Earliest reports suggest that 4,600ha have been affected – of the region’s 33,500 – with 15 villages losing 80-100-% of their crop which was around 10-14 days away from being harvested. The hailstorms were the size of golf balls and broke many car windscreens and building windows.
Vladimer Kublashvili, general manager of Winery Khareba told Meininger’s that he feared that he would not be able to make any wine from his company’s best Saperavi vineyards in Kakheti, but recognised Khareba’s luck in also making wine in the western Imereti region which was unaffected by the storms. “I’m really concerned about some of our smaller neighbours in Kakheti” he said.
Insurance against hail damage is not available in Georgia in August and September and producers may rely on government aid for survival.
Kublashvili, who was judging at Meininger’s Mundus Vini competition when he learned of the storms, started the harvest, nearly two weeks early, in the knowledge that any grapes picked will only be good for distillation.