CASRELI – Kakheti, Georgia

The Casreli team

Casreli is a small-scale wine producer – Marani. It is located in the main wine-making region of Georgia – Kakheti, on the right bank of the Alazani River. The company was founded in December 2014 by five colleagues, medical doctors. This was a way for them to express and realize their passion towards wine and winemaking as well as their appreciation of Georgian traditions. The philosophy behind the joint venture is:

Casreli vineyards
  • Revitalization of ancient and forgotten Georgian endemic grape varieties
  • Territorial experiments – producing in Kakheti selected types of grapes from other regions
  • Classical and well-established Kakhetian sorts
  • Produce wine exclusively from our vineyards
  • Using biodiversity and only natural technologies in viticulture and oenology
  • Very special attention to the hygiene of Marani and wines
  • Market-based pricing and fair treatment of the customers.

The Marani is located in the village of Vachnadziani, where 4 official appellations (micro-zones) intersect: Mukuzani, Vazisubani, Gurjaani and Kakheti. Casreli’s vineyards are placed on 8 hectares of specifically selected terroirs:

1. Shaloant Akhoebi – rocky/silty/sandy soil, 400 meters ASL, hot dry climate, yet, located in-between two mountain chains – great Caucasus and Tsiv-Gombory.

2. Gujiauri – silty/clay soil with a thick layer of limestone 1.5-2 meters below the surface, 850 meters ASL, on the East-West slope of Tsiv-Gombori mountain.

Currently 11 varieties of grapes are under cultivation: Kisi, Kakhuri Mtsvivani, Tetri Chitistvala, Kakhuri Mtsvane, Khikhvi, Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Muskati, Chinuri, Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli. With plans to expand up to 20 hectares and add additional sorts. Vineyards are dry farmed, no chemical fertilizers are used and only in very rare circumstances are synthetic substances sprayed. Cover crop is allowed to grow with seasonal mowing/mulching for control. In order to support biodiversity, a pomegranate garden was planted in the vineyard as well as plants that attract honey bees. Grape harvest volume grows annually as the vines become better established.

The natural amber wine is made using traditional Georgian technology: after grape crushing, juice goes into the Qvevri together with the skins, seeds and stems and could remains there 3-6 months after fermentation. Wine fermentation happens naturally, no yeasts are added. After fermentation the Qvevri are sealed from 2 to 6 months. During this time the wine clarifies naturally through gravity and skin contact. Fining of the first fraction (70-80% of total volume) is so complete that no filtration is necessary. During winter wine is moved to stainless tanks where wine stays until June-July and then it is bottled. Sulfites are added for stabilization, but their concentration remains below 40 mg/L.

Two out of five founders – Mikheil (Misha) Dolidze and Vazha Kasrelishvili are personally involved in executive part. They serve as Casreli’s winemakers and manage vineyards together with the local employees. This takes lots of reading, studying, watching educational videos, attending short-term courses, etc…

Casreli qvevris in the kiln
Casreli under construction
clay and steel