You will be hardly surprised to hear about a Georgian family making wine in Qvevri. But what will you say if you hear that they make whiskey in Qvevri in Tetritskaro?
Alexandre Distillery produces several varieties of wine, sharbat, chacha, fruit vodka and, most importantly, the first original Georgian whiskey “Alexandre”. The production of grain distillate in Qvevri is a unique method, patented in Georgia as an invention. The author and patent holder of the method is Alexandre Kvernadze, a Georgian scientist, physicist, intellectual property specialist, and an accredited patent attorney of Georgia.
The exclusive whiskey production was launched in Village Alekseevka, Tetritskaro municipality, several years ago. Business founders, spouses Nia Natsvlishvili and Alexandre Kvernadze, not only aimed at getting material benefit, but also at creating a new product. When Tetritskaro-based Local Action Group (LAG) launched an awareness campaign about the EU-supported ENPARD grants competition, the family realized it was their chance to expand their business and gain renown among interested groups.
“Apart from our interest in expanding production, there was the great result that we hoped to receive – doing good for the region by contributing to its development was equally important to us. We’ve been actively cooperating with the LAG right from very beginning. This is a highly-motivated action group that responds quickly and effectively to challenges and needs facing the local community and helps to address them to the best of its abilities,” said Nia Natsvlishvili.
With support of the EU project, Alexandre Distillery’s activities have developed in three main areas. A customized environmentally friendly thermal power unit (generator) working on used oil has been designed for the company to produce steam required for heating the raw material in the Qvevri. An innovative marani (cellar) has been built from earth, offering a number of advantages, such as natural thermal insulation, stable temperature and humidity, antibacterial qualities, seismic resistance, etc. Besides, the yard has been improved.
“The winemaking tradition is deep-rooted in Kvemo Kartli, which is testified by artefacts and historical infrastructure found here. I think that the assistance provided by the project will support not only our business, but the entire region and will contribute to development of wine- and agritourism, which is one of the main development directions for Tetritskaro,” said Nia Natsvlishvili.
The Local Action Group took an interest in Alexandre Distillery right from the onset. According to Nino Tikishvili, Tetritskaro LAG Executive Director, the idea was truly innovative and contributing to tourism development that was a priority for the municipality.
Tetritskaro had great tourism potential, but lacked necessary infrastructure. As far as Alexandere Distillery was concerned, we focused on agritourism. The enterprise employed new technologies and constructed a cellar and a family hotel. All technical details of the project were completed several months ago. The cellar and the hotel are already open for tourists, including researchers who come to study whiskey production,” she said.
Nia Natsvlishvili also narrated how the situation changed thanks to the project:
“We feel great interest in what we do on behalf of locals. Some are working at our enterprise, and their motivation and interest have grown, as they want to deepen their knowledge in the brand new area, which is directly related to improving life quality for their families.”
As for the plans, she said Alexandre Distillery and Tetritskaro LAG planned to continue their cooperation:
“The LAG idea and the Tetritskaro LAG team have won our trust. They have proven themselves to be well-educated, active, community-oriented and committed persons. So we trust them and look forward to further cooperation with them, which we will definitely do.”