Favorite work of Abkhazian farmers
Abkhazia is one of the recognized centers of winegrowing culture. Favorable geographic and climatic conditions contributed to the spreading of wild sorts of grape in the territory of Abkhazia. The Main Caucasian mountain ridge protects Abkhazia from the northern air masses in winter and from hot withering winds from Central Asia in summer, which is creating a mild subtropical climate.
Besides, the sun warms the blankets of the Black Sea in spring and summer, and in autumn and winter the sea water emits the heat energy, warming the surrounding to the coast area.
The beginning of grapes cultivation on the Abkhaz land belongs to the Bronze Age, as evidenced the bronze statuette of a man with a horn obtained in the central Abkhazia. Perhaps it is connected with the tradition of Abkhazians to drink wine from the horn.
By the XIX century, viticulture reached its peak, taking an important place among the occupations of Abkhaz farmers. The officer of Russian army F.F.Tornau in his "Memoirs of the Caucasian officer" in 1864 noted the “solid grapes planting”. Abandoned lands, which the colonists inherited after Muhajirism, were quite often covered with vineyards.
In the middle of the XIX century, the vineyards suffered considerable damage to fungal diseases. Nevertheless, were saved dozens of sorts of Abkhazian grapes: black, pink and white. Each sort had its functionality. Some sorts were exclusively the table sorts, others - the wine sorts, others were used for color, flavor, strength and taste of wines.
Growing of grapes
Hilly slopes in the south are the best to lay the vineyards. Particular attention is drawn to the relief and flora. Before you lay the vineyard in Abkhazia, you must plant the young planting stocks – alder-trees, mulberry-trees and the wild persimmons. A year later, they cut down just for growing from a browse a young tree with a smooth trunk and strong branches. On the second or third year, when the tree becomes sufficiently strengthened and capable of being as a natural prop, you can plant the vine.
As the grapes needed a deep preplant tillage, it plant out by vegetative means - cuttings, layers, and vaccinations. Wine -growers practice the "rejuvenation" of the vine too. Old vines are cut down utterly and the sprouting shoots are setting aside and burying .While the young vine roots, it is separated from the old one and the last vine destroyed. Young vines yield a harvest in three years. Looking in future after the long-boled grapes, the farmers clear the supporting trees from burrs and cut overgrown branches. The forming of arbor using the long-boled vine is very popular In Abkhazia, and it gives a good planting of greenery and a big crop of the high - quality grapes.
At present time in Abkhazia among the long-boled grape varieties the prevailing value has the sort "Isabella", which appeared here in the latter half of the XIX century. In the middle of XX century in many agricultural regions of Abkhazia is widely cultivated white grapes “Tsolikauri”.
The most intensive time of work for the wine-growers is the harvest. As the main Abkhaz grapes ripen late, the vintage was in the late of autumn. From this it fallows the name of November in Abkhaz language - zhtaaramza – the month of vintage.
The most commonly used today sort of black grapes ripen earlier and are usually collected during October. For the grapes sweetness, it must be gathered after several sunny days. Collector let down the long rope a cone-shaped sennit with the gathered grapes, which is poured into special baskets. Vintage delivered in special construction, where it is kept the whole of wine-making inventory: oaken fudders, pitchers, and jugs for the wine’s transportation, funnels and scoops.
The grape is pressed into hollowed basswood. Tun – the huge glass-shaped bucket of oak staves, hoops tightened is very popular in Abkhazia. In the past, the grapes crushed by foot, but now almost every household has a mechanical tool.
In making of black grapes wine it is important to stir the fiber on the second day, and on the third day the wine is scooped and bottled. White grapes must be in press for a while longer to give a taste more tartness and amber color. Wine stored in barrels or jugs. However, some winemakers put in a jar a cherry bark or a crab cherry bark, which have tanning agents. To avoid the souring of wine winemakers add to it a warmed up good wine at the rate of one to ten. In the old days Abkhazians were made of grapes not only the wine, but a number of soft drinks too.
In the past, after all operations for the wine-making Abkhazians threw a refuse, because they did not know about distillation. They began to use it since the second half of the XIX century, after communication with Russian immigrants. Later on, the raw material for distillation were pears, apples, figs, plum and other fruits. However, the wine is in a high esteem in Abkhazia, vodka (or home chacha) is a secondary alcoholic beverage.
Home-made wines are not inferior to industrial. Even in the XIX century, Abkhaz peasant’s wines were very popular, successfully competing with the best Crimean, Moldovan and French wines. The Abkhaz wines of commercial production - "Bouquet of Abkhazia", "Apsny", "Lykhny", "Psou", "Anakopiya" and "Achandara" were widely known throughout the Soviet Union and abroad in the Soviet time.
The Abkhazian wines nowadays
In the 1990\'s the winemaking tradition of Abkhazia began to revive. The high end winery was built in Abkhazia, and the wine-making technology was improved which is response to the world standards. Assortment of vintage Abkhaz wines enriched by new varieties: \'Amra, "Radeda", "Dioskuria", "Pitsunda", "Eshera", "Apostolic Afon." And nowadays Abkhaz wines receive the gold and silver medals at the international exhibitions and competitions.