A Visit to Schuchmann Wines Chateau
The silence is only disturbed by the monotonous chirping of crickets, the twittering of birds, and fragments of conversations carried out at low volume. From a table near the veranda railing, the Alazani Valley appears like the palm of a hand—with the entire Caucasus mountain range spreading out along its length. The space is so endless you will think you’re in a world with no borders. Poems are written at times like this. Yet when writing a poem, the important thing is for your eyes not to be diverted, but what will you do if, at precisely this moment, the freshly-mixed salads with Georgian spices, darkened Kakhetian oil, and crushed walnuts along with steaming loaves of bread and gouda cheese are brought to the table? What else is there for you to do? You must give up searching for rhymes and transfer your gaze from the Caucasus to the delicious Kakhetian feast laid before you, comforting yourself with the fact that you are attempting to write a poem right here on the same veranda during sunset – the Caucasus is going nowhere.
Thus, it is. We are in the village of Kisiskhevi in Telavi region at the tourist complex of the wine producer “Schuchmann Wines.” It is a completely unique place where you can be a poet, a gourmand, and an emboldened vacationer.
Some things have more or less been said regarding poetry and being a gourmand. As for being emboldened ... I believe the first swimming pool in Kakheti appeared here at the Chateau. Even to this day, one's gaze is unable to accustom to the rippling blue water against the expansive backdrop of the Caucasus mountains in the heart of Kakheti. Yet, it’s there – even now, a few vacationers jump into the pool's clear water in front of me and tan themselves in the heat of the Kakhetian sun, stretched out on chaise-lounges.
To the right are some exemplary vineyards – alas, if you were to have a sudden desire for grapes. Standing a bit before them is a golf course. To the left is a BBQ area and a “tone” oven where you can yourself slap loaves of crescent-shaped bread onto the oven’s sides – which will soon come out as hot, crispy bread. If you were to arrive in October, you might dip some churchkhela yourself, see how grape seed oil is distilled, press some grapes in a wine press, ladle some wine out of a kvevri, and then, exhausted, hurry away to the wine spa. There, wine therapists will apply grapeseed scrubs, mud wraps, and hot wine baths to look after the health of your skin, the soothing of your nerves, and the cleansing of your mind.
Schuchmann Wines Chateau and Spa officially opened in the village of Kisiskhevi in 2010. A German businessman, Burkhard Schuchmann, became interested in this place in 2006. Construction began shortly after, and the company opened the first tourist center providing vacationers with a superior level of service.
Today, from the viewpoint of wine tourism, this complex is the first in the region, annually scoring near the top on online platforms such as booking.com.
As we already noted, what distinguishes Schuchmann Wines Chateau and Spa from other similar complexes is the superior quality of its service and its unique environment. This unique environment is exemplified by a guest and fitness complex where German precision and modesty are combined with Kakhetian hospitality and local color.
Even the location is opportune – one can easily plan tours from the village of Kisiskhevi to see the Kakheti’s other historical and modern sights. Still, you can do many things without ever leaving the Chateau.
In addition to being offered elaborate, modern versions of Georgian cuisine by a chef invited from Tbilisi, you can participate in culinary masterclasses yourself and prepare some Georgian dishes for yourself.
Apart from seeing the Schuchmann Wines factory, you will see where the grapes are pressed, where the wine undergoes fermentation, how the wine is stored in unique French oak barrels, and the Georgian fermentation vessel made using traditional technology – the kvevri. You will also be able to press wine yourself, which will then be bottled for you with your name written on it and sent off with you as proof of some unforgettable Kakhetian memories.
Two million bottles of wine each year are produced at the Schuchmann Wines factory, which operates near the Chateau. Seventy percent of the wine is produced using European methods and the other 30 percent is produced in kvevris under the brand “Vinoterra.” Vivacious wines as well as chacha aged in French oak barrels – in addition to homemade wines – are made here on location. Ten traditional varieties of Georgian grapes are used by the company's wine technologists and 20-25 types of wine are produced under different brands.
The company owns 120 sprawling hectares of vineyards in Napareuli and Kindzmarauli. Yet, some additional new land has been purchased. There, the company is planning the restoration and popularization of Georgian grape varieties that are currently under threat of dying out. There is a high demand for wine on the export market (including great interest from newly-established export markets such as China) and it is Schuchmann’s desire to successfully meet the demands of the market.
I learned all of this without ever leaving the Chateau – while on a small wine tour. Thus, everyone visiting Schuchmann Wines Chateau is left with some unique insights concerning the history of Georgian wine, the diversity of grape varieties, and the unique nature and potential of the kvevri.
When visiting the Chateau, the details of the visit are clearly determined by the theme of wine. A wine tasting is included in the price (the average price for a room in season is 250 lari) along with breakfast. The price for room cleaning and additional fees have also been taken into account.
Here, there are twenty rooms of different types, including family dwellings, luxury suites, and more. Yet the aesthetic line coursing through everything is a minimalist design with natural building materials – old, fired bricks from dismantled houses in Kakhetian villages as well as hand-worked stone and wood.
The wine spa is also distinguished by an interesting design, which includes stainless-steel cisterns for hot wine baths – the very same metal in which wine fermentation takes place. There is also a sauna, a couples’ room, and a break room.
I left this complex with the following impression: Schuchmann Wines Chateau and Spa is a synthesis of European quality with the Kakhetian traditions of the village of Kisiskhevi. In other words, it is a completely unique mix which you can taste yourself in any season. Perhaps there you might even write a poem.