Premium Food & Wine in Georgia & Armenia

13 Days /  12 nights

Wine Tours to the Caucasus: Georgia & Armenia

The slopes of the Caucasus Mountains and the Armenian Plateau are the world’s oldest winemaking sites. The Armenian village of Areni is home to the remains of the planet’s oldest winery that operated 6,100 years ago. Even though vine cultivation in this part of the world didn’t become a formidable and technologically advanced industry like it did in Europe, the region has preserved its indigenous grape varieties and unique methods of winemaking that have been passed down from one generation to the next for thousands of years.

Today, the Caucasus is experiencing a genuine winemaking renaissance: as traditional methods are reimagined with modern technologies, new wineries and enotecas are spreading like wildfire, rare indigenous varieties of grapes are being cultivated, and traditional methods are once again in use alongside modern ones; Caucasian wines can even be found among elite wine lists. All of this makes the Caucasus one of the planet’s most riveting wine regions, and we invite you to explore it with us.

 

Wine people

Meetings with people, especially the winemakers, form an important part of all our wine tours. Their backgrounds may differ, but they all share a deep passion for wine. We believe that such encounters create memories for life. 

Not just wine

Our wine tours are not limited to wine tastings, gourmet feasts and visits to local wineries. We also visit the most important historical attractions in Armenia and Georgia in breathtaking natural settings, enjoy short nature walks, spontaneous encounters with local people, sample the authentic cuisine of the region and even learn cooking some of the favorite dishes of the Armenian and Georgian people.

After many years of traveling within the region and after thousands of emptied wine glasses, we’ve created a tour that should satisfy both the experienced wine connoisseur and aspiring oenophile, as well as anyone else who wants to spend two weeks in the Caucasus, regularly tasting the best local wines.

Our expedition will begin in Georgia, where we’ll visit two principal winemaking regions, Kakheti and Imereti. The second week of the trip we will spend visiting Armenian winemakers and wineries of four regions: Ararat, Aragatsotn, Vayots Dzor, Armavir.

During the trip we will visit historic locations associated with the planet’s oldest winemaking culture, and will be constantly meeting winemakers, historians and other specialists who will help us understand the nuances of local wines. This is also a gastronomic tour as it includes homemade feasts, picnics at picturesque locations and dinners in restaurants headed by outstanding chefs.

Tour Highlights:

  • See the world’s oldest winemaking sites – the Caucasus Mountains and the Armenian Plateau

  • Visit the oldest winery in the world which is 6100 years old excavated in Areni-1 Cave Complex and taste some of the most refined wines in the world in Areni village, the oldest wine making site in the world

  • Taste wine only at best local wineries in Armenia and Georgia which have gold and silver medals from International Expos such as Mundus Vini, Decanter, etc.

  • Explore the stunning capital of Georgia – Tbilisi, so colorful and cosmopolitan

  • See Yerevan, a dynamic modern European city yet known as one of the oldest cities in the world founded in 782 B.C. There are hundreds of local cafes, wine-houses and restaurants spread all over the sidewalks that will give you a chance to taste the local cuisine, beer, wine and famous Armenian cognac, known as the best in the world

  • Tour of most of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Armenia and Georgia – medieval monasteries in dramatic mountain landscapes with breathtaking sceneries

  • See the oldest Christian Church in the world – Echmiadzin Cathedral built in 301A.D. as soon as Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion

  • See the biblical Mount Ararat (5165m) from Armenia, where the Noah’s Ark rested and according to Bible Noah planted here the first grapes and made wine

  • Culinary adventures in Armenia and Georgia; Experience the uncommon Caucasian hospitality at its best meeting the friendly locals; cook with them and sample delicious and authentic local cuisine, one of the oldest in the world

  • Tour of “Ararat” Brandy Factory to taste the best brandy in the world

 
 

Rates & Departures

Please contact us to get your quote

Guaranteed Departures:

Group #1: Jun 15-27, 2020

Group #3: Oct 1-13, 2020

Group #4: Jun 15-27,2021

Group #6: Oct 1-13, 2021

* Single Supplement is the additional amount applied to the cost of the trip to those who are travelling solo and do not wish to share.

For private tours please contact us

* The minimum number of the group is 6 persons - Max. is 10 persons

 

What's Included!

