Interview with Nutsa Abramishvili, CEO of Schuchmann Wines Georgia
AUTHOR: TAMAR KVINKADZE
Q: With years of experience in wine tourism, your company may be considered the industry’s pioneer, which is why I believe that in evaluating the state of affairs in this field, you are perfectly fit to be a Daniel come to judgement. What unique experiences and special services does the Kakheti Region offer its visitors?
A: My best shot at answering that question would by judging by the example of our company, even though the number of players in Kakheti’s winemaking market has been growing on a daily basis lately. And that makes me happy, because the region needs competition. It is commendable, indeed.
Our company, Schuchmann Wines Georgia, is one of the pioneers of this field. We host our guests in Kisiskhevi, a unique ancient village in Kakheti. The special planning of our chateau
and 120-hectare vineyards allows for enjoying the views of both the Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains. We offer our guests diverse services, all revolving around the theme of wine.
Schuchmann Wines Georgia is, first of all, a winemaking company. We use both European and traditional Georgian winemaking techniques, and we have almost 100 qvevri vessels and vineyards, as I mentioned earlier. We believe that, ideally, wine starts in the vineyard, which is why we take special care of our vineyards. To make sure that our vineyards are the best, we invest continuous effort. Now we are harvesting. We pick grapes, transport them to the wine-pressing facilities, squeeze the harvest, and then transfer the juice into qvevri vessels. Our guests observe these authentic winemaking activities and, upon request, can join in the process: gather and squeeze the crops and store the juice. In addition, we have retrained professional sommeliers to conduct winetasting sessions for visitors, who are also introduced to the history of Georgian wine, which spans 8,000 years, also to a number of grape varieties, regional features, and various stories related to them.
Guests are also welcome to tour our factory. In other words, we introduce them to the full cycle of winemaking, from the vineyard to the factory, and only then we get to the yummiest part, Georgian gastronomy. We have been working for several years in this direction, and now we have numerous traditional Georgian gastronomic surprises for our guests.
Schuchmann Wines Georgia builds on four key components: gastronomy, wine and serving traditions, and wellness—namely our wine spa. So our guests can familiarize themselves with all four aspects of our culture.
Q: That’s a standard package, though… more or less standard. One sort of expects Kakheti, the largest winemaking region in Georgia, to offer its guests wine, gastronomy, and hospitality. I wonder, is there more potential in the region in terms of wine, for example? Just based on your experience, for one….
A: From the very outset, Schuchmann Wines Georgia has been probing into this different kind of potential in the region. And that’s exactly why we focus on wellness, offering our guests physically, bodily, to experience the magic of
wine. And that’s why we rolled out a wine spa, a service unprecedented in the region. After working in the vineyard, participating in a winetasting session, and enjoying a delicious meal, our guests can soak and relax in a wine tub. Our spa celebrates wine, and its design elements, for the most part, feature a mix of our winery and factory. We offer our guests medicinal and relaxation procedures, and to use only healthy local ingredients, we have launched our own wine cosmetics line. For instance, we produce grape pip oils using a cold press method, this way keeping the substance’s unique properties and unrivaled antioxidant effects on the skin. Besides grape pip oil, we have pip scrub and, most importantly, we have recently started delivering unique medicinal muds from the nearby village of Akhtala famed for its healing properties and amazing health effects. Soon we will have Georgian vinegar and Georgian balsamic, this way entering the field of culinary as well.
Q: What is your niche, specialty? What values define your concept?
A: We are a high-end manufacturer. Boutique is our niche, not mass tourism or industrial manufacturing. Instead, we target a concrete niche, with keeping and preserving Georgian ethnography and traditions as our cornerstone, of course, though slightly modified to meet internationally recognized tourism requirements. In modifying, however, we are very moderate and keep a balance so that our guests can always have something new, hidden, and unique to discover.
I can also pledge right here and right now that we will never back down on quality. Maintaining
quality is a special obligation, because the company is named after a German philanthropist, and it is the duty of Schuchmann Wines Georgia to keep the German quality mark high.
Thus, our key values, our main unchanging axis, build on focus on innovation, offering exciting conceptual services to our visitors, and pioneering in every area. And that was our guiding light when we became the first to have introduced molecular gastronomy, also this year when we built a unique wine village. The village consists of several villas focusing on high-end clientele and offering premium-class vacationing.
We believe that innovations like these set up quite a competitive environment in the region, and in the entire Georgian winemaking industry. Now it’s our competitors’ turn, while we will spare no effort to create demand in the market, offer competitive services, and actually become the wine tourism trendsetters.
Q: Where do you see the Kakheti Region in the long-term?
A: Tourism in Kakheti is seasonal, with the active season lasting six months at best, which is good and convenient for both the country and SMEs engaged in this industry. However, our goal is to transform Kakheti into a four-season destination. In this, the state’s strategy and our vision match. To this end, we plan to explore new directions next year by engaging in medicine and offering a rehabilitation health center—again, wine-based, of course.
We are confident that Kakheti has immense potential for ranking alongside the world’s leading wine regions, such as Bordeaux in France and Napa Valley in the US. Our country certainly deserves it as the cradle of winemaking, with its 8,000-year history of viniculture and unique diversity of grape varieties. We must remind ourselves and the world—and do that often—that of the world’s 2,000 endemic grape species, more than 500 are Georgian. And developing this niche is our goal, to preserve and hand down to future generations our millennia-old traditions.