Taste Georgian Wines with Sarah Grunwald of Taste Georgia

Sarah hanging out in a qvevri. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald
Sarah hanging out in a qvevri. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald

We are excited to be hosting a few tasting events with Sarah Grunwald, founder of Taste Georgia, over the next few weeks in California. Sarah is a sommelier and Georgia enthusiast. Hopefully you can join us at one of the events listed at the end of the post!

Allow Sarah to introduce herself and her company:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Blue Danube this summer to co-host three Georgian wine tastings in California with the support of the Georgian National Wine Agency. Blue Danube is a leader in the emerging Eastern European wine markets which includes the Republic of Georgia, the oldest known wine region in the world. We’ll taste a variety of wines, which both represents the ancient techniques and also showcases the way Georgians are embracing modernity.

I contacted Blue Danube a few months ago about this then potential collaboration in California that will be held while I am visiting. Though I live in Rome, Italy, I am from California, a state that nursed my passion for wine until I moved to the old world. I studied for and passed the sommelier exam and eventually started teaching a University level class at the Instituto Lorenzo de Medici in Rome. I have also studied with WSET and I own a food and wine travel company called Antiqua Tours which offers food, wine and cultural excursions in and around Rome, focusing on the Lazio region.

In 2014, I was invited to speak at a wine tourism conference in Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgia was familiar to me for one thing, the qvevri. I am a great advocate for natural wines and in Italy- this means Josko Gravner, a vigneron in Friuli who uses qvevri that he imported from Georgia. I accepted the invitation to Georgia as any wine lover would. Being in Georgia and witnessing a qvevri opening, and drinking the clear wine from the depths of the earth gave me an epiphany. I was hooked, line and sinker.

Traditional marani, or cellar room for qvevri. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald
Traditional marani, or cellar room for qvevri. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald

Since that first trip, I have returned to Georgia six times. Learning about its wine, meeting wine makers and becoming ever more familiar with Georgian culture. What I have learned and hope to convey is the timelessness of wine in Georgian culture. I am sure our tastings will be exciting and new for most of our guests. The first time I had a wine from a qvevri, I was at a loss for words. The aromas, the taste and the feel of the wine made me feel as if I had to make up an entirely new vocabulary for these wines. They can be exhilarating, as if you just discovered a secret world.

My passion for Georgian wine, food and culture has become a business. In June 2014, I launched a food and wine travel company called Taste Georgia. Our mission is to provide authentic cultural experiences in the Republic of Georgia through the context of food and wine. Our goals are for guests to become fully immersed in famous Georgian Hospitality, while food lovers discover a new region and find inspiration in the diversity of Georgian culinary traditions, and wine lovers step back in time and discover the birthplace of wine.

Vineyard in Georgia. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald
Vineyard in Georgia. Photo courtesy Sarah Grunwald

My personal goal is to bring part of my heart, Georgia, back to my homeland in California. I hope to provide cultural context for the wines that we will taste. These wines were selected from the Blue Danube portfolio because they represent the current trends in Georgia right now. We’ll taste wines made traditionally, in qvevri, with no intervention, wines made that combine the traditional with the modern, and wine from a producer who completely embraces the European style of wine making using Georgian grapes.

If you are interested in the next great wine region, come join us, taste with us and share our table.”

Tastes dates and times:

Georgian Wine Flight Night at Buzz Beer Wine Shop in L.A – Thursday July 23rd 7-10pm. Additional details here.

Tasting at The Rose in San Diego – Thursday August 13th in the evening. Additional details here.

Georgian BBQ at Babushka Restaurant in Walnut Creek – Saturday August 15th 12-5pm. Additional details here.


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