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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

MapA different are to explore on our last day, the affluent province of Kakheti in the east, famous for its wine. A variety of grapes are found growing here because of the microclimates.

But wine is not the only produce from this area. The semi arid desert along the border with Azerbajahn is quite rich with oil, harvested by a subsidiary of BP who have set up nodding donkeys to pump the oil from 5 kms down.

The area is also rich in walnut trees, and by the side of the road locals sell their own produce of homemade bread, cheese from cows, goats and sheep, and joints of pork.

Our first stop was at the convent of St Nina where we witnessed the Sunday mass before going onto the hilltop village of Signagi. This is a picturesque little place with tourism being its only industry. In the centre of the village is a memorial wall with thousands of the war dead listed on it, apparently one out of every two Georgian soldiers died in the war, probably because the Russians sent them into battle first.

Our lunch destination was at a couple of winerys. The first was Chelti, one of the most well known, and it was from here that Prince Harry ordered some wine for his wedding!!
This winery employs an ancient and a modern method in its wine making. A small number of expensive wines like the Qverva, are sealed in clay pots buried in brick pits for six months. Other wines follow the more trdaitional method because they have to comply with EU rules otherwise it cannot be exported!

The neighbouring winery of Shilda provided us with a feast of a lunch following a session showing a baker making us our bread, a walnut sweet maker making the dessert and tasting the wine with which we were served!

The Fortress of Gremi was next and was fabulous before going onto Tsinandali, a large ancestral home now owned by the government. It was once owned by Garsevan Chavchavadze who participated in the annexation of Georgia to Russia. I suppose it would now be with the National Trust if in England! More wine tasting in the cellars where we were shown a bottle worth £600, there had been only eight ordered, four sold to Russians. This wasn't offered to us to taste!

The journey back was via a picturesque mountain road. The mountains are the border with Russia. At least here they can't keep moving the border fence to gain more land as they do every so often in the high Caucasus!

Tomorrow we have time to wander through the streets of the city again before being picked up at 1.30 to take us to the airport to begin our journey home.

And so will end another tour... home again...for now!