Website: Pheasant's Tears Winery
Country Location: Georgia
The name Pheasant's Tears comes from a Georgian tale in which the hero claims that only a wine beyond measure could make a pheasant cry tears of joy.
The people. Pheasant’s tears was founded in 2007 by John Wurdeman, an American painter that moved to the Georgian town of Sighnaghi to follow his two passions — wine and art — and Georgian winemaker and farmer Gela Patalishvili.
With a family that has been making wine for eight generations, Gela has an extensive knowledge of the entire growing region of Kakheti, one of Georgia's main wine districts. Together, their goal is to make natural wines while preserving and sharing the traditions of this amazing country.
In the vineyards. The estate has vineyards in Kartli, and multiple regions of Kakheti and source grapes from natural growers in Imerti as well. They bottle a wide range of different Georgian varieties. including Chinuri, Mtsvane, Kisi, Tsolikauri, Rkatsiteli, Shavkapito, Tavkveri, Saperavi, and a brandy, Georgian chacha.
Gela's commitment to organic principles started with the purchase of the Saperavi vineyards in 2007, which received international organic certification in 2010. These organic practices are essential both in order to protect the land from misuse and harsh chemicals and to help develop the rich terroir that is reflected in each Pheasant's Tears bottle.
In the cellar. All the wines are fermented and aged in qvevri, a unique Georgian vessel used to ferment and store wine. Qvevri were the first vessels ever to be used for wine fermentation, with archaeological finds dating back to 6000 BC. Qvevri are clay vessels lined with beeswax and completely buried under the ground where the temperature stays even thoughout the year, allowing the wines to ferment in the natural coolness of the earth. Pheasant’s Tears qvevri vary in age but some date back to the mid 19th C.
Following the Georgian traditional winemaking methods, the ripest of stems are added to the grape skins, juice and pits, for both the reds and whites. The maceration time depends on the varietal and the size of the qvevri and varies between 3 weeks and 6 months.