From Sheki, Azerbaijan we did a 3-hour car trip over the border into Georgia and on to the lovely hilltop town of Signhaghi. Much more welcoming to tourists than Sheki, this town’s cobbled streets were bustling with life. We took an immediate liking to Georgia after the mild deprivations of Sheki.A tiny town in itself, Sighnaghi serves as something of a tourist gateway to Georgia’s wine country. Georgia has long had a reputation for its winemaking. When I studied in the Soviet Union 32 years ago, whenever you saw wines they were from Georgia (though most people drank vodka). So we were looking forward to trying out the local brews.
The first couple tries were not a success at all. We’d have a glass of white with lunch or a carafe of red with dinner, and they were close to disasters. Then we climbed up the pricing scale a little and started to fare better. Once you get into the $8-10 a bottle range (in a restaurant) the wines started to do alright. Lesson: Even in Georgia, if the wine is running around $1 a glass, you might be making a mistake.
The highlight of our visit here was a day trip to see my old friend from Iowa, Sarah Dietch. We worked together for Senator Harkin years back, and Sarah is now doing a stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Telavi, just an hour from Sighnaghi. It was great fun to come to Telavi to have a nice lunch and catch up on Georgia, politics, the Peace Corps, and various Harkinista friends.