Miranda Chkhetiani, 33 years old, Village Tvishi, Tsageri Municipality
Even though I was born in Kutaisi, I spent my whole childhood here in the village. I graduated school here and after that, when I was planning to return to my parents in the city, my grandmother was already at an age when she couldn’t be alone, so I stayed here. Why don’t I want to move to the city? It’s simple – I feel happy here with my job and with my life generally.
My family had deep generational knowledge in the winery, for example, my grandfather was an agronomist, my father was making wine, my brother also understood the basics. Over time, I fell in love with the vineyard and interacting with it. So I decided to try my fate.
First I started with cultivating vine and built a vineyard. Initially, I was working with seedling farms, which was founded in our village. I began working there, then I took some vine seedlings as compensation and planted 500 seeds. The next year I added 200 more and at the moment I have 700 vines I’ve cultivated myself, 5 and 4 years old. They’re already giving yields.
In 2017 with the help of my friends, I issued my first batch of bottled wine. In 2018, I issued a small part of the harvest, which I’ve fermented without underground wine jars. By the end of March, I’m planning to open my underground wine jars and from May I will probably have jar wine too. Due to our location (Tvishi is a microzone), the wine naturally becomes semi-sweet, as it always has. Lately, due to a changing climate, like for example my batch of 2018, it has begun taking on more of a drier taste.
I already started distributing my wine. Right now, I’ve already cooperated with a wine-bar in Kutaisi. I already have offers from Tbilisi and Martvili, as soon as I open my jars. Now I’m planning to issue a batch of 700-800 bottles, but in the future, of course, the amount will increase and I’ll go to 1000-1500 bottles.
I had a project presented at “Enterprise Georgia”, for opening a cellar and a guesthouse, which got rejected. As they explained, they’re not financing guesthouses anymore.
Living alone represents some kind of love by itself. I love this place so much that I’d rather be here, than anywhere else. I feel happy. I never procrastinate, more so I am working day and night. With the help of my parents, I take care of my house and yard; I couldn’t handle this on my own. I never considered leaving this place; so many of our ancestors worked hard to get this place to what it now is; I don’t think it’s right to disregard the fruits of their labor and flee to the city.
After my grandma died, my folks demanded I move to the city, and not live here by myself but I prefer to be here, take care of my yard, than having nothing to do in Tbilisi.
For some period of time village life for a woman was difficult. Moreover, the winery is associated with men. People questioned my choice of staying here. But now, if anyone needs anything, like splitting wood or mowing the lawn, I’m the one they call. There are not a lot of youth in the village left. Everybody living here is old.
It’s hard taking care of vine. The soil must be processed in the Spring, then the vine canes need pruning, the pest control is the hardest part — the machine is heavy; then there’s green work, budding grapes and all that. My family helps in whatever is too much for me, for example, my brother helps me spray pest control. I do the pruning alone. I don’t let anyone else prune.
There are a lot of everyday problems in the village. There’s no road, no grocery stores, we warm ourselves on an old-school heater; the plumbing is a mess too.
At the end of May, there’s a woman winemaker’s expo in the Netherlands planned, where women from different countries will take part. The exhibition is called “Wine and Women”. I plan to go there as circumstances allow. I’m one of the 12 woman winemakers who is attending from Georgia. I’m the only women making wine in Lechkhumi. I personally know one in Racha, who’s producing Rachian “Black”. It’s a black wine, Khvanchkara.
Women who are considering getting in this business, I would like to tell them that the most important part is not getting intimated. There’s a hard road ahead, with lots of problems and barriers, but with motivation and will you can make it happen. When the customer acknowledges you, likes your product and is satisfied, that will be your biggest stimulus and joy to continue doing the job you love.