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15 Jun, 2007 02:11

Downpours damage wine on the vine in Georgia

Up to sixty families in Georgia have become victims of heavy rainfalls in the northwest of Georgia. Three days of deluge have seriously damaged villages and vineyards of the Racha region of Georgia, where the rare Khvanchkara wine is produced.

For local residents this is a disaster for the region’s winemaking.

Four large villages were affected by the three-day deluge. Houses, roads and vineyards were destroyed. The area administration has already mobilised clean-up operations. No casualties were reported, but people were frightened by this disaster.

“It was awful, suddenly the weather changed and it came from nowhere, heavy rain and wind and thunderstorm. Even the elderly in our village cannot remember anything like this,” Natela Tavadze, local resident, said.

The road to several villages in the high mountain region of Rocha in Georgia was washed away by mudslides. The local government promises to rebuild the road within days.

“The clean-up work is already underway. This is one of the worst affected areas, and we are thinking about two days to repair the damage,” Otar Siradze, the President's envoy to the region assured.

Racha is a beautiful historical high mountain region in the north of the country. It covers 25 000 sq KM. The territory is rich in mineral water and is a home to the popular red wine Khvanchkara.

Winemakers were heartbroken to see the Khvanchkara vineyards destroyed.

“It will take at least 3 years for this to grow back to normal, and will need lot of work, it is not going to be easy,” said winemaker Indiko Chachkunashvili whose vineyard was destroyed by the disaster. He says he has put in a tremendous amount of work into his vineyard which used to give him over a 1,000 kilos of grapes per season.