Former US government contractor turned Georgia guide! After two years in the Caucasus, working as a contractor, I realized that I was completely and utterly in love with Georgian culture (especially, the culture of wine making) and decided to follow my heart and become a tour guide for this most unique destination.
I first began taking groups of friends to Eastern Georgia, Kakheti, which by then I knew like a palm of my hand. Then, I gradually began marketing commercial “Tours with Kara”. I now take groups of tourists from the former USSR (I am also fluent in Russian) to the Cradle of Wine, as Georgians lovingly call their country, on a regular basis. I offer 4 and 7 day itineraries.
My latest addition, which I market to Western clientele is a 5-day introductory course into the art of Georgian winemaking, which teaches the basics of traditional, kvevri (clay amphorae with no handles that are buried underground) fermentation of whole grapes (complete with the skin and seeds, which adds some unique properties to the wine). I custom tailor my tours to individual preferences and work with clients before the commencement of the tour to ensure that all their wishes are met by my custom package. This includes the details of itineraries, accommodation types, pace of the tour, etc. I can also provide information on the places to stay, eat and taste for Kakheti.
Please let me know what else you would like to hear from me. Thank you and look forward to hearing from you soon!
Interview with Kara
When did you discover your passion for wine?
In my 20s and 30s, I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and frequently travelled to Napa and Sonoma counties. It is then that I began learning the intricacies of everything wine – from the process of fermentation to all the tones of a wine bouquet.
What are your key highlights of the Georgia wine region?
Last year Georgian traditional wine making method was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List – more reason to come to the birthplace of viticulture! Georgia was able to preserve its uniqueness, which manifests itself in the traditional way of living around winemaking. The integral part of it is supra – a traditional sit-down dinner at a big spread full of tasty dishes, accompanied by a polyphonic singing.
Georgia was also able to preserve its cultural heritage: it is home to over 2500 churches, cathedrals, monasteries and citadels. The tradition of warm welcoming of guests is a key part of this heritage. Combined with natural generosity of the Georgian soul, openness and sincerity, it will transform the traveller’s experience in Georgia into the most touching and unforgettable memory he or she would have for the rest of their life. Georgian rich culture also includes the fiery dances with each region having its own motif and costumes. Last, but not least, is Georgian food – it is to die for! A typical spread includes assortment of kebabs, appetizers made of walnut paste and vegetables, chicken with walnut sauce, baked cheese bread, and many more.
Do you have a personal favourite winery in the region and if so why?
Kakheti, Georgia’s wine country, offers a variety of wineries for every budget – from small family operated ones to multi-million dollar ventures. If I had to choose one, I’d choose the winner of many European and International wine competitions, winery Khareba. Their wine is exquisite! My other favourite is Schuchmann Wines Georgia, a joint German-Georgian enterprise, and a success story of restoration of an old Kakhetian winery. They make wines per the both European and a traditional methods. The latter one is called kvevri wine. That’s how Georgians have been making it from the time immemorial.
Which wine region in the world would you like to visit next?
I would love to visit Himmelheim, Germany, that is famous for both its riesling and grapeseed oil.
What is a traditional local wine and food pairing dish?
It’s Rkatsiteli (white dry wine). I like it best with satsivi, chicken with walnut sauce.
Read Kara’s Georgia travel guide and tips here or check out her guided tour.