dimanche 14 octobre 2018

Kakhetia (1): The wild pomegranate forests of Sighnaghi/Tsnori

Small trip today with Mariné and Vano in the Sighnaghi area (Georgia). There are old pomegranate bushes in pretty much every garden in the old town. Several people mention the cultivar "Gandjauri" and some confirm the link with the city of Ganja in Azerbaijan. It might be part of the same group of cultivars as the one we came across in Armenia a few years ago.

The morning is misty. As we go down the valley, just before entering Tsnori, we discover a recently planted olive grove and, more interestingly, a whole forest of wild pomegranates covering the slope of the mountain. They used to be mixed with other tree species such as oak trees and probably hackberry trees. There are hardly any high trees left now. The autumn colours are simply stunning, with the yellow of pomegranate bushes and the touches of red/purple of the Cornus bushes.

We take the car again and a little bit further, between Tibaani and Dzveli Anaga, we enter a vineyard. We start chatting with the owner. His father has planted a few fruit trees around the house. Two pomegranate cultivars, one of which being "Gandjauri" again. There is also a nice jujube tree, not so frequent in the area, with cherry flavoured fruits. Delicious. We are being directed to his friend Guivi, who grows pomegranate bushes in Dzveli Anaga. So, here we go...

Kakhetia (2): Pomegranate orchard in Dzveli Anaga

Back to the road. A few hundred meters further, we meet Guivi Basilashvili. He brings us to an orchard of 30 hectares, north of the main road in the valley. It has been planted a few years ago with hundreds of pomegranate bushes. There are apparently 8 or 9 varieties, several of which being referred to as “Gandjauri”. The other ones are unnamed. Many of them have hard seeds and several ones have a typical raspberry flavour.

There is also a white one that is pretty but a little bit tasteless. Neither sweet nor acid. Also, there are no dark pomegranates in this orchard. We have a long chat with Guivi about pomegranate transformation, including seed oil. The valley is just magnificent and our host extremely friendly.