According to a Georgian legend, God took a supper break while he was creating the world.
Alaverdi Monastery, Georgia has been producing wine since 1011. Today's modern qvevri wine making at Alaverdi Monastery
Georgia was one of the world’s first Christian countries, and dates such as 337 A.D. and 319 A.D. have been put forward for the country’s adoption of Christianity .
Georgia’s conversion to Christianity is closely linked to St. Nino. According to one tradition, St. Nino was from Kolastra, Cappadocia (in today’s Turkey) and she was a relative of St. George (the patron saint of Georgia).
She was said to have come to Georgia from Constantinople. Other sources claim that she came from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul. According to legend, St. Nino saw the Virgin Mary in a dream and she told Nino that she should enter Georgia with a cross made of the wood of vine stocks. When Nino woke up from her dream she found herself holding two pieces of wood from vine stocks and she tied them together with her own hair. With this cross made of wine she fled Roman persecution in Cappadocia and made her way into Georgia and started to teach Christianity.
Winemaker explaining the use of qvevris at Alaverdi Monastery
The legend also tells that she performed miraculous healing and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king, Mirian III, of Iberia. Mirian III declared Christianity an official religion in c. 327 A.D. and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death in 338 or 340 A.D.
St. Nino’s tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti – which is also the main wine region– in eastern Georgia. She has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a Grapevine cross, is a unique cross in the Christian world. Since, according to the legend, it was the Virgin Mary, who told St. Nino to go to Georgia and teach Christianity, the Grapevine cross became a symbol for and of Georgian Christianity.
Wine also plays a very important role in the daily lives of the Georgians (not only in a religious worship) that can be classified as sacred. One example of this is when for example a family is moving from a homestead and there is land connected to it. The family or a member of the family makes sure that a jar of wine is left in the soil and family members comes back to attend it.
As mentioned earlier in the text, Georgia as a nation has been invaded several times and other times been under occupation; for example under the Soviet era. The politics of the statesmen of the Soviet Union tried to forbid wine in Georgia during a period. This did not turn out very well since the Georgians always found a way to drink wine, both on a day to day basis and at festivas.
One way was for example to serve the wine from teapots etc. Even today the Russian government are using wine export as a mean of control since there is an embargo against Georgia to export wines to Russia and the Kremlin, even if there has been some discussion lately about letting Georgia export wine once again to Russia.