Included

  • Accommodation at hotel in DBL/Twin rooms at 4* hotels (12 nights)

  • Transportation with a comfortable cars/minibuses with AC

  • English speaking guide

  • Breakfast at the hotel

  • Entrance fees to all visited places

  • Armenian bread Lavash making in a local house in Garni village

  • All wine tastings mentioned in the itinerary

  • Brandy tasting in Yerevan

  • All Cooking master classes mentioned

  • Full board meal plan 

  • Airport transfers

  • Local taxes

Not Included

  • Flights

  • Travel insurance

  • Visa to Armenia and Georgia (if required)

  • Single room supplement

  • Bank transfer fees

 

Itinerary in brief

Day 1: Arrival to Tbilisi

Upon arrival in Tbilisi, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own.

Overnight in Tbilisi (no meals)

 

Day 2: Tbilisi City tour

Breakfast at the hotel, then we start our Tbilisi tour, one of the most modern and cosmopolitan cities in the Caucasus.

We visit Metekhi Church (13th c.) of the Virgin located on a picturesque cliff opposite Abanotubani (“district of bath”), the oldest part of Tbilisi built in the 17th-18th centuries functioning to this day. Next to the baths we see Georgian Orthodox and Armenian churches, and a Jewish synagogue and a Turkish mosque side by side, reflecting Tbilisi's acceptance and tolerance of different religions. We also visit Sameba Cathedral, the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world. 

We visit one of the most famous city landmarks – the Bridge of Peace designed by a well-known Italian architect. From here the cable-car will take you to Narikala fortress (4th century) – the symbol of Tbilisi located on top of a hill with the most breathtaking view of the city. Here we visit St. Nikolas Church furnished with frescoed portraits of martyrs and scenes from the Bible.

Later we visit Sioni Church, leading to the bank of the Mtkvari River. Here you discover Shardeni Street with its fashionable cozy cafes and art galleries. Walking we will come across the Anchiskhati church, the oldest church in Tbilisi keeping the miraculous icon of Jesus Christ.  Continue to Rustaveli Avenue, where attractions such as the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Parliament, Rustaveli Theatre, different art galleries and cafes will draw your attention and provide a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Here you will find buildings of Baroque, Moorish, classical and even Stalinist architectural styles, built in the different periods of 19th and 20th centuries.

Afterwards we will have wine tasting and lunch. Later walking on the main avenue - visit the national museum of Tbilisi on Rustaveli Avenue.

In the evening dinner at the restaurant with Georgian traditional dishes.

Tour duration: 6/7 hours

Overnight in Tbilisi (B/L/D)

 

Day 3: Tbilisi – Sighnaghi – Nekresi – Telavi

After breakfast we will drive to Kakheti, the main wine region of Georgia.

Our first stop will be at the cozy Sighnaghi, a small fortified town on the slopes of the Alazani Valley. Each of the banks of the Alazani River has a different climate and is further subdivided into dozens of smaller terroirs. Here we will have wine tasting 3 types of wine, with Georgia homemade vodka – Chacha.

Continue our wine trip to Kvareli to visit another winery and also experience how to make Georgian traditional sweet- “Churchkhela” from grape juice.  After all this, we will have lunch at the restaurant, which is built in the woods. Drive to Nekresi Monastery (4th century, AD) with fascinating views of Alazani Valley.

Drive to the hotel for dinner.

Tour duration: 7/8 hours

Overnight in Telavi or nearest town (B/L/D)

 

Day 4: Telavi – Gremi –  Badiauri – Tbilisi

After breakfast we will drive to visit Gremi constructed in the 16th century by Levan, King of Kakhetians and it became the residence of the royal family. Drive to Tsinandali, historic winery which once belonged to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze (1786–1846). The Georgia Prince returning after the was of 1812 organized a European-style winery. One could say that modern Georgian wine-making began right here. We will visit the old cellar with its giant collection of vintage wine, taste the local wine and rest in a nearby garden.

After that we will have lunch and drive back to Tbilisi. On the road we will have a stop in Badiauri, to taste local bread and cheese with local family.

In the evening dinner at the restaurant.

Tour duration: 7/8 hours

Overnight in Tbilisi (B/L/D)

 

Day 5. Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gelati and Bagrati UNESCO Monasteries –  Kutaisi

After breakfast drive to visit the old capital of Georgia – Mtskheta, which is UNESCO site with its two beautiful churches Jvari and Svetitskhoveli.

We will visit village Chardakhi to taste wines of the local wine maker Yago Bitarishvili who is fully dedicated to organic viticulture and wine-making. Here you will have wine tasting and lunch.

