Website: Papari Valley Winery
Country Location: Georgia
Our mission is to find the best synthesis of Georgian Qvevri and modern winemaking. We aim at preserving and saving the most important idea: the wines made in Qvevri — Nukri Kurdadze
Nukri Kurdadze in the marani opening a qvevri
Nukri Kurdadze was a Georgian wines brand manager for Pernod Ricard when he founded Papari Valley with his wife Keti and started growing grapes in the Kakhetian village of Akhasheni. After buying two hectares of vineyards in 2004, they produced their first experimental wine in 2007. Their first commercial release started with the 2015 vintage.
You can see the Caucasus mountains from the top of the winery
The winery and vineyards are situated above the village of Akhasheni, in the Gurjaani district. Although the location is at the intersection of three famed Kakhetian wine districts: Akhasheni (for semi-sweet red wine made from Saperavi), Mukuzani (for Saperavi wines aged in oak barrels for at least three years) and Gurjaani (for dry Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane wines), the rules of these appellations are too restrictive and the Papari Valley wines don't comply to any of them.
Vineyards planted on wavy hills
In the Vineyards
Bounded by the forest, the vineyards lie on a sloping plateau with a wavy landscape, hence the name Papari (papari in Georgian means horse mane). A horse drawn by Nukri and Keti's son, Sandro, was used to design the winery's logo. This micro-zone, at 450-500m above sea-level, is characterized by a unique soil consisting of six layers of alluvial components.
Papari Valley Logo
Some of the purchased vineyards were planted during the Soviet era, when the main interest was quantity and not quality and chemicals were heavily used. Therefore, many plants had to be replaced with new rootstocks and only strong and healthy plants were kept. Today, the family organically farms 9.3 hectares, 80% planted with Saperavi and 20% with Rkatsiteli. The ages of the vines are 8, 15 and 45 years. The farming philosophy is to follow nature and avoid synthetic herbicides, pesticides or systemic treatments. Since 2008, the winery is a member of the bio agricultural association “Elkana”.
The first and second terraces in the marani
In the Cellar
Thanks to his engineering background, Nukri designed an innovative system of 3 terraces of qvevris that takes advantage of gravity and allows gentle vinification without the use of electromechanical pumps.
The Three Terraced System
The first two terraces are located in the marani and are for fermentation and aging. The third terrace is in the basement and is used for the best wines that require longer aging. Gravity is used to transfer wine from one terrace to another. This method allows the young wine to develop well in a natural environment without damage at the microbiological level. There is a total of 21 qvevris, the volume of which varies from 1000 to 1500 liters. The wines are unfiltered and fermented with naturally occurring yeast and no artificial intervention.