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George Tushmalishvili - Country of Liquid Sun

Friday, May 22
How can we characterise the period of Georgian wine making which is connected with the name and activities of Giorgi Tushmalishvili? Georgian wineries were quickly gaining capacity new wineries were being built, the latest scientific and technical achievements were being introduced and there were new brands of wine and champagne and cognac being created which earned international recognition and made their way onto the world market and made Georgian produce famous.

Giorgi Tushmalishvili was born into the family of the Tsinandali Estate Administrator, Aleksandre Tushmalishvili, in 1921 in Tsinandali. He graduated from the Technological Faculty of the Georgian Agricultural Institute in 1943 with the specially, of engineer-technologist of wine making.

Initially, Tushmalishvili started to work at the Kulari farm as a wine maker and then moved to the Crimea in 1945 where he continued his activities as a senior wine maker at the No.1 Winery of "Masindar” centre. Just after coming to work at "Masindar, he was awarded the title of wine maker of the highest category in 1950.

From 1952, Tushmalishvili was transferred to Tbilisi upon the solicitation of the “Samtrest” administration to take the position of senior wine market and was appointed Head of the Industrial Department of “Samtrest" in 1954. From 1961, he continued his activities as the Director of Tbilis's Champagne Factory. The quality of Georgian champagne wines increased considerably in that period with the volume of production increasing to seven million bottles. Additionally, several technological Innovations were introduced for the production of champagne wines and the factory was re-equipped. In Union-wide exhibitions, the factory’s products were awarded first place standings several times by the wine tasting commission.

The main base for conducting the Tenth International Congress of Viticulture and Wine Making in 1962 was the Tbilisi Champagne Factory. Foreign guests were astonished by the technical soundness of the factory's equipment and production processes.

In 1965, Tushmalishvili was appointed as the Chief Wine Maker of "Samtrest." That very year, Georgia's capital Tbilisi-for the first time in the Soviet Union -hosted the World Tasting of Wine, Champagne and Cognac Products event. The role of the Chief Wine Maker of "Samtrest" held a great responsibility, as well as pride, in the epicenter of these very important events.

In 1967, Tushmalishvili was appointed as the Director of "Samtrest". The volume of Georgian export wines was increasing every year and achieved three million deciliters. Georgian vintage wines earned 160 gold and silver medals in international tasting and obtained recognition throughout the world.

Tushmalishvill's father, Aleksandre, was an agronomist, well-known throughout Kakheti and a good expert in wine making who was also considered to be extremely skilled at establishing farms. He planted his own collection of vines for his son Giorgi in their yard in Tbilisi and commissioned him to take care of the plants with a strict observance of rules. It was the knowledge, obtained under his father's leadership, which formed the basis for the formation of Giorgi Tushmalishvili as specialist in his field.

Giorgi Tushmalishvili's sister, Tina, recalls: "My father, Aleksandre, completed the Second Gymnasium for Boys in Tbilisi. His elder brothers, Zakaria, Grigol and Nikoloz, were military men. At that time, the sons of princes and nobles were brought up in Russia as military cadets. It was prestigious then, Russians were eager to have Georgian warriors - we had great military talent. His parents learned that my father was keen on agriculture and took him to an agricultural school. The boys, in addition to their studies, were working on practical activities as well and had their vegelable gardens, other gardens and vineyards. The prominent Geargian gardener, Mikheil Mamulashvilli, studied together with my father".

There were many difficult periods for Giorgi Tushmalishvili. He often had to fight against non-professional leaders who made wrong decisions such as trying to develop master plans and construct giant wineries for processing two to 40 thousand tons of grapes, using large reinforced concrete reservoirs instead of oak barrels, harvesting non-conditional grapes, hastening the start of the vintage, not observing the irrigation regimes of vineyards, not taking into consideration the suitability of the plots selected for vineyards into consideration, etc. amongst others.

Tushmalishvili was often invited to the Agricultural Institute of Georgia as the Chairman of the State Examination Commission of Wine Makers - Technologists. He participated in international congresses of viticulture and wine making in Tbilisi, Romania, Chile and Argentina as well as in the activities of international tasting commissions in Yugoslavia in 1956, Hungary in 1964, Tbilisi in 1965 and Yalta in 1970 and obtained gold medals for being the best wine taster everywhere he went.

"I worked in the Crimea for seven years," recalled Tushmalishvili "and hosted even Churchill and Roosevelt. Churchill had a good understanding of drinks. Stalin sent him 75 bottles of Eniseli cognac for his seventy-fifth birthday. We received an answer from Churchill: I’m sorry I didn't turn 100..."

With all his life and activities, Giorgi Tushmalishvili wanted to prove the superiority of Georgia as a wine making country with an excellent quality of produce. "I strongly believe that, with the exception of France, there is no wine making country that could compete with Georgia in terms of quality wine making. Our country has absolutely special soil and climatic conditions. Europeans do not believe that about 500 endemic vine varieties are registered in Georgia - and this is the result of selection during many centuries."