Georgia to make a move on the west

13 July, 2007

Georgia may bill itself the birthplace of wine , but up until now the country's output has hardly registered in the west.

All that is about to change as a group of leading winemakers known as Georgian Wine Family prepares to spearhead a marketing drive into Britain, Germany, USA and other western states.

The urgency with which GWF and others are seeking entry into new markets is underlined by a huge loss of business with the Russian Federation following the its ban on all Georgian produce last year.

With wine exports to Russia accounting for 70 per cent of Georgia's total agricultural exports - a sector itself accounting for 70 per cent of the country's total exports - the scale of the problem facing both Tblisi and the wine industry becomes apparent.

Georgia's main challenge lies in moderating its established styles of winemaking. The semi-sweet, clay pot fermented, long macerated, tannic (white and red) and often oxidative styles that so appealed to the Russian markets simply do not work for western palates .

Companies such as the German government-backed GTZ, the development agency behind the four Georgian Wine Family producers, and large players such as Pernod Ricard, with its GWS range of old and new style wines, along with the more innovative local producers, are now doing a good job of bridging this cultural divide.

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