Harvesting Rkatsiteli in Napareuli, Georgia (Sakartvelo)


Under a warm sun, Kathy and I began harvesting in the original Napa, a small town in the Kakheti region of the country Georgia called Napareuli. Knowledgeable harvesters were in the vineyards at 6:00 am. By 11:00 am the sun was sharing it warmth. We were picking Rkatsiteli, the most planted white variety in Georgia. Using a knife and basket, we proceeded down a row. It didn’t take long for the basket to fill, and there was always someone to pick it up, take it to a cart and dump the grapes. The basket was returned and we continued cutting grape bunches from the vines with a knife.

Although adults were in the vineyards, so were children. Two of the youngest children decided to take a break and sit on the shady side of a row of vines, singing songs. The children were ever attentive to any of our needs, getting our baskets and bringing water so we could wash our hands (picking grapes gets sticky after awhile). English is taught in the schools and the children could speak some English. We asked one of the older girls how long she had helped with harvest. She commented, all of her life. Families involved in the grape harvest, called Rtveli, dates back to ancient times.

While harvesting, I reflected on the history of this land. Grapes have been cultivated, harvested and made into wine for 8,000 years. Long before the Ancient Greeks and Romans grew grapes and made wine, the land in the Kakheti region had families in vineyards picking grapes under the warm September sunshine.


Kathy examines the grape bunches. We removed any MOG and grapes that we didn’t want in the wine.


After this cart was filled, the grapes were taken to Twins Wine Cellar. Trucks filled with grapes were constantly transporting grapes to the wineries in Kakheti, reminding me of a September visit to Sonoma.

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