From Obcha Village to the EU Market – Woman Winemaker’s Path to Success
Baia’s Wine is a company that owns 18 hectares of vineyards and a winery, and annually produces 18 thousand bottles of wine. For over six years, the company has been run by 28-year-old Baia Abuladze. She recalls how as a woman winemaker she used to be treated with scepticism, but managed to break stereotypes by dedicating her life to winemaking and turning it into a successful business.
Baia’s family has been in wine business for many years, so she started working in the vineyard since her primary school years. Having graduated from a university in Tbilisi, she returned to her home village, where she currently runs her winery together with her siblings, producing different wines from Imereti grape varieties.
When they started up their business, the young people knew little about wine production and marketing, so bottling their first bottles was quite challenging.
“Many EU-organized events and trainings helped us quickly gain the knowledge and grow our business”, Baia says, noting that she attended many EU-supported sales and marketing exhibitions and conferences that helped her obtain necessary expertise and establish important contacts.
Two years into the business, the company started exporting wine, but the road was rather bumpy from the village of Obcha to the EU market. In 2017, Baia tried the Austrian market and it turned a success. Today, Baia’s Wine is exported to 14 countries, mainly the EU, including Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden, with only 40% of it selling in the domestic market.
Exports were also facilitated by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement that permits Georgian goods to enter the EU market with zero import tariffs. Consequently, Baia gained an easier access to the market with some 500 million customers.
“Winemaking is a very interesting business where traditional knowledge should be combined with modern approaches, and the wine needs to be sold to a market that would have an understanding of Georgian wines, especially the classic and traditional ones that differ from region to region in our country. The European market is one of interesting, niche markets for such wines,” says the winemaker.
Apart from developing production, Baia has turned Obcha into an interesting and remarkable agritourism destination. Here tourists can visit the old wine cellar or vineyards and take part in grape harvesting, or engage in many other activities.
Baia has been trying to use a mixture of traditional knowledge and modern approaches in her family business and her efforts have paid off, as Baia’s Wine has become a brand and her constantly developing business has found its niche in both the domestic and foreign markets.
“An area of 18 hectares is large enough to require real good knowledge and experience that we gain as we progress,” Baia says. She knows she still has a long way ahead and she continues working hard to improve the quality of her wine and to stay in the EU market.