After finishing their studies at Hochschule Geisenheim University, these two Georgians want to start their own wine business in their home country
Thousands of kilometres away from their home, two young men from Georgia are following their passion for wine by studying at Hochschule Geisenheim University, which, they believe to be one of the best schools for International Wine Business and Viticulture & Enology. For the last three years these students have been learning about wine in Geisenheim, in order to bring their newly-acquired skills to the wine industry at home, in Georgia.
“It is good to have a solid job – but it’s even better, if you find a job that lets you do what you are passionate about”, says Grigol Bekoshvili who is a 23 year old student of International Wine Business (Internationale Weinwirtschaft) at HGU, which he heard of from a German friend and enrolled straight away. “I was sure instantly that this would be perfect for me”, he states.
Bekoshvili learned German in school and had his first sip of wine with German friends. Since beginning his degree, he has visited numerous wine regions in lots of different countries and tasted a lot of wines from all over the world – his favourite wine, though, remains the German Spätburgunder. He met his future business partner, Nikoloz Batiashivili (who is studying Viticulture & Enology at HGU), not over a glass of wine, but over a beer at a party, and had no problem convincing the latter of his business idea.
Good quality and a long term marketing strategy
Batiashvili was chosen for an exchange program after he got his Bachelor Degree as an agricultural engineer at the Georgian University for Agricultural Science in Tiflis. After a six-month apprenticeship in Weihenstephan, he added a year of work experience with an organic winemaker in the Nahe which not only helped him with his knowledge of wine, but also his German skills – perfect requirements to study at Hochschule Geisenheim University.
“Due to our different degree courses, we complement each other very well for our business”, the two young men say. Their goal is to produce extraordinary and good quality Qvevri wines which are traditionally made in a clay vessel called Qvevri.
The boys chose Qvevri wines because, unlike natural wines, they offer plenty of scope for experimentation; “Qvevri wines give you an infinite field of activity”, explains Bekoshvili. The quality of the wine is Batiashvili’s area, whereas Bekoshvili will be in charge of marketing strategies and getting their products out into the world of wine.
Commercialisation in the whole of Europe
The two friends are sure that they want to finish their studies before they step into their business: “We don’t want to rush anything. We made a five-year plan to reach our goal and everything is exactly planned and will be strategically managed.” Even the financial part has been dealt with: they want to get started using self-finance, while also applying for support from lots of agricultural programs. Networking within the inner circles of the industry is just as important to them: soon they will invite friends and guests from Germany and Austria who are interested in the concept of Qvevri wines to visit them in Georgia. In addition, they are keeping in contact with German winemakers.
Batiashvili knows that their product will only last in the wine industry with good quality, a special brand name, a corporate identity and intelligent packaging. They are not looking to sell their wine in Russia –which is the leading export country for Georgian wines, since they are sure that Russia is not ready for dry wine with a high percentage of tannins.
The first step starts with a two-hectare vineyard
In the summer semester of 2016 the two men did a semster at the agricultural university in Tiflis, where they learned about the characteristics of Georgian viticulture and visited lots of different vineyards: they are building up their network.
Before the Georgian soon-to-be business partners can start producing and selling their own wine, they still have to complete a three-month work experience and get their bachelor degrees. Batiashvili will be doing his work experience in Austria, whereas Bekoshvili will be with an organic winemaker near Freiburg. When both of them have their German degrees, they will return to their home country to do what they are passionate about: make wine.