the end of March 2014, I participated in the International Wine Tourism Conference that took place in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. I spoke about wine tourism in Lazio and also participated in a panel on Social Media with fantastic colleagues. The highlight of the conference was the opportunity to participate in a familiarization media trip organized by the National Wine Agency in Georgia.
The program began two days before the conference and included a post conference visit to the Kakheti wine region. The program took us to a variety of wineries ranging from a Soviet era factory specializing in sparkling wine, to tasting the gorgeous qvevri wines made by the Alaverdi monk and learning about their 1000+ year wine making heritage, and then having the honor of joining the Sullivans as they opened their qvevri at the Twin's WineCellar in Kakheti.
A number of my fellow participants have written excellent articles about the trip and conference that offer the reader more in depth notes. Check out Vines and Designs, My Custard Pie, Just the Bottle and the most moving piece by Allison Markin about finding her Georgian family.
Conferences like this have a lot to offer those of us in wine tourism, we can learn from our peers, get to know an otherwise unknown region to us and of course the networking opportunities alone are worth the ticket price.
Being in the Republic of Georgia taught me a lot about one aspect of wine tourism that is often overlooked and that is the art of hospitality. Wine tourism should take the guest beyond the wine. I spoke about this briefly in the limited time I had for my presentation. Wine tour guests are not wine professionals for the most part. They are people on vacation that have an interest in wine and food. Our job is to highlight the local wine AND the region while making our guests feel comfortable and happy. Georgians have truly mastered the art of hospitality and I would advise anyone in the hospitality or service industry to visit Georgia to understand this. I was so impressed with Georgia I have returned since the conference, started a #DailyGeorgia post on my instagram feed and I have two upcoming trips planned. I will participate in this year's harvest and see for myself the magic of qvevri wine making.
I am looking forward to the next Interantional Wine Tourism Conference in Champagne, France!
|At the Tbilisi market|
|A local bar|
|My great friend and winelover Irakli|
|Local politcal graffiti|
|Mako and Eko pouring Italian wine into a vessel from 1600 BC|
|Street art in Tbilisi|
|Our guide Dushenko|
|Me with the Caucasus in the background|
|Sinaghi in Kakheti|
|Georgian cats are just as grumpy as cats elsewhere on earth|
|Turkish coffee with Daniel|
|Vineyards and mountains|
|Signs of vines EVERYWHERE|
|Freshly foraged wild greens|
|Opening a qvevri|
|At Twin's Wine Cellar|
|Oh the Caucasus must be the most beautiful mountain range on earth|
|Tbilisi Sulfur Baths|
|IWINETC panel on Social Media|
|At Eko Glonti's house|
|Georgian wine makes one do silly things|
|With new friends|
|At Vino Underground in Tbilisi|
|My partners in crime|
|My Georgian soul mate|
|Tbilisi at night|