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Georgian wine may soon be on Russian shelves

By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, November 19
After six years of embargo on Georgian wine and mineral water, there is a possibility that the Russian market for Georgian producers will be open again in the not-so-distant future.

The official representative of Russia’s Foreign Affairs department, Alexander Lukashevich, confirmed that the work of Georgian’s wine access in Russian territory has begun.

“The ministry of Foreign Affairs is not opening the markets, but we support to solve the issues like this, at this stage we cannot concretely say about the agreement’s achievements, but the issue is moving in this direction, which is very good,” said Lukashevich on November 15.

Eight Georgian companies sent the statement to Rospotrebnadzor. “These eight companies may be the first that will restore delivery,” Onishenko said. According to Onishenko, the documents have already been checked and only the Russian specialists’ visit to Georgia is left in order to inspect the factories.

Onishenko refused to say if the companies will be able to enter the market at the end of this year. According to him, Georgian producers have to perform all the official procedures to enter the market. Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, Davit Kirvalidze stated on November16 that “the negotiations will take two or three months, in this process rapidity is not desirable, it is better to achieve it slowly but with suitable guarantees– the negotiations’ irreversibility is important,” he said. Kirvalidze added that the consultations will be led by the special representative of the Ministry for Georgian - Russian relations, Zurab Abashidze.

Georgian wine experts and wine producers believe that the Russian market’s possible opening will broaden Georgia’s prospects.

Member of Georgia’s Wine Club Aleko Tskitishvili points out the risks that are characteristic to Russian market. “We know the Russian market’s specific character and that there was a possibility of low-quality product’s getting on the market. After embargo there were positive steps in Georgian wine-making, the quality of Georgian wine increased and with the possible return to the Russian market, the high-quality must be maintained,” Tskitishvili explained.

Tskitishvvili said that there is a political risk as well. To protect from this kind of risk, the experts consider diversifying the markets. Tskitishvili thinks that the Georgian wine field should not be attached to only one market “as it was before”. “If it is not attached to one market, the political decision-embargo from Russia will not be so painful, as it was before,” explained Tskitishvili. Tskitishvili highlighted the threats that Georgian wine will have, as during the absence of Georgian wine on Russian shelves, other wines replaced them and the competition will be difficult and the political risk increases the weight of marketing expenses.

Shota Khobelia, the head of Teliani Valley, one of the wine producing companies in Georgia, directs his attention to these risks, saying that company has to solve its marketing expenses, but there will be a big risk to be told to leave the market.

Georgian wine and mineral waters left the Russian market in 2006 based on the decision of Rospotrebnadzor; the reason of embargo named was due to the “low-quality” of the product.