GEORGIAN WINE HAS HIGH HOPES ON FREE TRADE DEAL WITH S. KOREA
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Max Kukurudziak/Unsplash
Georgia is actively promoting its wines in South Korea and is hoping that a free trade deal with the North Asian country will help crack the wine market which is named the second most attractive in the world.
The Georgian Embassy in Seoul participated at the Seoul International Wines & Spirits Expo 2022 held last week to promote its unique Qvevri wines and other spirits, over 60 representatives from 16 Georgian wine companies attended to promote their products.
The Embassy also held a Georgian wine evening event at Lotte Department Store's main branch in downtown Seoul last Tuesday. Adviser to the Georgian Wine Agency, Giorgi Tevzadze, visited Korea and gave a brief lecture on the history and characteristics of Georgian wine to Korean wine lovers.
Outgoing Georgian Ambassador to Korea, Otar Berdzenishvili, believed that Georgian wine has a great potential in the South Korean market.
"Our strongest side is the amber wine, which is gaining importance and popularity around the world. This is an example of the Georgian winemaking tradition, which is designated as UNESCO heritage. Korean consumers will enjoy the organic wine," Berdzenishvili told The Korea Times.
He hoped that the South Korea-Georgia free trade agreement (FTA), which is under negotiation, will help bring more Georgian wines to South Korea.
"We will be one of the first countries from our region to sign an FTA (with Korea) very soon. After the FTA, Georgian wine and other products will be pouring into the Korean market and Korean consumers will be able to have not only access to Georgian wine, but access to the diversification of products," he said.
Dubbed the "cradle of wine", Georgia is believed to be the birthplace of winemaking with its Qvevri method, fermenting and ageing wines in earth wares, dating back some 8,000 years.
The Georgian National Wine Agency reported 13.8 percent growth in wine export volume in 2021, with more than 100 million bottles distributed abroad by over 420 companies. Export revenue topped USD 239 million, representing an increase of 5.6 percent over 2020.
But the data shows that Georgian wine exports are still stubbornly dependent on the Russian market. Among the top five nations that consume Georgian wines, Russia accounts for more than double the volume of the next four (Ukraine, Poland, China and Belarus) combined.
Georgia’s National Wine Agency has been working very hard to diversify its reliance on the Russian market.
The country does not want to see a repeat of the damages caused by a ban on Georgian wines by Russia in 2006, supposedly to punish then-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s efforts to integrate Georgia into Western security and economic structures.
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