Thursday, May 3, 2007

Grape Harvest Comes to Georgia

In late September and early October grape harvest comes to Georgia. The day’s labor begins early and is strenuous, but punctuated with feasting and celebration, especially late into the evening. (This can make for a short night of sleep before work resumes the next morning, but no one seems to mind.)

In the major wine region of Kakheti, three quarters of households derive some portion of their income from wine production. Houses are very proud of their particular vintages and small vineyard owners have been known to sleep in their vineyards at night to guard their precious crops.

Not all the grapes are used to make wine, however. Some are left in bunches on the ground by the harvesters, who pick them up on their last pass-through, to be dried and made into raisins.

In the autumn visitors to Kakheti can find themselves working alongside the harvest crews or sampling bottles of the region’s past accomplishments. Regardless, guests are caught up in the hospitality and celebration that characterize the harvest time.

There are a number of autumn festivals, directly or indirectly celebrating the harvest, the rtveli. The holidays of Alaverdoba (28 September) and Mtskhetoba/Svetichovloba (14 October) are also celebrated this time of year. Harvest feasting involves lavish amounts of famed Georgian food and drink, with serving goats a common tradition.

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