Over 170 Georgian wines at London Wine Fair, as Georgians look west

The rapid growth in sales and profile of Georgian wine to the UK may seem surprising to some. But for Georgians it is the reward of more than a decade of collective effort. Exports of Georgian wine to the UK increased 10-fold in the 5 years from 2016 to 2021 (2022 figures are pending). The great work has been to “diversify markets”; to cut the twisted chord to Russia, which has been for a century or so Georgia’s principal wine customer. The relationship reminds me of a bad ex. The wines made for Russia are the antithesis of the wines that opened the UK to Georgia. The Russian idea of Georgia is sweet whites and off-dry reds. “Humiliation Brands”, as a friend of mine calls them, inferior copies of historically authentic and rather lovely mountain wines, industrialised to pastiche. UK buyers first loved “the weird stuff”, as another friend of mine puts it. Amber wines made in qvevri, the technology invented by god’s first winemakers to ensure stability, balance and clarity in their wine. Championed by some of Georgia’s most eminent technical oenologists, and by her iconoclastic and idealistic individualists, qvevri is not synonymous with natural, but their design facilitates a low-intervention approach.

Amber qvevri wine make up around 10% of Georgian wine production (an estimate, as there is no official data). So have UK wine buyers drunk the orange-ade? No. A glance at the wine list for the Georgian stand at London Wine Fair shows the diversity of contemporary Georgian wine. And it chimes with our experience in the UK market. UK importers of Georgian wine report that Saperavi, Georgia’s native and ancient red, is the single biggest success in their portfolio. Described by some as “The malbec of the Causcasus”, this exuberant and plush red is a wonder grape, and Georgia’s great hope.

There are some sensational Saperavi on show at the Georgian stand at the fair, ranging in style from bright and supple unoaked, sleek and inky qvevri wines, and plush, spicy oak aged examples. Many are available from UK importers, but there is still much unsigned talent among Georgian producers, and around half of the 17 producers at the stand are seeking UK partners.

The focus on the UK has been sharpened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many Georgian wineries have taken the decision to stop supplying Russia. (A strong decision, given that Russia is the customer for more than 80% of Georgian wine exports.) Tbilvino, imported into the UK by Berkmann, are one such producer. One of Georgia’s largest and most modern wineries, Tbilvino have designated the UK as a key strategic market and are showing a range of wines at the fair.

The flourishing diversity of Georgian wine will be blooming on the stand. Visitors can expect to try modern fresh dry whites from aromatic varieties such as Kisi, Mtsvane, and Rkatsiteli. Georgia’s hero red grape, Saperavi, is present in many guises, from rich and oak-aged to juicy and fresh. The growing plantings of rescued varieties is reflected in the diversity of varietal wines, which further include (in whites) Tsitska, Tetra, Krakhuna, Tsolikouri and (in reds) Aleksandreuli, Ostkhanure Sapere, Tavkveri, and Aladasturi.

There is even some qvevri Cabernet Sauvignon (planted in Georgia since the 1800s) and Malbec for those reassured by a familiar name. Wine styles include dry whites, rosé and reds, and qvevri amber and red wines. There are also some high quality examples of the fresh and slightly off-dry reds that Georgia was once most famous for. The range of producers taking part also reflects the healthy diversity of Georgian wine, from large corporations to artisanal low-intervention wineries. The large number of producers on the stand shows the commitment of the Georgian wine industry to develop the UK market, and to diversify from its historic reliance on the Russian market.

In additional to the National Pavilion on stand number F40, Georgian wines are being shown by dynamic, young importer Gardabani Wines on stand C41. Founded by a Georgian and Italian duo (and old friends), Gardabani import from Georgia, Italy and Azerbaijan. Their portfolio includes the fresh, modern, well-priced wines of Askaneli, and the refined age-worthy wines of aristocratic Chateau Svanidze. The revitalisation of Georgia’s smaller (and craggy) western wine regions is reflected in Gardabani’s new range of five producers from Racha. These racy, mountain wines include zesty, crisp whites and crunchy reds, and are a lovely counterpoint to the rich, deep wines of the west.

Sarah Abbott is a Master of Wine and director of marketing agency Swirl Wine Group. She in an adviser to the National Wine Agency of Georgia on developing the UK market.

Georgian producers taking part at London Wine Fair:



Baias wine

Bolero and company


Chateau Ketevan

Dugladze wines and spirits

Gk winery

Goglas wine

Iako wines

Kakhuri gvinis marani




Qvevri generation

Samisi winery


Tsereteli wine company


Winery Ikalto

Winery Melitoni






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