The walled city of Sighnaghi is the beating heart of Kakheti, Georgia’s most productive wine region. This is far from the only place where grapes grow (I’ll cover some of the alternative wine regions later), but it’s definitely the most popular place to do a wine tasting in Georgia, especially since it’s so close to Tbilisi.
Marketed as ‘the city of love’, charming little Sighnaghi is encased in stone city walls and ramparts that you can climb for stunning views over the valley, hemmed in by the Caucasus mountains beyond. The small museum with works by national painter Pirosmani who was born near Sighnaghi is also worth a look in.
Beyond the town, dozens of traditional cellars and commercial wineries of varying sizes beckon visitors for guided tours and degustations. Qvevri wine, a traditional Georgian method that involves fermenting grapes in clay vessels buried underground, and more contemporary European wine-making techniques are both practiced. Join a day tour to visit a selection of popular wineries or hire a car and driver to cover the lesser-known gems on the Wine Route.
If you don’t drink, the Alazani Valley is still one of the best places in Georgia to immerse yourself in local history and religion. For every winery, there’s also a monastery – some with spectacular hilltop locations, others sunken into the deepest depths of caves.