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Kakhetian Wine Trail

Georgia

1660 

Georgia is famous for a number of things, with wine being on top of the list, right next to Georgian hospitality and love for hosting guests. Our original trail in the lowlands of Kakheti will take you through a part of the region Georgians consider the craddle of wine. They have a good reason for such claims. Here, right at the foothills of the Greater Caucasus, archeologists have found grape seeds and pottery for making and storing wine that date back 8000 years. Since that time people here have been growing grapevines and making wine. We ride out to visit a number of vineyards and wineries, both larger, more established ones, and small, family-ran, known only locally. Brave Tushetian horses, well-supplied Kakhetian wine cellars and rich Georgian cuisine go very well together.

  • Days overall
    10 days
    Days in saddle
    6
  • Group size
    12
    Available
  • Standard
    Georgian hospitality (comfy, overeaten and a bit tipsy)
    Luggage
    no limit kg
    Food
    local cuisine, vegetarian available
  • Skills
    walk, trot, canter

Our original trail runs in the lowland part of Kakheti, a famous winemaking region at the very foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains. It is arguably one of the first places – if not the oldest one – in the World where wine was ever made. The region is rich in vineyards and wineries, both larger ones that produce on a larger scale and export their products, as well as small, local maranis (Georgian word for winery) whose wine can only be tasted there, on site. During our tour we will ride horses to selected places that serve both great wine and amazing Georgian food.

The wineries we will visit make both traditional, Georgian wine, as well as European-style wines. Some of the bigger ones make wine in both modern and traditional ways, others follow only the old, traditional procedure of making wine in qvevris, special clay pots dug into the ground. Apart from tasting wine we will also get to see fields where grapes are grown, cellars where wine is made, fermented, bottled and stored. And then taste it again.

A big part of the tour also focuses on Georgian food. Local cuisine is very distinctive, rich in traditions and very diverse. The Alazani valley, where we ride, is one of the most important winemaking regions of Georgia, but also has it’s own, specific, regional cuisine. During our tour we will taste both local dishes, typical of Kakheti, as well as ones popular all around Georgia and – in some cases – well beyond its borders, as Georgian cuisine becomes more and more popular in many European countries.

Georgians love eating and drinking, dining together at one table is deeply enrooted in Georgian culture. They do it on every possible occasion and without one, just for the sake of it. If there’s one thing they love more than eating and drinking in their own company, Georgians love doing it with guests. Hosting guests is the single most faviourite thing for Georgians to do. Georgian hospitality is second to none.

Our Georgian team consists of highlanders, from both Tusheti and neighbouring regions, some of them nearly literally raised in the saddle. They spend helf of the year up, in the mountains, and the second half right here, in the lowlands. It’s a realtively small community, where many people know each other, often have family ties or are lifelong friends.

Everyday rides take for to five hours. The lanscape varies, being a bit mountainous (we are at the foothills of the Caucaus, after all), hilly and forested, as well as flat, running through fields and along the Alazani river. We will be riding through both nature, as well as approaching and entering smaller and bigger villages, sometimes even riding right through them. Although there is no heavy traffic in the area, we will also ride along and on some public roads, ride into villages and towns, mixing with regular, local traffic. But worry not, our horses are used to all types of cars and vehicles and – as you will see for yourself – they fear nothing. Horses are common in the area, so are herds of animals that often walk on roads and stop traffic. Many people here can ride horses and love them, as horses are and have been fundamental to Georgians and their ancestors. They respect riders and are happy to see people ride horses. We will be greeted by both drivers and pedestrians on many occasions.

What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • 2 nights at a hotel in Tbilisi
  • 7 nights at wineries, vineyards (in local guesthouses and hotels)
  • Breakfasts in Tbilisi (second and last day)
  • Dinners in Tbilisi (first and last evening)
  • All meals in Kakheti (brakfasts, lunches “to go”, dinners)
  • A variety of wine, liquers, chacha and other drinks along the trail
  • Georgian cuisine and cooking workshops
  • Pools and saunas available in some guethouses/hotels along the trail
  • Transfers from and to Tbilisi airport (on first and last days of the tour)
  • Transfer from and to bus station (for flights to/from Kutaisi, first and last day of the tour)
  • Transport from Tbilisi to Kakheti and back
  • Horsemen and guides during the entire ride in Kakheti
  • English-speaking pilot during the entire tour
  • Horse with full tack and equipment
  • Luggage car
  • Tourist insurance covering high-risk sports
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flight tickets to and from Georgia
  • Minor personal expenses (souvenirs, additional snacks, admission tickets, etc.)
  • Optional: single room supplement (where available)
  1. Day 1 Arrival to Georgia

    All riders are picked up from the airport (in Tbilisi) or a bus stop in Tbilisi (for flight arrivals to Kutaisi) and taken directly to the hotel. Due to different arrival hours no group activities are planned on that day until evening. Riders are free to roam Tbilisi in their spare time. Around 8 PM we will gather all riders and go together for a welcome dinner in a restaurant.

