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Georgia: land of female winemakers


In the world of winemaking, it hasn't always been easy for women to find their place and gain recognition for their wines. It took decades for women to finally become more visible and acclaimed in all wine-related fields. So, what about Georgia, the magnificent country known as the birthplace of wine?

Even though the country has sometimes had a patriarchal culture, it also recognizes the talents and merits of women without whom this country would not be what it is today. Perhaps the most well-known example is the story of Queen Tamar, the daughter of George III, who ruled between 1184 and 1213. She not only turned the malevolent taunts of the aristocracy into respectful admiration but also protected the country with an iron hand against foreign invasions, consolidating the kingdom. Georgians still hold her in such high regard that they refer to her today as "Tamar, the King."

Therefore, it's no surprise that in the vineyards of Georgia, we find an increasing number of women proudly representing the land. Let's meet some of these fascinating individuals who share boundless energy and an uncompromising love for wine.

Baia Abuladze, the entrepreneurial big sister

Baia’s wine, Imereti
Average annual production: 40,000 bottles
Percentage of exports: approximately 70%

In the Abuladze family, as is often the case in Georgia, winemaking is a family affair. For Baia, a cheerful woman in her thirties, her connection to the vine began early as she helped her parents manage their two hectares of farmland, including a vineyard that provided wine for the family and friends. In 2009, Baia and her family decided to introduce their wine, straight from 20-liter tanks, at the New Wine Festival in Tbilisi. This experience was a revelation. The support and goodwill of other winemakers, along with the public's interest in Imereti wines, made them realize that it was possible to create quality wines while remaining a small-scale operation.

Baia Abuladze / ©Aurélien Foucault

Inspired by Nino Zambakhidze, a prominent figure in the Georgian Farmers Association running a dairy production business, Baia recognized that women could carve out a significant place in agriculture. At the age of 22, after studying unrelated subjects, she committed herself to larger-scale wine production.

With various government and international scholarships, Baia and her younger siblings, Giorgi and Gvantsa, founded Baia's Wine, which quickly gained both local and international success. The Abuladze family now owns 15 hectares, with 12 already under vines, and their bottles are distributed in a dozen countries. Baia's achievements earned her a spot on Forbes' 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs list. However, as Baia likes to emphasize, it's primarily a family success.

Her 28-year-old sister, Gvantsa, has also launched her line of red and rosé wines, and the entire family participates in this endeavor.


Nino Chitoshvili / ©Aurélien Foucault

Nino Chitoshvili,
the uncompromising independent

Chito’s Wine, Kakhétie
Average annual production: 4,500 bottles
Percentage of exports: 97%

Nino, 52, is Georgian but spent a significant part of her life in Russia, working as a professional pianist. Upon returning to Georgia, she started working as a wine tourism guide in 2010 and became captivated by the world of natural wine alongside the pioneers of natural wine and the team at Gvino Underground. She's full of praise for the late, legendary vine magician Soliko Tsaishvili. Despite living mostly in the city, Nino decided to follow her desires for peace and nature and moved to the countryside to produce her own natural Kakhetian wine in qvevri, without compromise. In her village of Marktopi, surrounded by her husband Vano and an ever-growing herd of rescued street dogs, Nino carefully crafts her wine, speaking of it as if it were a beloved child. Her production quantity is small but of exceptional quality. She reserves 97% of it for export, as she believes it will be better appreciated abroad.


Tamara Bidzinashvili / ©Aurélien Foucault

Tamara Bidzinashvili,
the terroir mixologist

Kortavebis Marani / Tamunas Wine, Kakhétie
Average annual production: 6,000 bottles
Percentage of exports: 80%

Tamara Bidzinashvili, 36, exudes the aura of a punk poet, reminiscent of Patti Smith. She is a nature lover with a passion for life's mysteries. While her ex-husband worked for a major wine producer, she was consumed by the desire to establish a small-scale, fully organic and natural wine production. When her husband didn't support her in this endeavor, she packed her bags and wholeheartedly committed to it. Not entirely alone, her father-in-law, impressed by her determination, decided to join her, teaching her the basics and helping her realize her somewhat audacious dream. Not only did she aim to create natural and biodynamic wine, which was rare at the time, but she also wanted to plant endemic grape varieties from other regions of Georgia in Kakheti. She searched for, collected, and planted 35 different grape varieties on her land. Fueled by her creativity, she blended them like a mixologist, resulting in wines of various types – white, red, rosé, and more. As a single woman from the city, divorced, she further disrupted the local wine scene. Her beginnings were challenging. However, encouraged by the emerging network of Gvino Underground and the work of other female winema­kers like Marina Kurtanidze and Keto Ninidze, she persevered, and her efforts bore fruit. She released her first 1,000 bottles in 2014, and her undeniable talent for blending quickly won over importers. French winemaker

Thierry Puzelat (Clos du Tue-Boeuf) imported her wine to France and invited her to participate in the Dive Bouteille festival. This event was not only highly successful for her but also helped her realize that she had found her place in the large fa­mily of natural wine­makers. Since then, she has co-founded the 'Super Natural' festival in Georgia with friends, regularly advises and assists young winemakers, and invites foreign importers to discover new producers. Her wines, under the labels 'Kortavebis Marani' and 'Tamuna's Wine,' are avai­lable in numerous countries, and her Saperavi, which she named ‘Temo’ in honor of her father-in-law, who helped her significantly, has been added to the menu at the renowned NOMA restaurant in 2023.


Ane Parjiani / ©Aurélien Foucault

Ane Parjiani, the new generation

Region : Kartli

Ane, 22, has just embarked on her career as an official winemaker. She works as a cellar employee at the prestigious Chateau Mukhrani, and she recently earned her winemaking diploma. Although she comes from a Svane family (Svaneti being one of the few regions in Georgia with few vineyards), Ane grew up watching her father produce wine in the cellar of their home in Gldani. He made wine to serve at frequent celebrations and to offer to passing friends. Despite not having a strong liking for her family's homemade wine, Ane always felt drawn to the world of vineyards. Her turning point came after she studied an article about female winemakers in her French class. Although she finds the work physically demanding, she thrives in a career filled with constant surprises, and the work in the cellar brings her unparalleled satisfaction. With substantial experience working alongside master winemaker Patrick Honnef and a background in South African vineyards, Ane represents a new generation of winemakers. She combines academic knowledge with practical experience. Even though she grew up in an urban environment, she possesses a deep understanding of the significance of wine and vines. Ane and her peers are determined to ensure that Georgia remains not just the birthplace of wine but also its future.

Text and photos: Aurélien Foucault