By Richard Cox
23th October 2019
Following its success last year, the London Qvevri Wine Festival has again welcomed a diverse crowd of wine lovers to taste Georgian Qvevri wines on Saturday. All wines were qvevri produced from Georgia, the birthplace of wine and all handpicked by specialist importers who relished presenting their wines enthusiastically at the event.
The festival was officially opened by the Ambassador of Georgia to the UK, HE Mrs Tamar Beruchashvili, who addressed the audience about the cultural importance of Georgian wine and qvevri winemaking’s 8000 years old unbroken tradition. She gave warm words of praise to the event organisers and participants.
Held this year in the spacious Moonchu Hall in the heart of London’s Soho, the event was spread across two sessions, the first timed to accommodate trade and press guests. Over 300 visitors enjoyed not just the wonderful wines but also a wide variety of typically Georgian hospitality.
Each session began with a master class in Qvevri wines hosted and charmingly presented by Jamie Goode, wine writer, international wine judge and author of his first wine novel “The Wine Critics“. Those fortunate enough to hold tickets for the masterclass were both enthralled and entertained by Jamie’s engaging and passionate masterclasses.
Festival visitors were treated to dances by London based Georgian Dance Group Lileo with their choreographer Shalva Kavtaradze performing Georgian traditional dances 'Kartuli' and 'Gandagana' in exquisite costumes.
Over 20 Qvevri Wines were poured continuously by the individual importers: Taste of Georgia, gvinoUK, 8000 Vintages and Proper Natural Wine, who proudly presented and told their stories about their wines. The exhibitors generously offered their bottles at specially discounted prices just for the event. Other qvevri wines not yet imported were also available to taste from Bruale, Kakhaberi and Maranis.
Eka Cox - co-founder of the London Qvevri Wine Festival and co-owner of Taste of Georgia, a UK importer of Georgian wine in the UK says:
"We held the first LQWF last year and were overwhelmed by the demand for tickets and how well Qvevri wines, Georgian cuisine and culture were being embraced by the public. This year we decided to make the event bigger and better to accommodate demand and also to showcase Qvevri wine alongside with Georgian culture and its traditions. This event is only possible due to the fantastic collaboration of dedicated UK importers of Georgian wine, caterers and many friends who all share a common desire to promote Georgia, its culture and produce to the UK''
There is no wine without food in Georgia and Georgian cuisine has already captivated many; The LQWF wanted to reflect this by partnering with the London based Georgian catering company Walnut & Spice who provided delicious Georgian food at the festival to be enjoyed by all.
Anna Tbileli - co-founder of London Qvevri Wine Festival and co-owner of Walnut & Spice, a Georgian food catering company in the UK says:
“In recent years we have seen a significant increase of interest in Georgian wine, cuisine and culture so last year together with Georgian wine importers to the UK we established a London Qvevri Wine Festival. The idea was to introduce more people to our amazing wine, food and cultural heritage. The event proved a massive success, so this year we are back with even more to offer. Last year everyone enjoyed a variety of Georgian dishes provided by our company. This year we also sold Georgian spices, sauces and delicacies for everyone to take home and try to create new flavours. There was also a chance to buy piping hot Khachapuri - the most famous Georgian flatbread stuffed with cheese."
The visitors also enjoyed the chance to meet authors Anna Saldadze and David Gigauri who offered personally signed copies of their books 'Untamed' and 'Be My Guest', both published by Apricate Books.
There can be no doubt that Georgia, its culture, its wonderful spirit of generosity and of course, it’s amazing produce are here to stay and are not just a fashionable diversion. The LQWF19 embraced the most ancient form of wine production and presented it in both a respectful and entertaining environment. A Georgian guest asked, “are all the wines here really just Qvevri produced?” Upon receiving confirmation, he replied proudly “well done, well done!” Georgians are proud and rightly so of their wine making heritage, their wines and culture.
There can be no doubt that this will continue as an annual event in London and plans are already underway to take this event on the road to other destinations in the UK to spread the wonder of qvevri wines further afield.