  2. Day 2 Welcome to Kakheti

    We’re not in a rush after breakfast as the cars will arrive to pick us up at noon. We leave Tbilisi and head out to Kvemo Alvani, in Kakheti, at the foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains. The drive will take around 2,5 hours. We will check in a guesthouse and head out, this time still on foot, to visit two small, local wineries. The first one of them, in a small building, decorated with antiques, wine-making tools and pictures of their ancestors, is a relatively new place, established by local winemakers who also make flavoured chacha. We will taste some of their wines and have lunch there. Next we will move to another local winery. Located in an old house, this winery offers both wine and home made liquors that we will taste in a century-old wine basement. Next we will go back to our guesthouse to refresh before a big dinner. We head out to another winery, established by local winemakers who also make flavoured chacha. In a small building, decorated with antiques, wine-making tools and picture of their ancestors, our host will welcome us at traditional, Georgian supra. After the second visit it’s time to head back to our guesthouse. We will have time to refresh before we start our traditional, Georgian supra. Several types of Georgian cheese, coal fried mtsvadi – Georgian shashlik, dried trout, mushrooms, salads and other dishes will be served.

  3. Day 3 Time to ride!

    After breakfast in the guesthouse it’s high time to meet the horses. Our guides will match them with riders and off we go, we head ride out to explore Kakheti! First we ride North-East, through fields and meadows, with the Alaverdi Monastery behind our backs and a stunning view to the Greater Caucasus right ahead of us. We will stop for lunch in Argokhi, at a fairly large family winery which produces and exports both traditional Georgian and European style wines that we will, of course, try. We can have a walk around the vineyard and fields surrounding the area before we mount up again. The place we are headed to is located on the other side of the mountain. We will cross it through a forest, located in a small, but important Babaneuri Nature Reserve. Then we will ride down to the village and reach a vineyard, winery and hotel complex we will be staying at that night. There’s a nice yard and terrace there with a view to surrounding fields, Caucasus mountains and Alaverdi monastery. A big dinner and nice selection of wine await us in the evening!

  4. Day 4 Foothils of the Caucasus

    In the morning we will have breakfast, saddle our horses and ride out. First through the small nature reserve and then we East, towards Pshaveli village where the famous mountain road to Tusheti starts its climb into the Caucasus. The landscape will go up and down as we circle Pshaveli from the North. A large part of today’s part of the trail runs through forested areas, so every once in a while we will have nice views to both lowlands and mountains. In the middle of our today’s ride we will stop for lunch. Depending on the weather we will either visit a small, local restaurant or rest and eat outdoors, in the remains of a 17th century fortress or in one other spots with nice views to the area. In the afternoon we will ride down, follow the local road to Artana and reach our destination: a relatively large place with cosy rooms, winery, surrounded by fields of grapevine. There are different facilities, including a sauna (and outdoor pool – weather permitting), at our disposal and multiple spots to relax, eat, enjoy wine made on the spot and rest. There is a small garage with a couple old, soviet cars there, including a vehicle that used to belong to the second President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze. We will spend two nights here.

  5. Day 5 Riding and workshops

    This day is split into two parts: horse riding in the surrounding area and workshops / ”masterclasses” in Georgian cuisine. If the weather won’t surprise us, we will saddle up and ride out after breakfast. If the forecast will indicate better weather in the afternoon we will switch the day’s order. We will spend 3-4 hours on horses, riding to a nearby monastery and reach Lopota lake and waterfall to enjoy views. Upon returning to our center we will have lunch and start workshops. Today’s classes cover fundamental issues: cooking and distilling. Under the supervision of local professionals we will learn how to prepare basic Georgian dishes and make wine and chacha. In the evening we will have dinner together, empty our hosts’ wine cellar a bit, relax in sauna and enjoy the evening together.

  6. Day 6 The old man and the wine

    After breakfast we saddle up and leave Artana. In the beginning we follow the river and circle Lapankuri village. Next we will head South, to Gremi, the the former capital of Kakheti. Our trail that day runs along the foothills of Caucasus, being both flat and hilly, through forest and open grounds. After riding down we will cross the river again and reach Eniseli. A small, cozy guesthouse with a large wine cellar and a nice view on the Gremi Monastery awaits us there. The owner is an amazing, eccentric man of many talents, who loves wine and turned winemaking into a ritual, following a specific process. He’s also a keen cook, which you will have the opportunity to experience. He also specializes in medieval Kakhetian architecture, carves in wood and… breeds shepherding dogs. We are staying in his winery and guesthous for dinner and night.

