Some of you have heard about our home country of Georgia, and perhaps you can find it on a map (hint: we share a border with our neighbors to the south in Turkey).
We’d like to share a little more about the bounty and beauty of our native land.
A former Soviet republic, Georgia was dominated by foreign powers for a long time. That has given Georgian people a strong loyalty to family, friends and others in their community.
We are passionate people and have deep pride in our culture, customs and local traditions.
We have our own language and alphabet.
We kiss twice on the cheek to say hello.
If you see two people talking loudly and gesturing wildly, they’re probably not fighting — they’re just old friends having a lively conversation.
Georgia is known as the cradle of winemaking, and UNESCO includes the traditional Georgian method using a clay jar called a Qvevri on its list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity contributions.
We enjoy throwing a lavish Georgian feast, known as a supra, with a dozen or more dishes that may include khinkali dumplings and grilled meats we call mtswadi. No feast is complete without lots of ghvino, which is Georgian wine — there are more than 500 varieties to please any palate.
One of Georgia’s most historic sites is the cave monastery and fortress at Vardzia, which dates to the 12th century and was excavated into the side of Erusheti Mountain on the bank of the Kura River near the Turkish border.
The Vardzia caves cover more than 500 meters cliffside and rise up to 19 levels in some places. It has an irrigation system, connecting tunnels and an ornate Christian church called the Church of the Dormition, where royal founders Giorgi III and Tamar once worshipped.
Perhaps best known are the stunning Caucasus Mountains, which mark the border between Georgia and Russia. This is where countless rose plants grow wild in the forests, nurtured by sunshine and temperate breezes from the Black Sea.
In the fall, local refugees harvest the rosehip berries from those plants (rosacanina) to make NADI. The jobs help them support their families and rebuild lives after being displaced by regional conflicts.
We hope someday you have a chance to travel to Georgia and see its beauty with your own eyes. We’ll share a bottle of NADI rosehip drink, and enjoy the taste of tradition.
–Nina & Gaga