Racha – Georgian Switzerland
It is a wine region that is not spoilt by many tourists and this is why it is so special.
Its hillsides are covered by vineyards of Aleksanrouli and Mudzhurituli grape variety, which are used to make the most famous wine, a Khvanchkhara. The winery itself is located in Ambrolauri village.
Here you can also find other grape varieties, such as Tvishi and Usakhelauri, which are used to make very expensive Georgian wines named after these grape types. Here you will see dozens of private wineries, and each of them has a wonderful wine, which maybe will become your favourite. As the vineyard areas and the production volumes are rather small, it is difficult to find these wines in the shops. As a rule, the wine makers cooperate with restaurants and small wine boutiques that purchase the whole party of the produced wine.
Here you will find many ancient temples and monasteries. You will also see ruins of thousand year old forts.
Usually, Racha people do not speak Russian, but they are very hospitable and open. Though here you won’t find many restaurants or coffee houses, small guest houses that are located in the suburbs of Ambrolauri, will be happy to offer you food and wine in abundance.
The road to Racha goes through 1400 m mountain pass, a mountain spiral road, where each turn has a pleasant surprise for you. Take for example, lake Shaori. It has its own micro climate, so it is fresh here even on the hottest summer day. One more special place is a volcanic Udziro lake, located 3000 meters above the sea level. You can see it only in summer because it freezes in November and stays this way until May.
Racha, being an area mostly unknown for tourists and not frequented by tour companies, is a region for experienced travelers. If you decide to go there on your own, make sure you get assistance from the locals or people who have already been there.