If you travel to the villages of high-mountainous Adjara at least once, or choose the well-known Goderdzi Pass as your destination, you should definitely pay a visit to wine house "Château Iveri" on the way, enjoy the Beridze family's fine vineyards, taste one of the most ecologically clean wines and share the culture of one of the most beautiful parts of Georgia.
Although COVID-19 has caused significant harm to the tourism sphere, the representatives of this field are not going to back down. Instead, they try to put their best efforts into their work and prepare for the summer season. "Château Iveri" is no exception. The family made a practical decision because there were no high-class hotels in Keda municipality, to build one of up to 10 rooms and equipped with a modern interiors-exterior and parking and relaxation areas. In short, they aimed to build something truly special.
To develop the new directions, the Beridze family business has been involved in the “Keda Leader” project, which has been underway since 2017 and aims to assess and use the local resources and potential of Keda Municipality, which in itself will directly affect rural development.
After receiving a grant, the Beridze family is working hard on the construction of the hotel, which is set to be completed in May and able to receive guests. As a result of a second grant development competition announced by the Keda Local Development Group, 47 projects were funded to diversify agriculture, tourism and economic activities.
We spoke to Romil Beridze, who, in addition to working for an audit company, is actively involved in the family business in the village of Varjanis, Keda Municipality.
He says his family had been planning to start a business for many years. In 2017-2019, they were able to export wine to the US, still serving local and foreign tourists who have the opportunity to visit their restaurant and taste a variety of natural and unique wines with a specific taste, made only in the Adjara region. Satisfied with the abundant nature and services, these visitors often wanted to spend more time their. This is what became the driving force behind the new idea.
Today, with the support of “Keda Leader”, the process of implementing the idea has already begun:
"Our business idea envisages setting up a hotel complex in the village of Varjanisi, Keda Municipality, Adjara; to renovate and upgrade a hotel to high-standards which will be connected to viticulture and family wineries. The hotel will be designed for medium and high income international and local visitors. Within the framework of the project, visitors will be offered services based on national traditions, so-called Tourist Packages will be created with will include: accommodation, meals, introduction to local cuisine, wine tasting (masterclass), folk art and folk handicrafts. There will be up to 10 rooms in the hotel,” Beridze tells us.
The Beridze family is maximally involved in the development of tourism in Adjara. As the demand for wine tourism increases in both the Georgian and international markets, this is leading to an increase in the number of visitors to wine houses or family wine cellars. “Château Iveri” started its activities taking into account the family traditions and many years of experience. The family was able to mobilize resources and create one of the most unique spaces associated with happy memories for many people.
The main mission of the family was clear from the beginning - they wanted to restore the local vine varieties in Adjara and popularize winemaking traditions. "Château Iveri" combined past experience and modern technologies, and with the development of bio-viticulture, brought high quality grapes, thanks to which the Beridze family offers customers ecologically pure wine with an unforgettable aroma. Everyone will find it difficult to refuse, especially when you have unobstructed mountains and golden vineyards as a view.
Beridze points out that while the epidemic has temporarily put business on hold, they are still working to present a lot of innovations during the season:
"I think today's challenge for Georgia and the whole world is to fight this virus so that businesses can be maintained as much as possible. Admittedly, it’s a hard challenge, but we have to deal with it. Hopefully by the end of 2020, the business will be able to slowly wake up. It is likely that domestic tourism will also increase,” he said.
Victory in the EU-funded program has changed not only “Château Iveri's” but the entire municipality's daily life - different sectors have developed, and great efforts are being made to promote tourism. With the support of the “Keda Leader” project, many local businesses in the region have tranferred their thoughts and ideas into a reality, and the development of small businesses has directly led to cultural and economic shifts. In addition to financial support, the LAG of Keda is actively implementing training sessions so that interested people can deepen their knowledge in specific areas.
According to “Château Iveri”, after the project is funded, the LAG of Keda is actively involved in its implementation and contributes to the purposeful and effective implementation of the planned activities. It is a bilateral cooperation where the parties share common visions and goals, and work together in a united spirit to achieve timely and effective results.
The project is implemented within the framework of the European Neighborhood Program for Agricultural and Rural Development (ENPARD II) and is implemented by CENN in partnership with such organizations as the Georgian Center for Strategic Studies and Development, the Institute for Democracy and the Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning.
“Keda Leader's” task is to diversify local economic activities, attract investment and promote competitive agricultural and environmental practices through participatory, strategic planning for rural development.
By Ana Bibileishvili