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On this mouthwatering week-long trip, you’ll explore the birthplace of wine, Georgia, and its unique, feasting tradition. You’ll enjoy home visits, rural excursions, exclusive performances, historic and cultural tours, cooking workshops and much more.
You will enjoy six nights of accommodation in Betsy's Hotel during this holiday.
Culinary Backstreets encourages travelers to ease into this trip and allow some extra time to acclimate, especially as most flights to Tbilisi arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Culinary Backstreets will arrange private pickup from the airport to your hotel, where you’ll have time to rest.
In the late afternoon, you’ll meet for a welcome walk through the neighborhood, built in the 19th century. Georgia’s capital is neither Europe nor Asia, and is a collision of ancient and modern—the crossroads of the old Silk Road and a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities that have defined the city’s distinctive character and inimitable cuisine.
After peering into a few traditional courtyards, you’ll make your way to Shavi Lomi, a house-turned-restaurant featuring Mary Gubeladze’s twist on traditional Georgian dishes as well as classic favorites. Over dinner, you’ll properly introduce yourself and get an overview of the exciting - and delicious - week ahead.
Today you’ll explore the building blocks of the Georgian supra table—tracking down warm loaves of tonis puri, fresh from an oven in the basement of a historic seminary, and learning and tasting traditional essentials from spice blenders, pickle makers, cheesemongers, and herbsmen in a colorful bazaar (not to mention fresh Georgian cheese, honey, and delicious churchkhelas, strings of nuts dipped in a thick roux of grape juice).
You’ll feast on khinkali, the iconic dumplings of the land, and taste the latest wines from the kvevri at the city’s first wine bar. You’ll wind down the day with an early, relaxing dinner in a traditional courtyard.
If you have energy left after dinner, feel free to wander the streets of the Sololaki neighborhood, where you’ll find no shortage of bars and cafes.
About 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of Tbilisi, at the junction of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers, sits Mtskheta, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the birthplace of Georgian Christianity.
Your morning will begin with a pilgrimage to the city’s greatest maker of ajaruli khachapuri, a baked barge of dough packing a cargo of gooey cheese topped with a mostly raw egg yolk and a slowly melting Snickers-sized gob of butter.
In Mtskheta, you’ll visit the city’s Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. In the 4th century, this site was chosen by St. Nino for the first church in Georgia; believed to be the burial site of Christ’s mantle, it is one of the most sacred places in the country.
Later, you’ll head to the nearby village of Ateni in the Shida Kartli region, considered the heart of Georgia. Historically, the region produced wine for the Georgian kings, and it remains important, although glossed over, winemaking area today.
To end the day, you’ll visit the cellar of the Wine Artisans, an association of winemakers dedicated to making traditional natural wines. Your host, Andro Barnovi, will walk you through the winemaking process and also prepare a luscious country supper. Your ride will have you back at the hotel around sunset, where you can set out on your own evening explorations or head in for a good night’s rest.
Spread beneath the majestic Caucasus Mountains like an enormous grape basket is the Alazani Valley. Located in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia, this could very well be the most breathtaking wine region in the world. October is the time of rtveli—the harvest—and families along the valley are busy making wine much like their ancestors would have done for the past 8,000 years.
After a morning drive from Tbilisi to Kakheti by private coach, you’ll visit the regional capital of Telavi for a quick lunch and a shopping trip to the market, where you will learn about local products and collect for your evening dinner. On the way to prepare dinner, you will visit Gremi, the old citadel of the region, for a little historic perspective. You’ll end the day with an authentic village supra, a belt-popping feast, al fresca, preparing the meal together in the fields of a local winery.
Tonight, you’ll stay in the Alazani Valley in a comfortable boutique hotel, dreaming of all things delicious.
After breakfast, you’ll head to the home-atelier of one of the last local kvevri (amphora) masters where you will learn about the importance of the kvevri in wine-making and see how it is done. You won’t leave without sampling his excellent wine and chacha.
You will then head over to Akura and the 100-year-old home of local winemaker Irakli Bluishviliho, who will wine and dine the group with his particular brand of village sophistication. You’ll indulge in elegant tomato and eggplant salads, sheep cheese, barbecued pork, and fresh bread—all washed down by unlimited toasts of organic wine.
His is a home you will not want to leave, but eventually, after dinner, you’ll make the drive back to Tbilisi. The team will wake you up when the car pulls into the hotel.
This morning, after breakfast, you will walk down to the National Gallery for a private tour of the works of Pirosmani, the Norman Rockwell of Georgia, whose works depict a golden era of pre-Soviet Georgian traditions, including, of course, the supra. You’ll then head into the hidden courtyard of the museum of literature where your lunch awaits you.
From there, you will make your way to the studio of the Sukhishvili National Ballet to witness a private rehearsal of these acrobatic dancers. If the Ballet is out of town on this day, you’ll catch a show at the legendary Rezo Gabriadze Puppet Theater. Gabriadze, a Georgian playwright, director, painter, and sculptor, collaborated with other directors to make some of Georgia’s most iconic films. His puppet theater productions have been praised at festivals across the world.
You'll finish this day, and our week together, with afternoon coffee and cakes in the cafe of the Gabriadze Theater.
Today, catch flights home or onto your next destination—or, if you’d like, spend more time exploring Tbilisi. Culinary Backstreets team is happy to provide additional recommendations.
Until the next adventure!
Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. Culinary Backstreet expects to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
Travelers should feel comfortable walking three to five miles each day and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get hands-on during a couple of cooking workshops.
Tucked between the Black and Caspian Seas and in the shadow of Europe’s highest mountains, you’ll find Georgia – a tiny country with an astounding culinary heritage and a winemaking tradition tracing back eight millennia.
You’ll be delving into this appetizing wonderland during rtveli – the grape harvest – Georgia’s most inspiring time of year. And you aren’t only going to witness the harvest, tiy’re going to take part in it, too.
Culinary Backstreets encourages an adventurous palate! However, if you’d like to avoid meat, the Georgian diet is vegetarian-friendly, so they can almost always supplement a non-meat dish.
Avoiding gluten, on the other hand, will be challenging. If you’d like to join but are gluten-intolerant, you’ll need to bring and/or buy a steady stash of snacks to supplement your meals.
The trip is centered around wine and includes a copious amount of alcohol consumption.
Tbilisi International Airport
Please book your flight to arrive at Tbilisi International Airport (TBS). Transfer from this airport is included upon arrival. Please send your inquiry for further information.
Guests can take the number 37 bus from the airport which would take about 1 hour and 10 minutes; or they can take a taxi or shared ride which would take between 25 and 55 minutes depending on traffic.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookCulinaryVacations.com. All major credit cards supported.
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