Baia Abuladze, 23, the village of Obcha, Baghdati

I am a Master’s student of Ilia State University Public Administration program; however, my current life revolves around viticulture and winemaking. I’ve been interested in this field for a long time, but I saw this activity as entrepreneurial and profitable just recently. By the way, I have bottled my own wine for the past year. I was in Lithuania to participate in a project. They asked us to do the so-called “Energizer”, which meant we had to write one true and one false fact about ourselves. I wrote that I had my own wine as ”truth” but most of them thought it was a lie and refused to believe me.

In addition to winemaking I worked in the Embassy of Italy, however this business demanded so much human resource and dedication that I guess I need to contribute all of my time to it. I have studied social and political sciences, I’ve worked for more than one NGOs at the same time, I’ve participated in many international projects but, after all this, I think I’ve finally found my true calling. At the moment, I am excited about future challenges.

In 2015, a program was launched to support micro and small entrepreneurs. I prepared a project and filled out the application together with my mother who, I have to say, is a very energetic and hard-working person. We were eager to succeed because we had been making wine in my family for a very long time. To our surprise, we received 5,000 GEL funding; we added our own 1,000 GEL and bought the bottles, prepared the labels, etc.

After that, I had one magic day – a meeting in the Farmers Association. I learned about the Association from the social media and I thought of writing to them to ask for a meeting and maybe the membership in the Association. I met Ms. Nino Zambakhidze, their head, and explained to her I had my own wine, and I wanted to do better, etc. She told me that it was the first time a girl of my age was interested in becoming a member. She also told me that many farmers were interested in their Association, but the age gap between them and I was quite large.

After that day, many journalists rushed to my village, a rare sight here, to take interviews and make reports about me. Many good things happened. Today, our wine is sold in over 30 outlets and we have international offers too. Other members of my family have started to show interest in wine making too – for example, my brother, who is helping us with attracting tourists. We did not use the second floor of our house, but now we’ve transformed it into a guest house and we’ve hosted a few groups of tourists who tried our wine, tasted Georgian dishes and, hopefully, left quite pleased.

We produce white wine. We have Imeretian types of wine: Tsolikauri and Tsitska. We have our vineyard where we grow up to 4,500 grapes. Our grape crop is usually large, and we often make a ton and a half Chacha; that is why we want to apply for excise license and produce Chacha too.

To be honest, I have received nothing but favorable feedback and advice. People are well disposed to me and, generally, to the young girls who venture into these fields. In our country, viticulture and wine making are male dominated fields, but I have to say that both men and women have been very supportive. Some have bought my wine only as a token of my support and respect.

This year has been incredible, which makes me very happy.”