Drive to Kutaisi-the second biggest city in Georgia. Visit Gelati Cathedral (UNESCO site), a masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture (12th century) with its wonderful mosaics and frescoes adorning the walls of all its churches. Later tour another UNESCO monastery – Bagrati Cathedral (11th century).

Dinner at the restaurant.

Tour duration: 9/10 hours

Overnight in Kutaisi (B/L/D)

 

Day 6. Kutaisi – Uplistsikhe –  Tbilisi

Drive to Uplistsikhe, rock-hewn town along the Silk Road. Built on a high rocky left bank of Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the 2nd ML BC to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures.

Wine tasting at a winery in a breathtaking setting with old vineyard terraces and gardens.

Afterwards we drive to Chateau Mukhrani , which is based on the historical tradition of wine-making in Mukhrani region. This is the first and the only true Georgian Royal Chateau, which unites four key components: vineyards, winery, castle and history. In 1512 Mukhrani became the prince’s estate, governed by Bagratuni royal family. Their wines were supplied to the Emperor of Russia, and to this day they are considered among Georgia’s finest. Here we will have a tour of the whole complex , which will end with wine degustation.

And finally, we will have dinner with Georgian traditional dances.

Drive back to Tbilisi.

Tour duration: 8/9 hours

Overnight in Tbilisi (B/L/D)

 

Day 7: Sadakhlo – Magnificent Lori Region in Debed Canyon – Haghpat – Yerevan

After breakfast we leave Tbilisi to the Armenian border. Meet your Armenian guide at Sadakhlo Georgian-Armenian border. After border formalities, we are off to the most beautiful region of Armenia - Lori nestled along the fascinating Debed River Canyon. Rugged rock, forested mountains, the fast-flowing Debed River, medieval castles and churches everywhere make this region mysteriously attractive. 

Visit Haghpat, a large medieval monastic complex built the best traditions of Armenian architecture. 

Lunch in a beautiful riverside restaurant after which we continue driving to Aragatsotn region at the foothills of the highest peak in Trans Caucasus - Mount Aragats (4090m). We visit a Winery, one of the most modern projects of the new wave of the Armenian winemaking. 

Later we drive to Yerevan, the beautiful capital of Armenia. Hotel check-in.

Dinner in the best traditional Armenian restaurant.

Tour duration: 9/10 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

 

Day 8: Yerevan city tour – Noy Brandy-Wine Factory – Yerevan

Today you explore the secrets and hidden gems of Yerevan, the pink “pearl” of Armenia, a beautiful European city mostly built with different shades of local pink stone called "tuf" quarried in Armenia. Founded in 782 B.C. Yerevan is reputedly one of the oldest cities in the world to have been continuously inhabited.

We start the exploration with the "Victory Park" and "Mother Armenia" monument offering a "bird's-eye" view of the city with the fantastic view of the majestic snow-capped Mount Ararat (5165m) dominating the skyline. Continue to the colossal monument of Cascade and Cafesjian Center for the Arts which includes a world-class sculpture garden and indoor modern art museum. Exploring the Republic Square, Abovyan Street, one of the oldest streets in Yerevan which used to be a part of the Great Silk Road, we walk down the Northern Avenue and arrive at the Freedom Square, the home of the Opera and Ballet Theatre (architect A. Tamanian). The design and layout of the building was awarded with Grand Prix in 1936 World Exhibition in Paris.

Tour of  "Goom" bazaar of Yerevan, a real museum of food with pyramids of fresh and dried fruits stuffed with different kinds of nuts, honey, cinnamon and other spices, colorful strings of "sweet sujukh", orange beads of dried peaches(“alani”) stuffed with walnuts, piles of "lavash" traditional Armenian bread, many kinds of cheeses some of them aged in clay pots, pickles, beans and other organic products offered by local farmers.

Lunch in a traditional Armenian restaurant where we sample a big variety of the dishes of the Armenian cuisine.

Thereafter we visit "Noy" Wine-Vodka-Brandy factory. Built in 1877 and made famous by the entrepreneur Nikolay Shustov prior to the Russian October Revolution, the factory not only produces premium cognac, but also has an unrivaled wine cellar, complete with wines that are ca. 100years old. Our degustation will include their best cognac and one kind of the oldest wines from 1944.

Dinner in a local restaurant.

