I met Irakli Nikolashvili at five o’clock on cold November morning at the Tbilisi airport in 2011. I had staggered off of the Lufthansa direct from Munich and he appeared as my guide on a remarkable trip. Over the next few days he showed me the old Georgian capital where he grew up, and Kakheti, the wine region east of it, nestled in the foothills and river valleys of the North Caucasus Mountains, where his family comes from and makes wine to this day. (I documented the wine part of that trip here and the food part here for GFR.)
Irakli splits his time between Georgia and Toronto. Here, he runs Georgian Wine Online, which imports his family’s certified organic Nikolashvili Wines and a handful of other Georgian wineries including Chelti, where he took me on that trip and I enjoyed a long (and delicious) lunch over looking the snowy North Caucasus Mountains. He’s also recently signed up to bring in wines from the Winery Khareba, which sources from vineyards in the western part of Georgia as well as Khaketi in the east.
Irakli presided over a recent tasting of Georgian wines in Toronto at Woodlot Restaurant and Bakery, where proprietor Jeff Connell is a devotee of Georgian (and other natural) wines. I dragged him and his friend (and sometimes interpreter) Gregory Grdzelidze outside for a quick chat on the charms of Georgia’s 7,000 year old wine culture caught in the video below.
Can’t see the video? Click here.
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Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit corporation which publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley