On a recent FAM trip, Ker & Downey Outside Sales Agents Jessica and Holly had the opportunity to enjoy a private lunch at a farmhouse and vineyard of a local family in the Kakheti region. Below Jessica recounts the day, a true highlight of their trip.
When measuring up the world’s top wine producing regions, Georgia doesn’t usually come to mind but it should! The Georgian’s have been cultivating some of the world’s finest wines for over 8,000 years and their culture fully embraces the ancient tradition of winemaking. The Kakheti region is regarded as the wine capitol of Georgia and is a “must visit” for all travelers, especially food and wine enthusiasts (which I hope is everyone!).
On a recent FAM trip to Georgia, the highlight of our journey was a private lunch at the farmhouse and vineyard of a local family in the Kakheti region. The day began with a visit to Signagi; a historic walled city perched on a hill, offering sweeping views of the surrounding vineyards and Caucasus Mountains. From there, a short drive down to the valley brought us face to face with the rolling vineyards and olive farms that the region is known for. After passing a mother and son in a horse and buggy, we turned onto a quiet dirt road and were warmly welcomed into the impressive country estate of a local Georgian family. We learned quickly that drinking wine with the locals is no joke! Within 5 minutes I had a “drinking horn” in hand filled with a generous sampling of wine produced at the estate. The horns were historically used as drinking vessels when toasting during ancient ceremonies and they are still very much a part of the local culture. The Georgians are masters of viticulture and are known for their unique method of winemaking which involves placing clay jars, or kvevris under the ground to house the fermented juice at a perfect temperature while it matures. Although I didn’t have time on my recent trip, Ker & Downey offers clients an opportunity to partake in crushing grapes and making their own wine at the estate.
The most unique element to our visit was the opportunity we were given to take part in making some of the traditional dishes served throughout the country. Khinkali, are over-sized dumplings filled with delicious meats and spices and creating them is a form of art! The local chef was very patient in showing us how to fold the dough in a way that would keep the juices in, and our local guide demonstrated how to properly eat Khinkali without making a mess! We also prepared Churchkhela; a dessert consisting of grape must, flour, and nuts. The ingredients start out as a thick boiling hot paste and then they are hung on strings to dry and harden.
After sampling some homemade chacha, or “vine vodka”, we gathered around a long table to indulge in a feast that could’ve fed an entire village. The Georgian people are extremely kind and accommodating and they receive so much joy out of hosting visitors and sharing their culture. Dinner began with a welcome song performed by a local folklore ensemble group called Gurjaani followed by countless toasts and laughs. I could see how much love was put into every dish and by the end of the day, I felt like I was leaving a summer cook out with my own family. The tour really allowed us to spend a day as a local and to create meaningful and lifelong connections with a Georgian family. This is just one example of the unique experiences that have been curating specifically for Ker & Downey clients in the awe-inspiring country of Georgia.
For more information about adding Georgia to your next Ker & Downey journey, please contact your Travel Professional. Stay up to date on all of Ker & Downey’s online content by “liking” our Facebook page.