Ateni was a medieval city in Georgia, in the valley of the Tana River. It was built in the XI century by the king Bagrat IV. In the XII-XVII centuries Ateni was still considered an important place in the country but in the XVIII Century it began decreasing its importance and gradually the town became a village.
The district was already known in the middle ages for its naturally sparkling wine. Generally, the climate is humid subtropical, which influence the resulting wine. Good grapes make good wine, and good grapes come from their biologically matched climates. Still today vineyards continue to be tended in the gorge and wine continues to be made. For couple of years ago a new winery Chateau Ateni was opened by the Vanishvili family. The vineyard is cultivated on 1 ha and is about 500m from the cellar.
The Vanishvili winery has four qvevri in the cellar, though today they produce four kinds of European wines: Atenuri, Tavkveri, Khidistauri and Goruli Mtsvane. The winery also produces Chacha, kept old in oak jar.
Chateau Ateni is interesting not only for ones who are interested in wine tourism, but culinary tourism too. Tourists can take part in distilling Chacha, making Chuchkhelas, grilling meat (Georgian barbeque) and harvesting and pressing grapes in the Satsnakheli (In Autumn). You can also have Masterclasses of baking Chakhrakina (Similar to Khachapuri, but inside is beet instead of cheese).
The cellar has a small restaurant which seats approximately 15 guests and offers Georgian traditional dishes with the finest Atenuri wine. Tamada, a leader of Georgian Supra can be Mr. Soso (Ioseb) himself (if you wish, of course), who can tell many interesting stories about the village and its sights and of course winery!
The village is close to the north-eastern flanks of the Trialeti mountain range. So tourists can have spectacular views of the Tana Ravine and Trialeti Mountain range during the year.
So, when visiting sights of Gori, in Shida Kartli, spend more two-three hours and visit Ateni Gorge. You will be amazed with spectacular views of Ateni Gorge with its sights-Ateni Sioni Church, Orbeliani Fortress, convent with its old winery and end your day at Chateau Ateni. The road is good and Ateni is a tourists destination place not only summertime, but wintertime too.
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By Tika Bujiashvili