Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wine making in Georgia a 6,000 year old tradition

The republic of Georgia is one of the world's oldest winemaking countries. It is believed that winemaking began in the Caucasus region around 6,000 years ago in the lands that are now Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and eastern Turkey.


While I was in Georgia, we had the opportunity to visit a wine factory in Gurjaani. In the video above, you will see a worker uncovering the qvevri. The qvevri is an earthern ware vessel used for making, aging and storing wine. The wine making process involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice and grape skins into the qvevri. The qvevri is then sealed and buried in the ground allowing the wine to ferment for five to six months. Most homes in Gurjanni have a wine cellar and wine making is a tradition that has been handed down for centuries.

In the video below, you will see the qvevri being opened. After the qvevri was opened, I was able to taste the wine. It was an incredible experience.





Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making Bread the Georgian Way

Let me say, first of all, that food, family, wine and traditions are some of the most important things to the Georgian people. As part of my Teachers for Global Classrooms experience, I got to participate in a traditional bread (puri) making session that was planned by my host teacher Nana Tatiashvili. It was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget.

The bread is baked in a circular clay oven (called a tone), and the fire must be very hot.


Next the coals are stirred with a broom to make sure the fire is ready.


The dough is prepared ahead of time, but the baker rolls out the dough on site.


 This is the interesting part, the dough is placed on the side of the clay oven (tone). As you reach into the oven, it is very hot and you have to be careful!



The finished product!



 Thank you Nana Tatiashvili!






Monday, March 21, 2016

Sighnaghi Fortress


The Sighnaghi Fortress or wall is about 3 miles in length. It has 23 towers and was built in the 17th century. From the wall, you can see wonderful views of the Alazani valley and the Caucasus mountains.





Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sighnaghi

Sighnaghi, a town in Georgia's region of Kakheti, became a settlement in the 18th century. King Heraclius II of Georgia erected a fortress to defend the area from being attacked by the Persians. Under the Soviet Union, the town became an agricultural center. It sits atop a mountain and the views are gorgeous. The tourist is a tourist destination and features 18th and 19th century architecture. The Bodbe Monastery of St. Nino is also in this area.

Making Khinkali

If you have never had Khinkali, you are missing out. Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling. The original recipe consisted of a mixture of lamb, beef or pork as well as onions, chili pepper, salt and cumin. As part of my TGC experience I got to make one and believe me it is much harder than it looks. When it is cooked, the juices are trapped inside. When someone takes their first bite, they are expected to suck out the juices so the dumpling does not burst. The top, where the pleat is, is not eaten. When you eat the dumpling, you are supposed to use your hands.

Friday, March 18, 2016

An Incredible Welcome From School #4 In Gurjaani, Georgia

Today I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit School #4 in Gurjanni, Georgia. Nana Tatiashvili is our host teacher and interpreter and what an incredible welcome we received. First we met the principal, then we met several teachers and on to Nana's classroom. There was food, wine (that a student had pressed themselves), homemade artwork and poems spoken in English and of course Georgian dancing. The students were happy to see us and we were very impressed with their English vocabulary. The wine was an extra special gift because Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. UNESCO added the ancient tradition of Georgia winemaking to its Cultural Heritage List.

The wonderful dance group
Priscilla and I and Nana Tatiashvili's class
The student who pressed the grapes.

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The Classroom
The 8th grade students
The principal

Thursday, March 17, 2016

On the way to Gurjaani...

Today Priscilla, my TGC fellow partner, and I left Tbilisi for Gurjaani, Georgia. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and home to 1.5 million people. Gurjaani is 110 km east of Tbilisi and is home to about 10,000 people. Tbilisi is a city and Gurjaani is rural. It was a beautiful drive and our driver was incredibly nice. He not only stopped and bought us Churchkhela, a sausage-shaped candy made with grape must, nuts and flour. Almonds, walnuts, hazel nuts and sometimes raisins are threaded onto a string and dipped in grape juice and dried in the shape of a sausage. The driver also stopped so we could visit the Niakhuri Fortress. Priscilla and I were saying prayers as we went up the steep slope, but to our happy surprise, when we went inside there was a shepherd and his sheep! 





Our friendly driver who bought us Churchkhela.

Niakhuri Fortress
The shepherd and his sheep