  7. Day 7 Kakhetian villages

    In the morning, after breakfast, we saddle up and ride out. First we head towards Skakriani village and a bit North, to Lapankuri. The trail runs through a forest, at a foothill of one of the mountains. On the way we will reach a small monatery and ruins of a castle that long ago used to guard the area. Will will ride out to open ground, into the fields surrounding Napareuli. We will cross the village and arrive at a very nice winery, combined with a cozy hotel and a… wine museum. The winery, ran by twin brothers, makes several types of wine, both Georgian and European type, and serves delicious food. There’s also an indoor pool to relax at in the evening that we will most definitely use!

  8. Day 8 Alazani and Alvani

    After breakfast we ride out for the last time. The guides will choose one of the routes, depending on the current level of the Alazani river. We can ride along the Northern shore of the river and if the water level isn’t too high, we can cross to the other side, ride along the riverbank and cross back. In the second scenario we will ride North, partially along the road and then through fields, towards Pshaveli, which will give us more opportunities to canter. In the late afternoon we will arive back to Alvani, where we started our adventure. It’s time to thank our horse for all their great work and say goodbyes. We will check in the guesthouse we have already been to. In the evening we will have our last dinner in Kakheti.

  9. Day 9 Return to Tbilisi

    Int he morning we will enjoy our last breakfast in Kakheti. But before we drive back to Tbilisi we still have time for a bit of sightseeing in the area: visiting the Alaverdi Monastery and walking around the town of Telavi. In the afternoon we will go to Tbilisi. We will check in the same family hotel, refresh and in the evening we will have our last, farewell dinner together in a restaurant in the city center.

  10. Day 10 Farewell to Georgia

    The group leaves Georgia. All riders are taken to the airport in Tbilisi or to a bus stop (Kutaisi airport flights).

The guide might modify the route according to weather conditions and group's riding skills.
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In Tbilisi, the group stays at a small, European standard family hotel. Breakfasts are served at the hotel (on the second and the last day) and we go for two dinners, on the first and last evening, to one of the restaurants in the city center.

While in Kakheti we spend evenings and nights in wineries and vineyards and sleep at guesthouses, comfy rooms, bungalows or family hotels there. Since we’ve planned the trail to take you through a variety of local spots their size and standard differs, but they are all cozy and quite comfy, some of them with saunas and swimming pools available.

During the tour we will enjoy Georgian cuisine and wine in all their glory, take part in cooking workshops and, if you’d like to, cook with our hosts, too. If names such as khinkali, khachapuri, lobio, mtsvadi,  chakapuli, kharcho or shkmeruli don’t sound a bell – after the tour they will and it will be a very nice melody. Riders already familiar with Georgian dishes and drinks will enjoy the ones they already know and taste many more.

Our ride revolves around wine, so we will not only try a veriety of them, together with other beverages and drinks, but also see the process of making Georgian wine from up close. Our hosts will walk us through their wineries and tell a bit about their wine.

 

 

Equipment

We use typical Caucasian saddles. They are quite different from the English and Western-style saddles and very comfortable for both horses and riders, especially for high mountain riding. Steel saddle bows are set on wooden benches. This construction is covered with a moderately soft “pillow” made of leather. The pillow is kept in its place by a strap, usually made of leather, which serves as a girth part at the same time. Tail docks are common.

Stirrup leathers in Georgia are quite short – Georgians practice a distinctive seat: legs in the front, knees high. Stirrups are quite simple and wide, allowing trekking shoes to fit inside well. Bridles are also simple, made the usual way. We use bits.

Caucasian / Georgian moutain saddles often raise interest, as they are different than classical, English or Western-style ones. Fairly unknown in the West these saddles are very comfortable for long and steep rides. Pommels and cantles are quite high to stabilize riders in mountainous terrain and the pillow seat absorbs bumps very well. This non-standard construction is also quite practical when it comes to attaching larger quantities of luggage.

 

What you should take with you

The trail in Kakheti runs at the foothils of the Caucasus mountains, in the lowlands and hilly areas.
[TODO]

  • passport
  • cash, USD or EUR
  • electronic devices, e.g. camera
  • a handy backpack or hip bag (for documents, phone, etc.)
  • a canteen or other water containers (it might be an empty plastic bottle)
  • flashlight; head flashlights are quite handy
  • sunscreen
  • hat or cap
  • riding / jodhpur boots, trekking shoes are also great
  • raincoat / waterproof jacket
  • swimsuit – for sauna and swimming pool
  • flip-flops for showering
Date Trip Status Price Spots  
7 November 2024 - 16 November 2024
Available
1660 
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