Tour duration: 7 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

 

Day 9: Mount Ararat & Khor Virap Monastery – Areni 1 cave – Noravank Monastery - visit 2 Wineries – Yerevan

Today is a long but fascinating day! It is dedicated to exploration of Southern Armenia combining the magic of Armenia's finest medieval architecture with stunning landscapes.  Our first stop is at Khor Virap Monastery, one of the most popular destinations in Armenia for a number of reasons, primarily because it is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301. Its location, near the closest point to biblical Mount Ararat within Armenian borders, offers a spectacular view of the mountain, the national symbol of Armenia.

Our next stop is the Monastery of Noravank, an architectural gemstone nestled among brick-red cliffs, just above a deep gorge. It’s only here where you can see a bas-relief with the representation of Father God with almond-shaped eyes which look far ahead.

Lunch in a local restaurant with stunning views, where you will taste the cuisine of Vayots Dzor region - local cheese and yogurt, salads prepared with organic and fresh herbs and vegetables growing in Armenia, and chicken barbecue from “tonir” oven is our main dish today followed by a local pastry “gata” as a dessert with tea/coffee.

Visit Areni, the village of winemakers. We will tour of the world-class archaeological site, the cave complex Areni-1 to see the oldest winery in the world (6100 years old)!

Later we visit one of the best wineries in the region and drive back to Yerevan.

Tour duration: 9-10 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

 

Day 10: Echmiadzin – Zvartnots – Yerevan

This morning we embark on our journey to the lands of ancient treasures of Christian history…Vatican City of Armenia, Holy Echmiadzin with its world’s earliest Christian churches included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral  originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303A.D., when Armenia became the first officially Christian state in the world. Continue to St. Hripsime Church built in 7th century, a masterpiece of early medieval Armenian architecture.

Also visit the Ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral, a majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Gregory. The remnants of Zvartnots, even in ruins, are a majestic sight...

We will have a cooking class with an absolutely charming host in a small village during which we will make “dolma”, a hot dish prepared with grape leaves stuffed with meat, rice, herbs and spices...).

Later we drive to Aragatsotn region to visit one of the wineries and have wine tasting, Drive back to Yerevan

Dinner in Yerevan in a trendy restaurant.

Tour duration: 8/9 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

Day 11: Garni – Geghard – “Symphony of Stones” – “Ararat” Brandy Factory

We drive to Garni Fortress, the royal summer residence of the Armenian kings and visit Garni Temple of the Sun, the only standing Hellenistic temple in the Caucasus and the former USSR. It resembles Parthenon in Greece but its dimensions are smaller as it was built only for the Armenian royal family to worship the Sun God.

We continue to Geghard Monastery (UNESCO), the most beautiful rock-cut medieval monastery in the world with its fascinating natural setting and decorative art carved inside the solid rock.  It is the only place in Armenia where you can see a large number of the Armenian exquisite lace-type cross-stones carved on the rocks. 

Lunch in a local villager’s house accompanied with a master class of traditional Armenian bread “lavash” being baked in tonir (underground oven). The preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia has been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage on Humanity.

After a hearty lunch we will explore the most surreal site in Armenia, the stunning Garni Gorge where you can marvel at basalt rock formations - columns looking like honeycombs or pencils. The site stretches for a kilometer along the river...

Drive back to Yerevan to visit “Ararat” Brandy Factory founded in 1887, a national heritage, the visiting-card of Armenia, producing one of the most prestigious and rare brandies in the world. 

Dinner in a local restaurant.

Tour duration: 7 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

 

Day 12: Lake Sevan – Old Dilijan town – Haghartsin Monastery – Yerevan

We visit Lake Sevan, the world’s second largest high-altitude lake at 1900m above sea level. It’s a huge mountain lake which takes up 5% of Armenia's surface area. Continue to Dilijan spa town in Dilijan National Park, a protected area renowned for its serene lakes, picturesque hill trails and peaceful villages. Words alone can’t describe the natural beauty of Dilijan. Many poets used to say, "If there are woods, mountains, streams and mineral waters in paradise, it must be like Dilijan”. Due to its forested mountains and mild climate, Dilijan is named "Armenia's Little Switzerland". Take a stroll in Old Dilijan Complex on historic Sharambeyan street. Then we continue our journey to Haghartsin fairy-tale monastery tucked away in a hidden remote forest glade.

Lunch in a unique place where you sample local dishes prepared with old recipes. Back to Yerevan. Rest.

Optional: free time to shop at Vernissage, the biggest arts & crafts open-air market in the Caucasus.

Tour duration: 6 hours

Overnight in Yerevan (B/L/D)

 

Day 13: Departure

 Transfer to Zvartnots International Airport. Departure.

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