The Shavnabada monks have restored the centuries-old wine cellar of the monastery and are now making Rkatsiteli and Saperavi in the traditional qvevri style.
The people. Shavnabada Monastery is a medieval Georgian Orthodox Monastery named in honor of St. George and is located at the top of Shavnabada Mountain, in southeastern Georgia, some 30 km from Tbilisi.
The Shavnabada cellar, “The Monastery Blessed”, was restored in 1992 and has produced some of Georgia’s most classical wines since 1998. The Monastery vineyards are planted in Melaani, Kakheti. Grapes from perish members and friends are also utilized under the strict supervision of the Monks.
In the cellar. Hand harvested grapes are transported to the winery south of Tbilisi and foot trodden in the traditional wooden press “Satsnakheli”. The badagi (grape must) is poured into Qvevri where the wine macerates on the skins for approximately 2 weeks for red wine and 6 months for white sorts. A small amount of So2 is burned in the empty Qvevri before vinification, no other additions are made. When done properly wine can be aged in Qvevri for years, even decades, only to emerge stable, complex and harmonious.
Shavnabada 2003 Rkatsiteli was only recently bottled after spending 12 years in Qvevri, the 2007 Saperavi aged for 8. Wines are not fined, nor filtered and bottled by hand. A priority of the Monastery is to serve as a repository and educate future generations in these traditional techniques. The bottleneck is covered with beswax from Shavnabada’s own bees. In addition to wine they produce literally tons of wild honey each year. The whole production is Certified Organic by Green Caucasus.